SCOTLAND'S top pollster has warned Yes supporters that independence is "certainly not in the bag". 

Sir John Curtice said Brexit and the coronavirus crisis meant key issues have yet to be fully debated and public opinion could shift. 

Recent converts to independence will also lack a "long-term emotional commitment to the idea", he said. 

Sir John, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, made the comments during a fringe meeting at the SNP's annual conference, which is being held virtually.

A string of recent polls have put Yes ahead, with senior SNP figures arguing independence "has now become the settled will of the majority of people in Scotland". 

But Sir John said: "The portion of support for independence that has got the Yes side past 50 per cent is all relatively recent, and to that extent at least certainly will not be based on long-term emotional commitment to the idea, in the way that many of the 45% [in 2014] would have had."

He added: "Because the material circumstances have changed since 2014, a lot of the arguments on both sides of the debate that were deployed in 2014 no longer work. 

"And because we've essentially spent the last nine months thinking about coronavirus and before that we spent two years worrying about Brexit, we've not really, at least until very recently, had much of a debate about what independence would or would not mean."

He continued: "I think therefore there needs to be an awareness that if and when the issue does become much more prominent, which in part it's bound to between now and next May, that we can't assume that when people begin to be exposed to considerations and arguments that so far they've not been exposed to, that public opinion won't shift."

Sir John said more people could switch to Yes, but equally they could also move towards No. 

He said: "Therefore certainly, anybody who is on the Yes side needs to realise OK, what is now true is that you've got a better chance of winning any referendum in the immediate future than you've ever previously had. 

"But it's certainly not in the bag, people will certainly need to be persuaded."