Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation with support for the SNP only two points ahead of Scottish Labour at Westminster, a new poll has revealed.

The study also found that support for Scottish independence was at 46 per cent ahead of the First Minister announcing she is to step down.

The poll, conducted just before Ms Sturgeon gave her resignation speech at Bute House, also found 48% said things are going in the “wrong direction” for Scotland.

Read more: Analysis: Why Nicola Sturgeon has chosen now to quit as First Minister

This represented an increase from 39% who said things are going in the wrong direction when the same poll was conducted in November.

The poll was conducted for the academic group Scottish Election Study (SES), with YouGov surveying 1,239 Scots in the five days before Ms Sturgeon’s announcement.

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With “don’t knows” removed, support for a Yes vote in an independence referendum was at 45.6% and No on 54.4%.

This also represented a decline in Yes support from the previous SES poll in November, which put Yes on 50.2%.

Read more: Labour urges SNP hopefuls to ditch Sturgeon's £1billion care shake-up

However, the SES researchers noted there is a considerable generational divide on attitudes to independence.

Attitudes towards treating the next general election as a de facto independence referendum are complicated by the fact that many see it primarily as a way to remove the Conservatives from office, they said.

For Westminster voting intention, the poll put the SNP on 29%, Labour on 27% and the Conservatives on 12%.

SES researcher Dr Fraser McMillan said: “While the outgoing First Minister’s claim that there is now a majority for Scottish independence in the electorate is contradicted by Scottish Election Study data, it would be premature to write the movement off.

“Yes support rarely dips below the level achieved at the 2014 independence referendum, and, while it has dropped from recent highs, it still commands a majority among working-age Scots.

Read more: Independence stalemate hands Sturgeon's successor a poisoned chalice

“Although Sturgeon has not achieved her life-long goal while First Minister, she has also not presided over any substantial decline in support for independence from the then-unprecedented 2014 result, shoring up backing among younger age groups.”

Professor Ailsa Henderson, head of the SES, said: “With independence support back at its 2014 levels, the prospect of a de facto referendum is a gamble made more complicated by the fact that Scottish voters perceive the next UK election as a way to remove the Conservatives from office.

“Yes supporters actually prioritise removing the current UK Government over maximising indy support, but for Labour and Lib Dem voters, constitutional preferences trump partisan ones.

“While the wider political context in the UK is sometimes used as an argument for independence, in this instance it seems likely to complicate paths towards it.”

At the Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh today, deputy leader Jackie Baillie said her party intended to oust both Rishi Sunak and the next SNP leader from power.

She said: “I have always thought that Nicola Sturgeon was a skilful political operator – and it is clear that her instincts remain undiminished. She knew that the time was up for the SNP.

“She knew that her choice was leave now – or be replaced by the Scottish Labour Party.

“Downing Street is in our sights and so too is Bute House. 

“So, I am putting Rishi Sunak and whoever replaces Nicola Sturgeon on notice – Labour is back in business and coming for your job.”

Scottish General Secretary James Kelly, a former MSP for Rutherglen, named three Nationalist MPs and their seats as among the party’s top targets.

He said: “There’s no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon has got fed up with being First Minister of Scotland, but also all over Scotland were getting fed up with the SNP.

“So the next big contest for us is the general election. I’ve got a message for those Nationalist MPs and their fellow travellers who feebly sat on the Westminster benches - 

Scottish Labour are coming to get ye.

“So for Patrick Grady in Glasgow North [SNP], your time is up. For Margaret Ferrier in Rutherglen and Hamilton West [former SNP, now Independent], it’s all coming to an end. No more Covid train journeys for you, Margaret. And for Kenny MacAskill in East Lothian [Alba], time to send him homewards to think again.”