SUPPORT for independence is at “something of a tipping point” and will accelerate in the coming months, Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.

The First Minister confidently claimed that a second independence referendum was still possible this year and that Boris Johnson’s staunch opposition to it would not withstand a surge in pro-independence support.

Ms Sturgeon, in an interview with The Sunday Times magazine, suggested Mr Johnson was nervous about rising support for Scottish independence, hence the suggestion that he was about to “love-bomb Scotland” with a £5 million publicity blitz about the benefits of the Union.

“So, for the independence movement, the challenge is clear: keep support rising,” she declared.

READ MORE: Independent Scotland would 'overtake other countries' to swiftly join EU, says expert 

The FM pointed to recent polls, which put the independence cause with a slight majority of support; although if the don’t knows are included, then those supporting independence and those opposing it are roughly even.

But Ms Sturgeon insisted: “I get the feeling we are at something of a tipping point on this. Now that Brexit has happened, we’ll see an acceleration of that shift.”

She argued: “I don’t think Boris’s position will withstand a continued increase in support for us having the right to choose.”

The FM insisted that indyref2 was still possible this year, declaring: “A referendum can absolutely happen this year. Let’s see what happens over the next few weeks.”

She suggested it was “mad” for the PM to deny democracy in Scotland. “While I can be impatient, I know that how he is behaving will ultimately drive people towards the independence cause. Boris Johnson is one of the biggest recruiting sergeants for independence there is at the moment.”

READ MORE: Independence referendum could 'absolutely' happen this year, says Nicola Sturgeon

More generally, the SNP leader insisted her Conservative counterpart would “come unstuck” in Downing St, explaining: “He’s got fewer hiding places now the buck stops with him…He’s in a position where people have a right to expect him to deliver. I suspect he will find it harder than he likes to pretend.”

When it was put to her in the interview that her opponents accused her of using the independence cause to distract attention from her Government’s failures on public service and suspected she secretly did not want an independent Scotland because it would mean the buck would stop with her, Ms Sturgeon treated the suggestion contemptuously.

“Anybody who says that doesn’t know anything about me or my party. You think independence for me is a way of avoiding responsibility for things? Then, go on, call my bluff; make my day,” she declared.

The FM declined to talk about the forthcoming trial month of her political mentor, Alex Salmond, saying: “Because anything I say about that generates headlines and headlines generally are not a good thing for due process of law.”

Mr Salmond is due to stand trial from March 9 on more than a dozen charges, including attempted rape and intent to rape, against 10 women. He denies all the allegations.