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A woman wears a kilt with the Scottish flag on it in Glasgow on Aug. 16. / AFP/Getty Images

LONDON - A new poll suggests that support for Scotland's independence movement has gained substantial ground with just over two weeks to go before a historic referendum that will determine the future composition of the United Kingdom.

The poll conducted for the Sun and the (London) Times newspapers revealed that pro-independence support - the Yes campaign - has now reached 47%. The findings amount to an eight-point surge since the start of August and follow the final TV debate last week between Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond and "No" camp boss Alistair Darling. Salmond was widely seen to have dominated that exchange, although Darling came out on top in the first debate.

The survey was undertaken by YouGov, a market-research firm. An earlier poll held by the same group in mid-August showed 43% of the Scottish electorate were prepared to vote to breakaway from over 300 years of union with England. Undecided voters were excluded from the poll. The vote takes place on Sept. 18.

Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of Yes Scotland, said: "This breakthrough poll shows that Yes has the big momentum - it's an all-time high for Yes support in a YouGov survey so far, and an 8-point swing from No to Yes in just three weeks. We only need another 3-point swing to achieve a Yes for Scotland."

Blair McDougall, of the Better Together campaign, said: ''We need the silent majority who back a No vote to do their bit. Whether it's voting on the day, knocking on doors, making phone calls or speaking to friends and family, the silent majority should feel confident in speaking up. We will not be complacent for one second."

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is from Scotland, said in a speech late Monday that an independent Scotland risked becoming an "international outcast." He made the comments in the context of talking about sovereign debt.

Kim Hjelmgaard is USA TODAY's London-based Deputy World Editor. Follow him on Twitter@khjelmgaard



Copyright 2014USAToday

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