EDINBURGH Nearly half of Scottish voters do not want another referendum on independence and the issue appears to be driving up support for the Conservatives ahead of a June election, according to a YouGov poll published in The Times newspaper on Friday.
The poll also showed Theresa May's Conservatives due to win more seats in Scotland in the upcoming election than it has held for decades, rising to eight seats by taking seven from Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP).
The survey also showed a decline in the approval ratings of Sturgeon herself, who leads the devolved Scottish government.
She has argued that another independence referendum is necessary because Scots voted to keep their EU membership last June and they now face Brexit. But 49 percent of Scots are against a referendum being held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019 - the timetable she has proposed. Some 37 percent supported this timetable, while 14 percent did not know.
YouGov found the Conservatives gaining traction as they become the preferred party of those who defend a United Kingdom over Scottish independence.
Sturgeon's party would still easily be the biggest party representing Scotland with 49 of the 59 seats assigned to it in Britain's 650-seat national parliament. But the survey of 1,017 people between April 24 and 27 also showed the leader of the SNP at Westminster, Angus Robertson, losing his Moray seat for the first time since 2001.
Scots voted by a wide margin to stick with the European Union in last June's referendum, clashing with the UK as a whole which voted to leave. Sturgeon won backing from the Scottish parliament to seek a new referendum, but the May government has rebuffed her request to hold one.
(Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary and James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)