THE majority of Scots are in support of independence, a new poll has found.

A Panelbase study published in The Times has found that support for independence outstrips those in favour of the Union, and puts the SNP “within touching distance” of a majority of votes in a General Election that could be a de facto referendum.

The poll found that 48% of those surveyed in favour and only 47% against, while 5% said they did not know.

With “don’t knows” excluded, the tallies are 51% for a Yes vote and 49% for a No vote.

It follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of her plans to hold an independence referendum on October 19, 2023, with or without the permission of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Sturgeon also instructed the Lord Advocate to immediately refer her plan to the UK Supreme Court to rule on whether the referendum would be legal or not, putting Unionists on the back foot. 

Responding to the findings, the First Minister tweeted: “Very encouraging Panelbase poll – Yes ahead, surge in support for choice in 2023, and the SNP within touching distance of majority of votes in General Election should it become de facto indyref (which we hope isn’t necessary.

“Lots to do though. Bring on the debate on why now is the time for indy.”

READ MORE: Alex Cole-Hamilton told off by Ballot Box Scotland after Scottish independence claim

The Panelbase poll asked 1,010 Scottish voters a range of questions on independence including whether they supported Nicola Sturgeon’s timeline for a vote, whether Boris Johnson would try and block the plebiscite and whether or not the Supreme Court would rule that the Scottish Government has the competency to hold indyref2.

The poll found that a vast majority of respondents thought that Johnson would try and block the vote, with 76% expressing this view.

A separate question found that 46% said they thought Johnson should agree to another referendum.

On whether people were in favour of the referendum being held in October next year, the survey found that 43% were in favour, 44% were against, 10% said they neither supported nor opposed a referendum and 3% said they did not know.

Another question found that 48% of respondents believed that the Supreme Court would find that the Scottish Government did not have the power to hold another referendum while 33% believed that the court would rule in favour of Nicola Sturgeon and 19% said they did not know or preferred not to say.

Sturgeon has said that if her plans to hold a referendum next year are blocked then she will use the next General Election as a "de facto" vote on independence. 

The Panelbase poll found that in this scenario the SNP would win up to 47% of the vote, touching distance from the 50% that Sturgeon would need to press ahead. The threshold for beginning negotiations on independence could be met when votes for other pro-indy parties are accounted for, however. 

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The Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the poll shows that momentum is behind the Yes movement.

He commented: “With support for independence growing to a narrow lead and only a minority opposed to a referendum next year, this poll underlines that it is people in Scotland who have the democratic right to determine our own future — and not Boris Johnson.”