Supporters of Scottish independence take narrow poll lead for first time

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Supporters of Scottish independence take narrow poll lead for first time
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: A discarded Yes sticker lies on cobble stones along the Royal Mile after the people of Scotland voted no to independence on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The majority of Scottish people have today voted 'No' in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A pro-independence supporter is pictured in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-independence supporters are pictured in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-independence supporters console each other in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-independence supporters push each other in a shopping trolley in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland rejected independence on Friday in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but paved the way for a major transfer of powers away from London. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Leader of the UK Independence Party, UKIP Nigel Farage gives interviews on Abingdon Green on September 19, 2014 in London, England. The majority of Scottish people have today voted 'No' in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: 'Better Together' supporters celebrate the result of the Scottish referendum on independence at the count centre for the Scottish referendum at Ingleston Hall on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The majority of Scottish people have today voted “No” in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Leader of the UK Independence Party, UKIP Nigel Farage posts letters to Scottish MP's urging them not to vote on English laws on September 19, 2014 in London, England. The majority of Scottish people have today voted 'No' in the referendum and Scotland will remain within the historic union of countries that make up the United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
British Labour Party MP and pro-union supporter Alistair Darling addresses supporters during a 'Better Together' referendum event in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19, 2014. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond on Friday conceded defeat in his party's campaign for independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, after all but one result from the historic referendum was declared. AFP PHOTO / ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media outside 10 Downing Street in London, on September 19, 2014, following results in the Scottish referendum on independence. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond on Friday conceded defeat in his party's campaign for independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, after all but one result from the historic referendum was declared. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond poses for photographs after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Yes campaign and No campaign posters stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The young son of a Yes campaigner takes a picture of a sign outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A young voter leaves after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, file photo, a "No" campaign supporter and a "Yes" campaign supporter chat holding posters after a No campaign event where a number of speeches were made by different people and politicians in Glasgow, Scotland. Breaking up is hard to do, especially after 300 years. The people of the United Kingdom will find out just how hard if Scotland votes for independence on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and figurehead of the Yes campaign for the Scottish independence referendum delivers a speech to Yes campaign supporters at the concert hall, in Perth, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People react during a pro Scottish independence campaign rally, in central Glasgow, Scotland,Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The two sides in Scotland's independence debate are scrambling to convert undecided voters, with just one day to go until a referendum on separation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
DALMALLY, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Pro-Scottish independence 'Yes Scotland' campaign stall at the Dalmally Agricultural Society Show on September 6, 2014 in Dalmally, Scotland. The Dalmally show is an annual event in which prizes are given to best livestock, best-grown vegetables, for cooking and home industries arts. Exhibitions, festivities and demonstrations also take place at this major Scottish agricultural show. Scotland will vote on whether or not to Leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Political viewpoints decorate the exterior of premises- one reads 'Vote No' in favour of the Union, the other is a 'Yes' sign for a 'Yes Scotland' pro-independence office, showing opposing sides of the argument for the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, speaks from the soapbox in support of the Union as he continues his '100 towns in 100 days' tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, speaks from the soapbox in support of the Union as he continues his '100 towns in 100 days' tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, arrives carrying his soapboxes as he continues his '100 towns in 100 days' tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Pro-Union supporters listen to Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, as speaks in defence of the Union during his '100 towns in 100 days' tour, outside the Gallery of Modern Art, on September 4, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Murphy resumed his tour this week after having to suspend it last week following disruption and attempts to silence him by supporters of the pro-Independence vote. Scotland will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in a referendum to be held on September 18th this year. (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)
BLANTYRE, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Labour Leader Ed Miliband joins the Scottish Labour Party's independence campaign trail on September 4, 2014 in Blantyre, Scotland. Miliband urged Scots to reject independence in a referendum on the September 18, promising he will win a national election next year and give them the changes they desire. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 29: Better Together leader Alistair Darling joins the Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar during a visit to Glasgow Central Mosque on August 29, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr. Darling and Mr. Sarwar were making the case for keeping the Scotland in the Union ahead of the referendum vote on independence on September 18th. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 27: Yes and Better Together supporters exchange views with one another as Jim Murphy Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (not seen), speaks on his soapbox during his '100 Towns in 100 Days' tour on August 27, 2014 in Dundee, Scotland. Mr. Murphy, Labour MP, is touring Scotland on behalf of the Better Together, spreading his message about the benefits of Scotland remaining part of the union and informing the public of the risks that independence poses for the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 27: Yes and Better Together supporters exchange views with one another as Jim Murphy Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (not seen), speaks on his soapbox during his '100 Towns in 100 Days' tour on August 27, 2014 in Dundee, Scotland. Mr. Murphy, Labour MP, is touring Scotland on behalf of the Better Together, spreading his message about the benefits of Scotland remaining part of the union and informing the public of the risks that independence poses for the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 27: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown attends a Better Together rally on August 27, 2014 in Dundee, Scotland. Both encouraged Scots with postal votes to vote no to independence, as postal ballots are being sent out this week to voters across Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
FENWICK, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 26: Yes campaign placards are placed in a field on August 26, 2014 in Fenwick, Scotland. In less than a month voters will go to the polls to vote yes or no on whether Scotland should become an independent country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond poses for photographs after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Children too young to vote play with a Yes campaigner, right, using Yes campaign big hands outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Yes campaigners stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A Yes campaigner and a No campaigner stand outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Voters leave after casting their ballots at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Flemish nationalists and others in support of Scottish independence stand in front of a 'Yes' banner in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scots held the fate of the United Kingdom in their hands Thursday as they voted in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage with England that built an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond meets members of the public on a walkabout in Newmachar, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
A man repairs part of a makeshift Scottish national flag before a demonstration in favor of Scottish independence in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scots held the fate of the United Kingdom in their hands Thursday as they voted in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage with England that built an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Flemish nationalists and other supporters carry flags as they take part in a demonstration in favor of Scottish independence in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scots held the fate of the United Kingdom in their hands Thursday as they voted in a referendum on becoming an independent state, deciding whether to unravel a marriage with England that built an empire but has increasingly been felt by many Scots as stifling and one-sided.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Scottish independence referendum Yes supporter 83-year-old Edinburgh resident Isabelle Smith, who lived in the U.S. for three decades, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press outside a polling place in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. For Smith, who went to the polling station decked out in a blue-and-white pro-independence shirt and rosette, statehood for Scotland was a dream nurtured during her time living in the United States with her late husband. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A school boy arrives at a polling station to vote in the Scottish Referendum in Peebles, Scotland,Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Scotland votes on independence. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can vote in the referendum. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, centre left, talks to the media after casting his ballot at Ritchie Hall in Strichen, Scotland, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
People react during a pro Scottish independence campaign rally, in central Glasgow, Scotland,Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The two sides in Scotland's independence debate are scrambling to convert undecided voters, with just one day to go until a referendum on separation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and figurehead of the Yes campaign for the Scottish independence referendum smiles at the start of his speech to Yes campaign supporters at the concert hall, in Perth, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Former British Finance Minister and No campaigner for the Scottish independence referendum Alistair Darling gestures at the end of his speech at a No campaign event in Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Will the ayes have it, or will Scotland say naw thanks? No one is certain. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The audience applaud and hold No campaign posters during a No campaign event where a number of speeches were made by different people and politicians in Glasgow, Scotland, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Will the ayes have it, or will Scotland say naw thanks? No one is certain. Excitement and anxiety mounted across the country Wednesday, the final day of campaigning before Thursday's referendum on independence. With opinion polls suggesting the result is too close to call and turnout expected to reach record levels, supporters of separation feel they are within touching distance of victory — but wonder whether their surge in the polls will be enough. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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By STEPHEN ADDISON

