PEOPLE in Scotland will be ready by early 2020 to vote again on whether the country should become independent, according to exclusive new research commissioned by the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC).

The finding is among the results of focus-group work, carried out by Dr Iain Black, associate professor in marketing at Heriot-Watt university, and the first major piece of research to be commissioned by the SIC, ahead of their conference in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall today.

Black will outline details of his qualitative study at today’s conference entitled Build2, but told The National last night that voters should not be ruling out a new vote over the next two or three years.

“Our research was looking at whether people are capable of thinking about [a second independence referendum] and want to see Brexit happen before they shift their views,” he said.

“We found they would be ready in about two to three years’ time from now. The key thing we found from the research is that Brexit would have to have started to bite and that it was starting to make an impact on people’s lives.

“It was telling us that people are not going to see independence as a way out of Brexit until they had seen the impact of Brexit, partly because they are so overwhelmed by things that they don’t normally think about at the moment but also because they just don’t know what is going to happen. If we take the timescale from now, that would be end of 2019 or early 2020.”

He added that the focus group work, which included speaking to no voters, was an indicative finding, and from the beginning of next year his team would be conducting a large survey to see what the population think.

Some 1800 Yes supporters are due to attend the conference, the first since Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a new plebiscite following the EU referendum in which Scotland voted by 62 per cent to remain but the UK overall voted to leave.

SIC co-convener Elaine C Smith said: “The indy movement is determined to reach out and listen to each other and to those Scots who felt they couldn’t commit to independence in the last referendum.

“We have learnt much in these past few years and know the task in hand. We believe we have the talent and ability to work towards a better country and that’s what the movement is all about. We hope people will leave the conference invigorated and determined to build a better place.”

Fellow SIC co-convener Pat Kane said: “Never was a conference on indy more appropriately titled. If we intend to build independence, rather than wait for it to be delivered, it means the fate of Scotland is entirely in our hands. “And it means we can start from where we are – with our friends, our communities, our enterprises – rather than expecting politicians to act on our behalf, or deliver us the masterplan. Independence starts with the man and woman “o’ independent mind” – always has done, always will do.

“We come together in the Usher Hall to draw strength and advice from each other – and then we go out to take our case again to our compatriots, in a friendly, open-hearted, caring manner. Be the Scotland you wish to see. And build.”

Announcing plans for a second referendum in March, Sturgeon said the timetable for the vote would be between autumn next year and March 2019 when the UK leaves the EU.

But after losing 21 SNP MPs in June’s snap General Election, she pushed back the timing for introducing a referendum bill to Holyrood.

Among the confirmed speakers at today’s conference are leading Catalan independence activist Anna Arque, former First Minister Alex Salmond, Cabinet minister Jeane Freeman, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party Maggie Chapman, and a senior researcher from Oxfam GB, Katherine Trebeck.

The Heriot-Watt researchers talked to different groups of voters about, amongst other things, what will influence their vote next time.