A poll conducted on the eve of the Holyrood election has found that 50 per cent of voters want the next Scottish Government to focus on the NHS and social care, with the economy and jobs being the next priority – and a second independence referendum coming eighth on the list.

The poll by Survation, for the Scotland in Union campaign organisation, found that just one in eight people believe independence is one of the most important issues for the new SNP government.

It also found that only 37 per cent of Scots believe there should be a referendum before the end of 2023, which has been suggested by Nicola Sturgeon as the right time for a second vote on the constitution.

The survey, of over 1000 adults, also asked how people would vote in a referendum – using the option of leaving or remaining in the UK rather than the usual question of whether Scotland should be independent or not with a yes or no choice – and found 58 per cent would choose to “remain part of the United Kingdom”.

Asked to select up to three of the most important issues the new Scottish Government should prioritise, 50 per cent chose the NHS and social care, 46 per cent economy and jobs, 45 per cent Covid-19 recovery, 30 per cent education – and only 12 per cent opted for independence.

On the possibility of another referendum, 51 per cent agreed it would make “Scottish society more divided” – and only 34 per cent disagreed.

Scotland in Union said it would promote the findings on billboards and on social media “as a reminder to the SNP that it must listen to the people of Scotland and focus on people’s priorities – and not treat every vote it received as support for a referendum.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the organisation, said: “The new SNP government must listen to the people of Scotland, who are clear that independence is not a priority. The very last thing we need right now is more division in our society.

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