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Support among Scots to remain in EU at strongest level yet, poll finds

An Ipsos Mori poll for STV News reveals support among Scots to stay in European Union at 65%, the highest recorded figure.

Ipsos MORI European Union poll showing support among Scots for staying in the UK. Image from STV graphics. Uploaded

Support among Scots for the UK remaining in the European Union is at its highest level yet, an STV poll has revealed.

Prime Minister David Cameron previously announced the people of Britain will take part in a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU by the end of 2017.

An Ipsos MORI poll for STV News found on Wednesday that 65% of people in Scotland support staying in the institution, while 22% want to leave and 13% undecided.

That number increases to 74% support for remaining in the institution when respondents who answered "don't know" are not included in the final calculation.

Either interpretation of the newly released figures show pro-EU support among Scots at its highest ever level recorded in a poll.

A total of 1029 people aged 16 or over took part in the telephone survey which took place over seven days from last Monday.

Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU? (including 'don't know' responses)

The findings compare with the most recent Ipsos MORI poll of English voters last month which appears to show opinion moving "in the opposite direction".

The October poll put support south of the border for staying in the EU at 52% and support for leaving at 36%, with 12% answering "don't know".

STV's political editor Bernard Ponsonby added: "The results of our opinion poll make interesting reading: 65% of Scots saying they would vote to remain part of the EU, 22% would vote to leave with 13% undecided and this in sharp contrast to polls that have taken place throughout the whole of the UK.

"Indeed one out for Survation today says that the Yes camp only have a two per cent lead so it suggests sharp differences of opinion on the issue of EU membership, north and south of the border."

SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: "That people in Scotland are also backing our place in Europe in record numbers is also very encouraging - and shows that the right-wing Euroscepticism of the Tory government is being completely rejected, with almost three-quarters of Scots backing the positive case for EU membership."

With less than six months to go before Scotland goes to the polls at Holyrood, the poll shows the SNP still significantly ahead while the Scottish Conservatives have gained ground.

Among those likely to vote, 50% would cast their constituency vote for the SNP, a decrease of five points from August this year.

While 20% would vote for Scottish Labour with the support for the Scottish Conservatives two points adrift on 18%, up six points from August. Support for the Scottish Liberal Democrats remains at seven per cent support.

In terms of the party list vote, the SNP has dropped four points since August with a 46% backing. Labour also drop a point with support at 19% and again the Scottish Tories gain four points and move to 16%.

The Scottish Lib Dems register 8% support with the Scottish Greens at 7%.

If the poll results are then extrapolated into actual results using the Scotland Votes seat calculator website at the next Holyrood election the SNP would be on an estimated 72 seats, Labour 25, Tories 17, Greens eight and Lib Dems seven.

Mr Mackay added: "This is another very welcome poll showing people in Scotland are continuing to back the SNP's record in government and our positive, ambitious vision for Scotland's future - in contrast to a Labour Party which clearly isn't even regarded as a credible party of opposition, never mind a credible party of government."

A Labour spokesman said: "We are in no doubt that regaining the trust and confidence of the Scottish people will take time, but we are confident that with fresh leadership and a focus on cutting the gap between the richest and the rest we can be the party that people in Scotland put their faith in again.

"Scotland needs a radical alternative to an SNP government who are beginning to make the same mistakes Labour used to make. That's why next May the SNP won't get it all their own way."

Mr Diffley added: "This latest poll continues to show the SNP in a commanding position despite losing some ground after a bruising few weeks.

"Interestingly, it is the Scottish Conservatives who benefit and they are now seriously challenging Labour as the main challenger to the SNP ahead of the Holyrood vote next May.

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