Support for Scottish Independence has dropped for the first time in three months - most likely because of infighting within the SNP. 

A new poll has found that backing for a breakaway Scotland is below 50 per cent when don’t knows are included for the first time since December, with 47 per cent of Scots intending to vote Yes, 42 per cent voting No, and 10 per cent undecided.

However - among those who expresssed an opinion support for independence in a second referendum sits at 53 per cent, with No backed by 47 per cent of Scots.

READ MORE: How the polls have changed since 2016

And the SNP remains the most popular political party in Scotland by far - remaining on course to win a majority at the next Holyrood election in May. 

The highly-publicised battles within the SNP over the Salmond Inquiry, rights for trans people and the push for independence appear to be hutrting the party on its core issue.

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In February, 42 per cent of Scots said the SNP was united, a drop of eight points when compared with January and five points below December’s figures.

The Savanta ComRes poll, for The Scotsman newspaper, found a total of 45 per cent also said the SNP was divided, up by six points when compared with January and eight points when compared to December.

However, Scottish Labour is also seen as divided by a similar proportion of voters (37 per cent), with only 20 per cent saying the leaderless party is united.

Despite these figures, the SNP is still set for an overwhelming majority at the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party is set to be backed by 54 per cent of Scots on the constituency ballot, with 43 per cent backing the party in the regional list.

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If these figures were repeated in May it would set the SNP on course to win 71 MSPs and sit with a majority of 13.

The latest poll also shows a return to second place for the Scottish Conservatives, with their strongest performance on the constituency ballot since October last year.

A total of 23 per cent of Scots plan to back Douglas Ross’ party in their constituency, with 21 per cent backing the party on the regional list, which would see 24 MSPs elected, down seven from 2016.

Another strong performance for the Greens on 10 per cent for the list would see them return a record high 11 MSPs, up five from 2016.

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The Poll predicts mixed fortunes for the SNP and Scottish Conservatives

Chris Hopkins, associate director at Savanta ComRes, told the Scotsman that the poll reflected divisions over the ongoing Alex Salmond inquiry.

He said: “Our latest Holyrood poll for the Scotsman has some interesting changes from last month, most notably in the proportions saying the SNP ‘is divided’ rising by six points and, simultaneously, ‘is united’ dropping by eight points.

"These figures naturally have coincided with the ongoing Salmond inquiry and, while there appears to be very little direct impact on the SNP in terms of the Holyrood voting intention, we do see a four point drop in the indyref2 voting intention, although Yes still lead by six points.

“The main beneficiaries in the Holyrood VI are the Scottish Conservatives, up four points in the constituency vote and five points in the list, and while the Conservatives are unlikely to threaten the SNP’s dominance, on these numbers it’s likely that they’ll re-establish themselves as Scotland’s second party over the leaderless Labour.

"An increase in the favourability of Boris Johnson and the UK Government in general may well be contributing to the Scottish Conservative’s improved showing if an election were tomorrow.”

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SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP said: "With 21 consecutive polls showing majority support for independence, it is clear that Scotland's future must be in Scotland's hands - not Boris Johnson's.

"People in Scotland have the right to decide their own future, in a post-pandemic referendum. The issue at the very heart of the election in May will be who has the right to decide what sort of country we should be after the pandemic - the people of Scotland or Boris Johnson?

"Scotland can reject Brexit, Tory austerity cuts and Westminster government's we don't vote for - and choose to build a strong, fair and equal recovery as an independent country.

He added: "While polls are encouraging, the SNP will not take anything for granted. The only way to guarantee Scotland can decide our own future is with both votes going to the SNP in May."