A QUARTER of voters believe Scotland already has a mandate for a second referendum, regardless of the result of the elections, while 40 per cent believe the opposite, according to a new study.

The research conducted by the Scottish Election Study, prior to polling day, showed that opinions are divided when it came to what constituted a mandate for a second vote.

Of the 4523 Scottish voters asked, 39% said there would be no mandate for a second vote regardless of the result, while 23% said there was a mandate already.

Others said the result of the election would decide, with 8% saying that the SNP winning the largest number of seats would give it the go-ahead for another referendum.

A pro-independence majority of MSPs would have to be elected for it to provide a mandate, according to 15% of voters, while another 15% said the SNP would have to get a majority in its own right.

Rob Johns, professor of politics at the University of Essex, said the SNP’s strategy may have been a risk.

He explained: “Voters' responses on the mandate question show the risks involved in the SNP's strategy.

“By playing up the importance of the party getting its own majority, it persuaded plenty of its own voters that anything short of that would undermine the mandate.

“This is unlikely to weaken support for independence, but it does make the politics rather trickier."

Boris Johnson yesterday continued to rule out granting permission for a second referendum, saying it would be “irresponsible and reckless” at the present time.

However SNP MSP Angus Robertson, who was elected yesterday to Edinburgh Central, said there should be another referendum as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I look forward to delivering our manifesto commitment, its what people voted for, and if there is a majority in favour of independence that also counts.

“That’s the way democracies work.

“I think democracy is quite important, and it would be really good if all parties were held to the standards of normal democratic decision-making and if people sent a majority into Scotland’s parliament saying as we emerge from covid there should be an independence referendum, that’s exactly what should happen.

“In a democracy, if people vote for something that’s what should happen.”