Labour could pick up ten Westminster seats from the SNP in the event of a general election, Scotland's foremost polling expert has said. 

Professor Sir John Curtice said that Sir Keir Starmer's party would be hopeful of making big gains in the wake of Humza Yousaf's election as SNP leader, and that the gap between the two parties was narrowing. 

Sir John said Labour were the main unionist threat to the Scottish Nationalists, as they could appeal to people who support indepenence but not back Mr Yousaf's party. 

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The academic, who is professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, told TalkTV: “I think the Labour Party will certainly feel they have an opportunity and they are quite right to feel that way.

“They are now running at about 30% in Scotland. That leaves them only 10 points behind the SNP.

“The reason why that matters is that at kind of level of lead, the Labour Party begins to pick up seats from the SNP.

“There are around 10 seats in Scotland which might fall to Labour if the SNP lead across Scotland as a whole is down to 10 points.”

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He added: “The Labour Party is the one unionist party that has some ability to appeal to some people who are in favour of independence but are not necessarily going to vote for the SNP.

“The crucial question is whether the Labour Party can increase that constituency.”