FEWER than a quarter of Scots want Nicola Sturgeon to call a second independence referendum this autumn, according to a new poll.

The Daily Record survey found only 23 per cent of people thought the First Minister should push for a new vote, 19 per cent who wanted one later, while 49 per cent opposed it full stop.

The remaining nine per cent were don’t knows.

The findings increase the pressure on Ms Sturgeon as she considers her next move in the escalating constitutional fight with Westminster over Brexit.

The First Minister called a second referendum in March 2017, then “reset” her plan three months later after the SNP lost a third of its MPs in the general election.

She had promised to update MSPs on a “precise timescale” on a second referendum this autumn, once the shape of the final Brexit deals becomes clear.

Earlier this week, her Brexit Secretary Michael Russell suggested a second EU referendum could double as an independence vote if the 2016 result was repeated and Scotland backed Remain and the UK voted Leave.

There is fight between the UK and Scottish governments at the Supreme Court between now and the autumn, which could end in Westminster trampling over Holyrood’s alternative Brexit Bill, a huge moment the SNP would add to their case for independence.

But the lack of popular support for a second plebiscite will be a concern for the First Minister.

Nevertheless, the poll also found support for independence slightly higher than in the 55-45 No vote of 2014, with 53 per cent opposed and 47 per cent in favour, excluding don’t knows.

The Scottish Parliament voted last year in favour of Westminster transferring the power to hold a referendum, but the request for a 'Section 30 order' was rebuffed by Theresa May.

If Ms Sturgeon pushed again for a referendum, the Prime Minister would almost certainly refuse again, but the SNP could cite the snub in the 2021 Holyrood election as evidence of Westminster arrogance, as they try to win a clear-cut mandate for a new vote.

Professor Sir John Curtice of Strathclyde University said the poll showed that, despite SNP hopes of a shift in opinion, Brexit was still having little impact on the independence question.

He said: “Although the SNP have had somewhat the better of the argument in the row about the impact of Brexit Withdrawal Bill on the powers of the Scottish Parliament, there’s still no sign of any significant change in the level for support for independence – or much evidence of enthusiasm for an early ballot among the party’s supporters.”

The Unionist parties said Ms Sturgeon should drop an idea the public didn’t clearly want.

Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said: "The people of Scotland want the government focused on jobs, schools and hospitals, not another referendum campaign that creates false divisions between working class people when the real divide is between the richest and the rest of us.

"The chaos at the heart of the Tory government has focused people’s minds on the extreme challenges of leaving a political and economic union, and it is clear that there is not strong support for Nicola Sturgeon to try and force another referendum onto the agenda."

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “This poll again shows the majority of people do not want a second referendum - and they overwhelmingly don’t want one any time soon.

“Nicola Sturgeon should use this research as motivation to take the threat of another divisive vote off the table.”

The SNP highlighted the narrowing between the Yes and No sides on independence compared to 2014.

MSP Derek Mackay, the party’s business convener, said support for independence remained at historically high levels, "with a Yes majority within the margin of error and well within touching distance".

Dropping a hint that Ms Sturgeon was minded to push for a second vote, he said: “We’re not - yet - in the heat of an independence campaign.

“But as Westminster moves from chaos to utter shambles, proving beyond doubt it is incapable of protecting our interests, the case for independence becomes ever stronger.

“Little wonder that since last year there has been a marked rise in the number of people who back giving the people of Scotland that choice over their future.

“With the full powers of independence we could make better choices in Scotland’s interests and avoid the damage of a Tory Brexit.”

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie added: "It’s remarkable that support for independence remains so high given that the Yes movement hasn’t done a single bit of formal campaigning.

"The status quo will no longer exist in March 2019 and I suspect that voters in Scotland will come to demand a say on whether we should be dragged along with this Brexit mess."

Survation interviewed 1002 Scots online between July 5 and 10.