It's the moment Scotland's Yes campaigners have been waiting for – the polls suggest that an independent Scotland is as likely as a continued union with the rest of the UK, if not more so.
As the 18 September referendum approaches, both sides of the debate have been stepping up their attempts to win over voters, particularly from the undecided camp. Yes campaigners say they have “big momentum” behind them, while those who are against independence dispute this.
Yes Scotland may well be right - the gap is narrowing, and fast. At the beginning of last month, the No campaign enjoyed a comfortable lead of 22 per cent over the Yes campaign, but the latest YouGov poll indicates that Yes is ahead of No for the first time.
Not including those who are still unsure of how they will vote, 51 per cent are planning to vote in favour of independence and 49 per cent are planning to vote for a continued union. The speed at which independence is gaining popularity is accelerating, too; the result is a four-point increase from the poll published last week.
In The Sunday Times, Scotland's deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon described the results as “exceptionally positive and encouraging figures.”
"This breakthrough poll shows that Yes has the big momentum,” she said. "More and more people are beginning to realise that a Yes vote is Scotland's one opportunity to make that enormous wealth work better for everybody who lives here, create more jobs, and protect vital services such as the NHS from the damaging effects of Westminster privatisation."
Alistair Darling, who leads the pro-Union Better Together campaign, warned that an independent Scotland must now be recognised as a real possibility. He said the result “must now serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thought the referendum result was a foregone conclusion.
“If you want Scotland to remain part of the UK family you have to vote for it on 18 September. Separation is forever.”
UK economist Rob Wood believes that if Scotland does vote for independence, this will have significant economic and political repercussions: “Some financial firms may move headquarters and parts of their business south. More importantly, uncertainty about currency arrangements and the status of Scotland in the EU would spike immediately.
“Long-term, Scotland would be forced into austerity. For the rest of the UK, losing relatively pro-EU Scotland would raise the risk of Brexit from the EU as well as questions what it could mean for the outcome of the May 2015 general election.”