Support for Scottish independence has nudged ahead of support for the Union over a sustained period of opinion polling, according to expert Professor Sir John Curtice.
A Panelbase poll in the Sunday Times had support for a Yes vote in an independence referendum at 54% and support for No at 46%.
It also found strong backing for Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, with the First Minister’s approval rating on the issue at 60 points.
Boris Johnson’s approval rating on the crisis was at minus 39 points.
The SNP would pick up 11 more seats in the Scottish Parliament, according to an analysis of the poll, giving the party a total of 74 MSPs out of 129.
Sir John said the average of the Panelbase polls over last six months, including the latest, put Yes on 51% and No on 49%.
He said it was the first time in polling history that Yes had been ahead for such a long period.
In an article for the Sunday Times, Sir John said: “Never before have the foundations of public support for the Union looked so weak.
“Our latest poll from Panelbase confirms other recent polling that has suggested those who intend to vote yes in a second independence referendum have nudged ahead.
“Support for the SNP is also at a record high.
“Panelbase’s polls conducted over the past six months, including today’s, have on average put ‘yes’ on 51% and ‘no’ on 49%.
“This is the first time in polling history that ‘yes’ has been ahead over such a sustained period.
“Support for independence is up three points on that recorded on average last year — and six points on 2018.”
He said those who had switched from No to Yes were among people who voted both Remain and Leave in the EU referendum.
The Scottish public appeared to support the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic much more than that of the UK Government, he added.
The latest Panelbase poll contacted 1,026 voters in Scotland between Tuesday and Friday.
Responding to the poll, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “The majority of polls since the Westminster election have had Yes in the lead – majority support for independence is now the established position of the people of Scotland.
“On the basis of this sustained record support, it’s impossible for the UK government to deny Scotland a choice over its future.
“This out-of-touch Tory government exemplifies the very worst of the Union, and Boris Johnson may be the best recruiting tool for Scottish independence since Margaret Thatcher.
“The focus of the Scottish Government remains on tackling the coronavirus pandemic, this poll shows Nicola Sturgeon’s approval rating is three times that of Boris Johnson.”
He continued: “While the SNP take absolutely nothing for granted, these polls do make for positive reading ahead of the Holyrood election in 2021.”