Theresa May has time to give Scotland a Brexit carve-out and avoid a second independence referendum, a senior Scottish National Party figure has said.

SNP Westminster group leader Angus Robertson called on the Prime Minister to offer a compromise to “protect Scotland’s place in Europe” in exit negotiations.

His comments suggest a commitment from Mrs May to try and keep Scotland in the European Union, or at least the single market, would be enough to avoid a second independence vote.

But an SNP source denied reports that Nicola Sturgeon would attempt to get an independent Scotland in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which includes Norway and Iceland and participates in the single market, rather than rejoin the EU as a full member.

It came as a YouGov poll for the Times suggested 57% of Scottish voters want to stay in the UK and 43% want independence, once “don’t knows” and those not prepared to vote were excluded.

Mr Robertson told the Guardian: “There may only be days, may only be weeks, but where all of our efforts are currently focused is trying to convince the UK Government to come to a compromise agreement protecting Scotland’s place in Europe.

“If that road runs out and if we have to have that referendum, we will be turning our attention to making sure that we are making the case publicly, intellectually and in every other way so people understand the choice of a hard Tory Brexit Britain or a Scotland able to maintain its relations with the rest of Europe.”

Mr Robertson went on: “If the UK Government genuinely believes in a United Kingdom [it must] take the needs, interests, concerns of the different parts of the UK seriously.

POLITICS Brexit Scotland

“The Tories are boxing themselves into a very dangerous corner.

“For a party that claims to be a unionist party they are making it very difficult for people in Scotland, who are not traditionally SNP voters, to look to the future of a Tory-run Britain and accepting that as our best way forward.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson hit back, telling the newspaper: “These are surreal comments.

“How can he say the SNP is focused on negotiations with the UK government when Nicola Sturgeon has just broken off those talks to unilaterally declare another divisive referendum on independence?” she asked.

“Everyone knows where the SNP has invested all its attention since the EU referendum – in trying to break up Britain.”