More than half of the UK public believe a second Scottish independence referendum should take place if the SNP gains a Holyrood majority, according to a poll.
The Ipsos Mori survey found support was highest among those in Northern Ireland (66%) and Scotland (56%), while a majority of those in England and Wales also believe the party should be able to hold another ballot (51%).
In other findings from the poll, more than half think the UK will not exist in its current form in a decade.
The findings show 51% across the UK would support a second referendum if the SNP wins a majority, with 40% saying they would not and 8% saying they do not know.
Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos Mori Scotland, said: “The Scottish Parliament elections on May 6 look set to be a critical point in the future of the Union.
“Should the SNP win a majority of seats, as looks likely if current levels of support hold, it will be much more difficult for the UK Government to refuse a second referendum on independence.
“And these figures suggest that on balance, the UK public are on board with that course of action – more believe that the UK Government should allow a second referendum in the event of a SNP majority than say it should not.”
The survey included a representative sample of 8,558 people over 16 in the UK.
Interviews were conducted online between April 1 and 7, with data weighted to match the profile of the population.
Half of the UK public said they would prefer Scotland to vote against becoming an independent country if another referendum was held while 17% would prefer them to vote for this.
Results show opinion is split in Scotland – 46% would prefer their country to vote against independence while 45% would prefer Scots to vote for it.
Those in England and Wales are most likely to want Scotland to vote against leaving the UK – 51% and 57% respectively.
SNP depute leader, Keith Brown, said: “Each of the four nations of the UK are united in recognising the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland, but Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer continue to be at odds with the rest of the country.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Now more than ever, people in Scotland want to see the UK Government and the devolved administrations working together to protect lives and livelihoods.
“The push for a divisive referendum is simply irresponsible.
“It is a distraction, when we need to focus on continuing to tackle the pandemic and rebuilding our economy.”