Half of Scots would back independence if a fresh referendum was held tomorrow, a poll for STV News has found.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI, shows a rise in support for independence as the Prime Minister prepares to trigger Britain's exit from the European Union later this month.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a fresh referendum, following the UK-wide decision to leave the EU last year, is "highly likely".

The SNP leader has also described a referendum in autumn 2018 as being in a "common sense" time period during the negotiations between London and Brussels.

Among those polled who said they know how they would vote and are very likely or certain to vote in an immediate referendum, 50% said they would vote Yes to independence while the other 50% said they would reject it.

Ipsos MORI last polled Scots on the subject six months ago, with support for independence rising by two percentage points during the period.

Mark Diffley, Ipsos MORI Scotland director, said: "There has been much recent speculation about if and when there will be a second referendum on Scottish independence.

"In the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum vote last June there was an increase in support for independence, which ebbed away later in the year.

"This poll suggests some modest movement back towards independence since we last measured opinion six months ago.

"It will certainly provide the SNP with a lift ahead of their spring conference in Aberdeen next week."

Almost half of Scots (48%) said an independent Scotland should be a full member of the EU, while a further 27% backed a Norway-style option of full single market access but not full membership.

Only 17% of respondents thought an independent Scottish state should reject both.

Support for independence is found largely among men, the young and those from deprived areas, according to the poll.

More than half of men (54%) would vote Yes in a new referendum but 56% of women would cast their vote to stay in the union.

Those who back the union were also found to be most set in their support.

When asked to choose on a scale of one to ten, with one being complete support for independence and ten being complete support for the union, 28% said they completely supported independence while 38% had total support for the union.

The First Minister's attempts to represent Scotland's interests in the debate were welcomed by those polled.

More than half of Scots (52%) feel Sturgeon is doing "a good job in representing Scotland's interests" in the Brexit process.

This compares with just 34% of Scots who feel Theresa May is doing a good job representing the UK's interests.

The Prime Minister's approval ratings fell further when respondents were asked how she was performing in representing Scotland's interests in the process.

Just 24% of Scots feel May is doing a good job representing Scotland's national interest in the Brexit process.

Ipsos MORI also asked Scots how they plan to vote in May's local government elections.

The SNP are set to pick up almost half of first preference votes (46%) giving the party a 27-percentage point lead over the second largest party, the Scottish Conservatives, on 19%.

Scottish Labour polled just 17% in third. At the last local government elections in 2012 Labour finished second with 31% of the national vote.

The pro-independence Scottish Greens (8%) also look set leapfrog the Lib Dems (6%) into fourth place in terms of first preference votes. Scotland's only pro-Brexit party, UKIP, polled 3%.

Ipsos MORI surveyed 1,029 Scots aged 16 or over by telephone between February 24 and March 6, 2017.