A leading bookmaker has put Scotland odds-on to leave the United Kingdom by 2025. Alex Salmond declared the firm's decision "more significant than any opinion poll".

William Hill is offering 8/11 on Scotland to vote for independence by the end of 2024 and even money that the nation remains part of the UK.

Salmond, a former first minister now seated at Westminster, said: "This is the first time I can remember independence being the odds-on favourite. It's more significant than any opinion poll. It doesn't make it a cert, but bookies tend not to throw their money away."

On 20 February William Hill was also offering odds of 1/3 that there will be a referendum by the end of 2024 and 10/11 that there will be a vote before the end of 2020.

A spokesman for the bookmaker told the Sun on Sunday: "We are pretty sure there will be another referendum by 2024. And we think that by then, it's likely Scotland will vote Yes."

Bookmakers have long been trusted more than pollsters in predicting the outcomes of democratic events. However, no bookmaker anticipated that the British people would vote to leave the EU on 23 June 2016.

One consequence of Britain's impending departure from the bloc is a resurgence in calls for a second Scottish independence referendum. Some 85% of Scots turned out to vote on their continued membership of the UK in September 2014 with a clear majority of 55% preferring the status quo.

Scottish independence referendum odds
Scottish independence referendum odds presented by William Hill at 1pm on 20 February 2017 Screengrab / William Hill

In the build-up to last year's Brexit vote, Remain campaigners warned that the UK's divorce from the EU would reignite calls for Scottish secession. It is perhaps the only negative forecast made by the Remain side that has unequivocally come to pass.

Business for Scotland founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: "We are getting ready for Indyref2 in May or September 2018 and so we are back in full campaign mode."

Commenting on William Hill's odds Professor John Curtice, a polling expert, said: "It's not an unreasonable bet, but I don't think the fact a bookie has made it odds-on favourite means it's going to happen.

"I can't tell you what the balance of public opinion will be by then – and it's sufficiently close that I don't think anyone can.

"We are living in uncertain times, and I don't think bookies' odds change that – other than making people think it might be worth putting money on."

First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond said William Hill's decision to make Scottish independence by 2025 odds-on was "more significant than any poll" Reuters