Saturday 19 August 2017

Nicola Sturgeon rules out 'rash decisions' on second Scottish independence referendum as SNP suffers big losses

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, as counting is under way for the General Election. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, as counting is under way for the General Election. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Katrine Bussey

Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson have been dramatically ousted from Westminster as the SNP lost 21 seats across Scotland - putting plans for a second vote on independence in jeopardy.

After making stunning gains in 2015, Nicola Sturgeon's party lost seats to the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats to see their numbers slashed to 35 MPs.

Stephen Gethins held on to his North East Fife seat by just two votes, as the SNP came under severe pressure from the Liberal Democrats, and nationalists saw their majorities massively reduced in several constituencies.

The Tories returned 13 MPs in their best result in Scotland since 1983.

Ruth Davidson, whose Scottish Conservatives ejected both Mr Salmond from Gordon and Mr Robertson from Moray, said her party had enjoyed an "historic night".

She told BBC Scotland: "Indyref2 is dead, that's what we have seen tonight."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon casts her vote in the General Election at a polling station at Broomhouse Community Hall in Glasgow. PA
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon casts her vote in the General Election at a polling station at Broomhouse Community Hall in Glasgow. PA

Ms Sturgeon admitted she was "disappointed" by the results, but said she would not make any "rash decisions" on her plan for another independence vote.

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The Tory success in Scotland is in stark contrast to the situation south of the border, with Theresa May losing her majority and the election resulting in a hung parliament.

The First Minister told BBC Scotland: ''This has been a disaster for Theresa May. She called an election clearly very arrogantly thinking she was going to crush the opposition, sweep everybody aside and cruise to a landslide majority.

''Her position I think is very, very difficult. We have to wait and see how things shake out. I've always said the SNP would want to be part of a progressive alternative to a Tory government.

''I'm disappointed at the SNP losses but I'm pleased that we've won the election.''

That was echoed by Mr Salmond, who said the SNP would now seek to "build a progressive alliance to take this country forward and to avoid the calamity of hard Brexit".

The former nationalist leader, who was first elected as an MP 30 years ago in 1987, was defeated by Tory Colin Clark, who said in his victory speech: "The silent majority have spoken. We're proud to be part of the United Kingdom."

Kezia Dugdale. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Kezia Dugdale. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Mr Salmond blamed a late surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour for the SNP's defeat in many seats, with the nationalists also losing John Nicolson, Mike Weir and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

Pete Wishart, who was the chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee in the last parliament, held on to his Perth and North Perthshire seat by just 21 votes, with Tory MEP Ian Duncan coming close to ousting him.

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Labour gained a number of seats back from the SNP, with the party making a return to winning ways in Scotland's largest city as they took Glasgow North East from Anne McLaughlin.

Ian Murray, who had been the only Labour MP in 2015, retained Edinburgh South with a massively increased majority as the party won a total of seven seats.

The Liberal Democrats took their tally of MPs in Scotland from one to four, with former UK government minister Jo Swinson one of the victors after winning back the East Dunbartonshire seat she had lost in 2015.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said she was "hugely encouraged" by the results.

"I think everybody had written us off and what we've got is six fantastic Labour MPs joining Ian Murray in the House of Commons, she said.

"I think it's very clear that any plan Nicola Sturgeon had for a second independence referendum has to disappear as a result of this election.

"What we've got is a crushing result for the SNP, they've lost 20 seats if not more and further than that they've watched their majorities crumble. There were so many SNP MPs who had 10,000 or larger majorities who now find they are sitting on perhaps a dozen or just under 100. That's a crushing result for the SNP.

"We've hit peak SNP and we've certainly hit peak Nicola Sturgeon."

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