The Scottish Government is calling for people to give their views on a draft independence bill before the consultation phase ends next week.
The bill would determine how any future referendum on independence for Scotland will be run, and a public consultation ends on January 11.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that Scots should be given a fresh chance to consider the prospect of independence after Brexit as it amounts to a “material change” in circumstances.
Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay said in a statement on Wednesday that “the option of independence must stay on the table.”
“The EU referendum result is the biggest threat in modern times to our long-term economic well-being and leaving the EU could affect Scottish jobs, investment and standards of living,” he said.
The power to grant a referendum ultimately lies with Westminster, not Holyrood, and prime minister Theresa May has already ruled one out, saying there was “no need.”
Polling also indicates a low level of support for a second referendum in the near future. A BMG poll carried out in December found that, with “Don’t knows” excluded, more than six in ten (61.5%) Scots are against a new vote in 2017, compared with just 38.5% in favour of a referendum this year.
The same poll also put support for independence, excluding those who said “Don’t know,” at 45.5% with 54.5% opposed, mirroring BMG polling in October, and almost the same as the 2014 result.
Pollster John Curtice told BI in December that, contrary to general expectations, Brexit was actually damaging the support for independence.
He said: “Before the June referendum, around 90% of people said they would vote the same way in a second independence referendum as they did in the first. That figure is now much closer to 80%.”
That “churn” is moving in both directions and appears to be favouring the “No” side.
“The problem for the pro-independence side is that somewhere between a quarter and a third of people who voted Yes in September 2014 voted Leave in June 2016,” Curtice said.
“While some people might have switched from No to Yes in the wake of Brexit, as the SNP anticipated, there was also a risk that some people would switch from Yes to No — for them, the prospect of being in a UK outside the EU becomes much more attractive than a Scotland intent on remaining inside the EU,” he said.
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