Only a fifth of voters back Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for a second independence referendum within two years, a new poll has found.
The Survation poll, published the day after the first minister announced her plan for another vote before the 2021 Holyrood election, also put support for leaving the UK at below 40%.
The results will come as a blow to the SNP as activists head to Edinburgh for the party’s spring conference tomorrow.
Commissioned by the pro-UK group Scotland in Union, the pollsters asked a sample of 1,012 Scottish adults if they would vote to Remain in the UK or Leave.
It found 61% wanted to stay against 39% who wanted to leave. When asked if there should be an independence referendum within two years, just 21% agreed.
The poll also found that the public believed the NHS, cost of living, the economy and education were more important than independence.
Last night the Scottish Conservatives used the findings to urge Ms Sturgeon to abandon her indyref2 plans.
Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “No matter what the SNP says, support for independence simply hasn’t risen since the 2014 vote.
“That’s all the evidence Nicola Sturgeon should need to take this threat off the table.
“But instead she ploughs on, ensuring Scotland is subjected to yet more division and uncertainty.
“A responsible Scottish Government should be seeking to bring the country together, not drive another wedge through it.”
Around one third (34%) thought there should never be another Scottish independence referendum. It found 17% thought there should be a second poll at some stage but not for at least another 10 years.
Nine per cent believed there should be a referendum between the next five and 10-years and 10% within the next two to five years.
Participants were asked to prioritise the top three issues they thought were most important. The NHS came out top with 71%, the cost of living followed with 38%, then the economy (37%) and education (35%). Independence and the constitution only received 9%.
Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “The people of Scotland want Nicola Sturgeon to get back to her day job and focus on fixing our hospitals, schools and the economy, and to drop her obsession with breaking up the UK.”
The poll was published as the SNP heads to this weekend’s party conference in Edinburgh where Ms Sturgeon’s independence proposal will be the major talking point.
On Wednesday, the first minister announced that she will introduce referendum legislation at Holyrood to protect Scotland against Brexit. But she admitted she has not yet sought permission to hold a vote from Westminster.
At First Minister’s Questions, there were signs of a split in the Yes movement when Ms Sturgeon was tackled by Patrick Harvie of the Greens on her independence economic blueprint.
Mr Harvie said the SNP’s Growth Commission offered “the failed economics of the UK” and called for a bolder approach to independence.
Ms Sturgeon disagreed and said the Commission, which was chaired by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, set out how Scotland could emulate small nations that were “richer and fairer” than Scotland.
Reacting to the results of the poll, SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said it showed around two thirds backed another referendum at some stage and put the SNP 19 points ahead of the Tories.
Mr Brown said: “This poll has backfired in spectacular style for Scotland in Union – who are clearly running scared of giving people in Scotland the choice over their future.
“The SNP meets for our Spring Conference with the wind in our sails, while the unionist parties continue to languish in the political doldrums.”