Second Scots poll gives No campaign narrow lead

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A second poll has supported claims by the No camp that it has halted Alex Salmond’s charge towards a Yes vote in Scotland’s referendum on independence next week although the result remains too close to call.

An ICM poll for the Guardian gave No a lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent following a YouGov poll on Thursday which gave the pro-union side a lead of 52 per cent to 48 per cent. Both excluded undecided voters.

The ICM phone poll said 17 per cent were undecided with less than a week until the September 18 polling day, suggesting the result is still highly unpredictable. If the undecideds are included, the rounded figures in the ICM poll are 42 per cent backing No and 40 per cent supporting Yes.

The YouGov poll, in contrast, said only 4 per cent of voters had yet to make up their minds.

The polls have calmed nerves in the Better Together campaign which feared last weekend that Mr Salmond might be building up an unstoppable momentum for independence.

The intervention of senior business figures for the No campaign in recent days has helped to highlight the potential risks of a Yes vote.

Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, also helped to staunch the loss of Labour supporters to Yes after he offered a tight timetable to deliver more powers to the Scottish parliament over tax and welfare.

But Mr Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, insists momentum is still for independence and that Scots will ignore “scaremongering” by Westminster politicians and will vote Yes next Thursday.

And Tim Martin, the chairman of the JD Wetherspoon pub group, which employs 3,000 people in Scotland, said on Friday politicians and businesspeople were “underestimating the intelligence of voters” with their warnings.

Mr Martin, who said he was neutral in the campaign, said there was “no reason why Scotland shouldn’t thrive as an independent country if that’s what Scots want”.

The ICM poll was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, which was when the three main political party leaders visited Scotland to campaign for Better Together. More than 60 non-Scottish Labour MPs are also in Scotland helping the No campaign.

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