EDINBURGH - Support for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom has risen to its highest point in the past four years, largely driven by voters who want to remain in the European Union, according to a poll published Saturday.
As the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) meets for its two-day spring conference, the YouGov poll showed support for secession had risen to 49 percent from 45 percent in the last YouGov poll carried out for The Times in June 2018.
The SNP is preparing a new independence push after it was defeated in a 2014 referendum by concerns about the economy.
The party's proposal for an independent Scotland to continue using the pound in a currency union with Britain was perceived as a particular weakness.
On Saturday, the SNP leadership proposed that if the country voted for independence, it should use Britain's pound until a Scottish currency meeting six economic tests could be introduced. Delegates rejected that in favor of a more pressing time frame and formulation urging preparations to introduce a new currency "as soon as practicable after Independence Day," preserving the six economic tests.
Scots rejected independence, 55 percent to 45 percent, in a 2014 referendum. Then the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum, but among its four nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay, feeding political tension.
Britain is mired in political chaos and it is still unclear when or even whether it will leave the EU.
YouGov also found that 53 percent of Scots thought there should not be another referendum on independence within the next five years. Scotland's first minister, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, is pushing for one before 2021, when the current Scottish parliamentary term ends.
YouGov polled 1,029 adults in Scotland following a new guideline on independence set out by Sturgeon on Wednesday.
The poll also showed voters moving away from both the Conservatives and the Labour Party north of the English border.
The Scottish Conservatives, part of Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, are set to lose their only representative in the European Parliament in next month's election as 40 percent of those who backed them two years ago switched to Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.
"These patterns represent a clear warning to the Unionist camp that the pursuit of Brexit might yet produce a majority for independence," professor John Curtice, Britain's leading polling expert, wrote in a column for The Times.