Poll suggests Scottish independence a real possibility

London - An opinion poll published on Tuesday showed a dramatic increase in support for Scottish independence, just two weeks before a referendum on ending 300 years of union with the rest of the United Kingdom.

The "no" to independence campaign's lead has collapsed to six points from 14 in mid-August, according to YouGov. Fifty-three per cent of people now say they are against independence compared to 47% who are in favour.

"A close finish looks likely, and a 'yes' victory is now a real possibility", said Peter Kellner, YouGov president.

The survey is significant because YouGov had previously recorded lower numbers in favour of independence compared to similar polls by other companies.

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, described the poll as a "breakthrough" and said it showed his campaign had the "big momentum".

"We only need another 3-point swing to achieve a Yes for Scotland on the 18th", he said.

The YouGov poll questioned 1 063 Scots between 28 August and 1 September.

The swing in favour of independence was due to more positive views of the Scottish economy, said Kellner, as well as fears that the National Health Service would deteriorate if Scotland remains part of the UK.

"[Scottish First Minister Alex] Salmond has started to neutralise the fear factor that drove the big 'no' leads until a month ago", said Kellner.

The "yes" campaign has also gained momentum following two televised debates in August, between Salmond and Alistair Darling, a former chancellor of the exchequer who is leading the British government's Better Together campaign.

While Darling was widely regarded as having won the first debate, opinion polls showed Salmond was seen as having won the second.

Around 5 million people resident in Scotland are eligible to vote in the referendum on 18 September.