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Blow for Nicola Sturgeon as poll shows most Scots oppose independence

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54 per cent reject the idea of another contest within the next two years as independence seen as low priority for government

Ms Sturgeon's personal poll ratings have dipped since the height of the pandemic Credit: Getty Images Europe

An increasing majority of Scots oppose Nicola Sturgeon's timetable for a second independence referendum, a poll has disclosed ahead of Friday's start of the SNP's national conference.

A Survation poll commissioned by campaign group Scotland in Union found 54 per cent are against another contest within the next two years, up two points since September.

If the question was framed in the same way as the EU referendum on the ballot paper, the survey said 59 per cent of Scots would back Remain and 41 per cent Leave, a two-point swing away from the separatists.

In another blow to Ms Sturgeon, only 12 per cent chose independence when asked to select up to three of the most important issues that the Scottish Government should prioritise.

But six out of 10 Scots said the NHS must be a priority, followed by Covid recovery (39 per cent), economy and jobs (38 per cent), and the climate emergency (24 per cent).

The idea of holding another referendum is losing support among the public Credit: Getty Images Europe

A separate poll found Ms Sturgeon's personal poll ratings have dipped markedly since the height of the pandemic, with her domestic record on health and education thought to be behind the fall.

The YouGov survey for the Times said her rating - the difference between the proportion of people who think she is performing well and badly - had fallen from +50 in August last year to +12.

However, she was the only Scottish party leader to achieve a positive rating and Boris Johnson's score was minus 62, a decline of 17 points.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said the Survation survey showed "Nicola Sturgeon's priorities are not the priorities of the people of Scotland."

Donald Cameron, the Scottish Tories' Shadow Constitution Secretary, said: "Nicola Sturgeon and her party continue to focus obsessively on independence, while the issues that Scots really care about - such as the NHS, the economy, education and social care - are neglected by the SNP government."

But Rona Mackay, an SNP MSP, said: "This poll shows a clear majority of people expressing a view want a referendum in the current Holyrood term.

 "As the UK Tory government continues to be mired in Westminster sleaze and the harsh realities of Brexit are being realised, it is no surprise the people of Scotland want to have the choice of taking a better path with independence.

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