Tuesday 22 August 2017

What do the general election results mean for a second Scottish referendum?

The SNP remains the largest Scottish party with 35 seats but conceded constituencies to the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

By Zaina Alibhai

A dramatic night in politics delivered a devastating blow to the Scottish National Party, threatening its plans to offer Scotland a second independence referendum.

The SNP lost 21 seats in Wesminster which saw a handful of senior nationalists ousted from its seats as the Scottish Conservatives celebrated their best result in a General Election for over three decades.

How did the evening unfold for the SNP?

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The SNP suffered losses to the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, winning just under 37% of votes and 35 MPs in the House of Commons. In comparison, the party secured 50% of the vote and secured 56 MPs in the 2015 general election.

Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson were among the high-profile nationalists ousted from Westminster.

Salmond lost his Gordon seat to the Tory Colin Clark, while SNP deputy leader Robertson lost Moray to Tory Douglas Ross – who overturned a majority of more than 9,000.

Other prominent nationalists who lost their seats were Mike Weir, who had represented Angus in the House of Commons since 2001, and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, who lost the Ochil and South Perthshire seat to the Tories.

The Tories saw their tally of MPs rise from just one to 13, while Labour and Lib Dems saw their numbers rise to seven and four respectively.

What had Nicola Sturgeon pledged?

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Sturgeon had said she would give Scots a “real choice” between Brexit and leaving the UK in a second independence referendum. Her proposal was backed by many high-profile nationalists including Salmond and Roberston, who were both ousted from their seats.

The vote could’ve taken place as early as autumn 2018 – just four years on from when Scots first voted by 55% to 45% to stay part of the UK.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Scots opted to stay in the European Union, but the UK as a whole voted for Brexit by a slim majority.

What is she saying now?

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The First Minster said her push for a second referendum “undoubtedly” played a part shocking results for the SNP, which saw the party lose more than a third of its seats.

Sturgeon said she would now “reflect carefully” on the result as she stressed the need for politicians to “try to bring people together to bridge divides and to find a way forward that is routed in consensus”.

She also insisted her party had won the election in Scotland – returning more MPs than its rivals combined. It still remains the biggest party in Scotland, with 35 seats.

She said: “I’m disappointed at the SNP losses but I’m pleased that we’ve won the election.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said plans for a second independence referendum are now “dead”, while Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the issue must now “disappear”.

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