General election is not about independence debate, says Nicola Sturgeon

Theresa May's announcement that "now is not the time" for another referendum has not boosted support for independence, according to a new poll.

"It's no surprise that Ukip right now is losing support to the Tories because the Tories are now threatening to take the United Kingdom in a direction that a few years ago Ukip could only have dreamed about, but it should alarm all of us".

And barely a quarter of Scots back Nicola Sturgeon's call for another breakaway vote to be held in either spring 2018 or autumn 2019.

Panelbase polled 1,029 voters between April 18 and 21.

But once "don't knows" were stripped out, the split was 60 per cent to 40 per cent in favour of remaining in the UK.

Conservative support among those voted "leave" past year has increased from 33% last September to 53% now.

The SNP have demanded a second independence referendum after Scotland voted by 62 percent to remain in the European Union but was outnumbered by Brexit voters in England and Wales.

"We are at the start of an election campaign where competing visions will be put before the people and one of those visions, the Tory vision, should be ringing alarm bells loud and clear across Scotland", Ms Sturgeon is expected to say.

"Clearly I then, and this election is not deciding whether or not Scotland is independent, but in a future debate about that I would have to set out the process for re-securing our future with Europe".

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"So this is about whether Scotland's voice is heard and Scotland's interests are protected".

Mr Corbyn will add: " While the timing of the election was unexpected, the choice is clear and the stakes are high. "A vote for the Tories is not some pain-free tactical vote".

But John Lamont, Scottish Conservative chief whip said: "This poll shows once against there has been no surge in support for independence".

Tom Costley, head of Kantar in Scotland, suggested several possible reasons for the apparent weakening in pro-independence sentiment, including media criticism of the SNP's performance in other areas such as health and education.

The survey by Kantar found more voters in Scotland don't want independence or to have a vote on the issue.

"Moreover, with Theresa May calling a general election for 8 June, there is the potential for election fatigue with the prospect of an extended referendum campaign too much for the Scottish electorate".

While that would be the SNP's second best Westminster result, any losses and momentum shift could weaken Sturgeon's hand in trying to persuade May to authorise a second independence referendum after May said it could undermine Brexit negotiations.

"The truth is the Tories are starting to think that they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it", Ms Sturgeon said.

Labour now has just one MP in Scotland following the 2015 general election, when an SNP tsunami saw the party win all but three of the 59 Scottish seats up for grabs.

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