A former Scottish Labour leader has said there will “unquestionably be a second independence referendum” if the SNP win a majority at the Scottish Parliament elections in May.
Kezia Dugdale said there has been a “considerable shift” from No to Yes in polls in the past few months.
Speaking at an event in her role as the director of the John Smith Centre for Politics and Public Service, she said: “The SNP are miles ahead in the polls, a good 20% point lead on the Conservatives, who are in second place.
“They are very likely to have a majority in a parliament which is not designed to produce majorities and a by-product of that will be that there will unquestionably be a second independence referendum.
“If you look at current independence referendum polling there has been a considerable shift from No to Yes, around five or six percentage points in the last six months, really.
“And when you dig in to who those people are, they tend to be people who voted No last time, that are under the age of 40, that consider themselves to be centre-left when it comes to social policy, but want to own their own home, value their pension, want a nice holiday and a car in their driveway.
“And all the arguments around economic security that made them vote No last time have been quashed by Brexit, because they are all predominately remain voters who feel very aggrieved by Brexit.”
Her comments came as Labour’s Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said no government or party should stand in the way of an independence referendum if that is what voters want.
“I am very clear that if a population in Scotland, or indeed in Wales, wanted to hold a referendum, it is for the people of Wales and the people of Scotland to make that decision,” he told Sky News.
“No Labour leader should argue that the component parts of the United Kingdom can be prevented from navigating a future for themselves.”
In her programme of proposed legislation announced earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a Bill setting out the proposed terms and timing for a second independence vote, as well as the question that could be asked, will be put before the Scottish Parliament in advance of the Holyrood election.
After the general election in December, in which the SNP won 48 seats, Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected a request from Ms Sturgeon to grant the powers needed to hold another independence vote, and he has repeatedly said since that he will not permit one.
A poll last month put support for independence as high as 55%, while June and July polls registered 54%.
SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “With majority support for independence growing, it is clear that Tory attempts to deny the people of Scotland a choice over our future are not only undemocratic but also completely unsustainable.
“These comments from the former Scottish Labour leader and the Labour First Minister of Wales demonstrate the reality that if the SNP win the Scottish Parliament elections next year, people in Scotland will have the opportunity to choose our future in a fresh independence referendum – instead of having Westminster impose its Tory Brexit future on Scotland against our will.”