Michael Settle
UK Political Editor.
Herald Newspaper

SCOTTISH voters are turning strongly against independence, according to the latest opinion poll, which shows the cross-party No camp charging ahead with a record 20-point lead.

The snapshot by TNS BMRB taken after both campaign launches puts those against independence on 50% and those in favour on 30%; the latter figure being the lowest received for independence in five years of surveys by the Edinburgh-based pollster.

Six months ago, the gap was nine points in the No camp's favour; a year ago, it was one point in the Yes camp's favour.

The latest poll will intensify the dilemma for Alex Salmond as it also shows growing support for giving Holyrood more powers.

TNS BMRB, which conducted face-to-face home interviews with 1000 adults across Scotland between June 27 and July 5, asked two questions: the first straightforwardly on independence, which produced the 50/30 split; and the second posing three options, including more powers.

On this latter question, support for the pro-independence option fell by three points to 23% during the past six months.

Equally, support for the anti-independence option fell by three points to 29% over the same period. However, support for more powers rose by seven points to 37%.

These figures will only add to the growing speculation and, indeed, expectation in some quarters, that the First Minister will succumb to political temptation and back a second question on the referendum ballot paper calling for "devo-max".

Chris Eynon, head of TNS-BMRB Scotland, said the anti-independence camp would be buoyed by the latest set of figures.

He said: "The balance of public opinion has swung strongly in favour of the Union and the independence movement would appear for now to have their work cut out to reverse this. They at least have time on their side to do so."