ALEX Salmond is confident the Yes side will win a future independence referendum if Theresa May severs Scotland’s historic European ties.

The former First Minister made the forecast as Nicola Sturgeon prepares to publish her options tomorrow to keep the UK in the single market following Brexit.

Salmond, who led the plebiscite on autonomy two years ago, said any move by the Conservative Government to cut Scotland’s links with Europe would see people previously sceptical about independence support it.

“The last time, when I was First Minister and embarked on this process and support for independence was 28 per cent, after two years we ended up at 45 per cent,” he said.

“I don’t think (First Minister) Nicola Sturgeon would have any compunction about calling an independence referendum with support in the mid-40s.”

He went on to tell the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland: “What it depends upon is the arguments, and in a situation where the United Kingdom Government was determined, despite being given every opportunity, to sever Scotland’s European links, to sever our ties – a thousand-year-old European nation – then I think that would bring many people who were previously sceptical about independence on to the Yes side.”

He denied that voter appetite for another vote on the issue had diminished since the last poll in 2014.

“I think there’s a lot of people with an open mind about Scottish independence”, he said.

“Certainly there are people who are passionately in favour, there are people who are strongly against, but there are still lots of folk in Scotland who regard Scotland’s prosperity – securing Scotland’s position as a European nation, the rights of Scottish workers, the equal treatment of our fellow Europeans, access to the single market place, as a member as key priorities – which, if they could only be maintained and claimed by independence, could be persuaded to vote in that direction, with careful argument and all the powers of persuasion that Nicola Sturgeon has over the next two years.”

Asked by interviewer Gordon Brewer: “And you think you would win?” Salmond replied: “Yes I do”.

Sturgeon’s options paper, due to be unveiled tomorrow, is expected to propose that the UK should remain in the free trade bloc, but will also set out how Scotland could remain in the single market if the rest of the UK does not.

It will also propose a “substantial transfer of new powers to Holyrood” after the UK leaves the EU, demanding that powers repatriated from Brussels on immigration, employment rights and goods’ regulations, be handed to the Scottish Parliament.

Writing in The Sunday Herald and Sunday Mail, the First Minister said the Scottish Government will become the first administration across the UK to publish “serious proposals” on how to respond to the Brexit vote, which saw 62 per cent of Scots back Remain.

She said in her opinion “the best scenario” for Scotland would be as “an independent nation and a full member of the EU”, but “in the spirit of compromise and consensus” she was ready to examine other options.

“Put bluntly, Scotland did not create this situation. We are simply looking for ways to mitigate a Brexit vote which we did not vote for,” she wrote. “If our interests cannot be protected in this process, or are indeed brushed aside by the UK Government, then the people of Scotland should have the option of considering independence.

“With our proposals this week, we will show that we are willing to make compromises in order to reach consensus.

“The question now is whether the Tory Government is willing to do likewise, to protect Scotland’s economic interests and our express desire to remain at the heart of Europe.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “Scots don’t want to go through another divisive independence referendum but Alex Salmond today repeated the SNP’s threat to press ahead regardless.”

Scottish Labour’s Europe spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “The UK is Scotland’s most important single market. The SNP’s own figures confirm that remaining part of the UK single market is more important for Scotland’s economy than even being in the EU.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has pledged to consider the Scottish Government’s strategy carefully when it is published.

Macdonald’s argument that an independent Scotland would cease to have full access to the UK market was cast into doubt earlier this month by the issue of a common travel area in the British Isles.

Leader of the house David Lidington said May wants to continue the common trade and travel arrangement the UK has with the Irish Republic, raising the question why an independent Scotland could not be a part of it.