LAST year’s spike in support of independence has “proven to be temporary,” Professor Sir John Curtice has said.

The leading psephologist was speaking after a new poll put Yes on 46 per cent. 

The Survation survey, carried out for True North, found that 54% of voters wanted to stay in the UK.

Following November's ruling that the Scottish Parliament could not hold a referendum without the consent of Westminster, a slew of polls put Yes ahead. 

However, the academic said that now that the dust had settled after the verdict little had changed since last summer.  

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While the SNP were far ahead of their rivals in polling for the next Westminster election, at 43% they are still far below the 50% mark Nicola Sturgeon would hope to reach if the next vote is fought as a de facto referendum. 

Labour were up three points on August last year at 29%, while the Tories were on 18, and the Lib Dems on 7. 

When asked how they would vote if the next general election was fought as a de facto referendum, support for the SNP fell to 38 per cent. Labour and the Tories also saw their vote dip to 22% and 16% respectively. 

The number of people undecided would reach 11%, while 4% of voters would simply refuse to take part.

The results were a bit better for the First Minister’s party at the Holyrood election, though again at 46% for the constituency vote they were still below the 50% mark. 

Here, Labour managed 27 while the Tories were on 17 and the Lib Dems on eight.

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On the list vote, the SNP were on 33%, while Labour were on 25, and the Tories 18. The poll suggests the Scottish Greens would take 12% of the vote up significantly on the 8.1% secured at the 2021 election. 

Professor Curtice said: “Following on from polling conducted shortly before Christmas that pointed in the same direction, today’s poll suggests that the spike in support for independence registered after the Supreme Court judgement on indyref2 has proven to be temporary. 

“At 46%, support for Yes in today’s poll is little different from the 47% figure Survation obtained when they previously addressed the issue last August.

“Meanwhile, the poll suggests that, at 43%, support for the SNP would be well below the 50% mark that Nicola Sturgeon would like to surpass at the next general election – though it also suggests that, at present, fewer than half would vote for pro-independence parties in a Holyrood ballot too.

“However, there is no evidence in the poll that fighting the next election as a ‘de facto’ referendum would reduce the level of SNP support. 

“Rather, slightly more voters (45%) say that they would vote for the SNP in that circumstance.

"In truth, if the SNP are going to win over 50% of the vote in either kind of election, the party will need first to persuade more people of the case for independence.”

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The academic said other questions in the poll showed that Scots were “deeply pessimistic about the prospects for the country’s economy.” 

When asked, just 22% said this year would be good for the economy, compared to 55% who thought it would not be good.

He said: “In truth, voters are far from convinced that either the Scottish or the UK government have the right policies to turn things around, though they are particularly sceptical about the policies emanating from Westminster. 

“Not least of the reasons is that around seven in ten Scots (71%) think that the cost of living crisis is going to get worse and they are far from convinced that that the windfall tax on energy companies has been effective in reducing their bills.”

According to the poll, 87% of people in Scotland said the UK should meet its demand for oil and gas from domestic production.

The results were published on the same week that it was announced that more than 100 applications have been submitted to drill for new oil and gas in the North Sea.

The UK Government paused licensing for new oil and gas developments, which is reserved to Westminster, for three years while it hosted the UN climate change conference in Glasgow.

But UK ministers have said more licences will be made available because of the energy security crisis.

The Scottish Government last week announced a presumption against new oil and gas exploration as part of its new energy strategy.

True North’s managing partner, Fergus Mutch: “Its findings certainly throw up some challenges for both UK and Scottish governments, not least on how best to support an energy sector in transition through an ongoing crisis in global energy security.

“Nowhere is this approach facing more scrutiny than in the north east of Scotland, and it’s interesting to note that this region’s key industries have nationwide backing as an economic force for good and in leading the delivery of our domestic energy requirements, despite the Scottish Government’s announcement of a presumption against new oil and gas exploration as part of its new energy strategy.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As a responsible Government, we have set out a pathway, through our draft energy strategy and just transition plan, to ensure a fair and just transition for our energy workforce, and to bring a new generation of skilled workers into a flourishing energy industry as part of a net-zero Scotland.

“Given the North Sea basin is mature and production is already in decline, any other course of action would only serve to put jobs and our economy at risk.

“Reducing our energy consumption while ramping up our energy generation capabilities through renewables and hydrogen will mean that in a net zero Scotland, we will not only be less reliant on importing oil and gas, but a net exporter of cleaner and greener energy to the rest of the UK and beyond.”