(Reuters) - Supporters of Scottish independence from Britain have taken their first opinion poll lead since the referendum campaign began, indicating a real possibility that they might win, according to a YouGov survey for the Sunday Times newspaper.

With less than two weeks to go before the Sept. 18 vote, the poll put the "Yes" to independence campaign on 51 percent against "no" camp on 49 percent, overturning a 22-point lead for the unionist campaign in just a month, the Sunday Times said.

YouGov said that the results excluded those who would not vote and those who did not plan to vote or did not know how they would vote. With those groups included, secessionists would be on 47 percent and those championing the United Kingdom would be on 45 percent, it added.

It said that the poll, conducted after pro-independence leader Alex Salmond was widely judged to have won the second of two televised debates, amounts to a statistical dead heat at the moment. "The last poll ... was the first to represent a real possibility for a "yes" win ...," it said.

A separate poll by Panelbase, commissioned by the pro-independence campaign, showed support for a breakaway rising but still short of a majority at 48 percent. When undecideds were included, that fell to 44 percent.

After months of surveys showing nationalists heading for defeat, recent polls have been showing the gap narrowing to the extent that they raise the real prospect that secessionists led by Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP) could achieve their goal of breaking the 307-year-old union with England.

A previous YouGov poll on Sept. 1 put the lead for the "no" to secession campaign at just six points, down from 14 points in the middle of August and 22 points at the start of that month.

But the latest average of the polls, issued on Sept. 1 by Strathclyde University Professor of Politics John Curtice, still placed the unionist lead at 10 points.

The late showing by the independence camp has hit sterling on the foreign exchanges and electrified Britain's political class after its summer break.

A vote to break away would be followed by negotiations with London on what to do about the currency, national debt, North Sea oil and the future of Britain's nuclear submarine base in Scotland ahead of independence penciled in for March 24, 2016.

If Scots voted to leave the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron would face calls to resign before a national election in May 2015 while the opposition Labour party's chances of gaining a majority could be scuppered if it lost its Scottish lawmakers.

Cameron, who was due to visit Queen Elizabeth in Scotland on Sunday, has insisted he will not resign.

Nationalists accuse London of squandering Scottish wealth and say that Scotland would be one of the world's richest countries if it took control of its own destiny.

Unionists, including Britain's three main political parties, say the United Kingdom is stronger if it stays together and that Scottish independence would bring significant financial, economic and political uncertainty.

Politicians from the "Better Together" unionist campaign have been trying to tempt Scots with offers of greater devolution.

This week, former prime minister Gordon Brown, himself a Scot, promised Edinburgh more powers over its tax, social and economic affairs if Scots voted against independence.

The Observer newspaper said British ministers planned to make further concrete offers in coming days to allow Scots to devise a federal future for their country.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Scottish Independence Campaign Leads Poll for the First Time

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