Nicola Sturgeon: Winning a majority is a 'long shot'
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As results continue to trickle in, the future of Holyrood remains on a knife-edge as we wait to see if the Scottish National Party wins back its majority. Nicola Sturgeon’s party has taken three key seats, but hopes of securing an overall majority still remain tight, with some forecasters saying the SNP might be forced to create a minority government once more.
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Sturgeon said the SNP “appears to be on course for a fourth consecutive election victory and to be on course to have the privilege of forming a government again”.
She pledged to “get back to work immediately” and lead the country’s Covid recovery.
She added: “And then, when the time is right, to offer this country the choice of a better future,” referring to the party’s pledge to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
However, this comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Telegraph in Friday that he would reject calls for ‘indyref2’ as it would be “irresponsible and reckless”.
Asked if a strong SNP majority could indicate the desire for another vote, he said: “I think that count is still taking place and we’ll have to see what happens.
“I listened to the Scottish election carefully. My impression was that they [the SNP] moved away from the idea of a referendum, and I think very wisely.
“I don’t think this is anything like the time to have more constitutional wrangling, to be talking about ripping our country apart, when actually people want to heal our economy and bounce forward together. That’s what people want.”
However, it is unlikely the SNP will abandon its calls for a second referendum, and with a pro-independence majority in Holyrood, it will be hard for the Prime Minister to ignore.
Speaking on BBC News, Scottish political editor David Wallace Lockhart said: “We’re not expecting the SNP – while it looks like it will form the next Scottish government – to immediately start asking for an independence referendum.
“Nicola Sturgeon has been clear that she wants to deal with the pandemic in Scotland first and when she thinks the time is right, she will ask for that.”
However, he added that, whether the SNP wins an overall majority or not, “the Greens will get enough seats we suspect, so that it will be a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.”
“Now, regardless of SNP majority or not, the Greens will get enough seats we suspect, so that it will be a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.”
Mr Lockhart noted that, when the calls for an imminent referendum do finally come around, another flat out ‘no’ from the Prime Minister could see the battle end up in court.
He said: “When that question is put to the UK Government – which could be years down the line – but when that request is put for that Section 30 order which would allow Scotland to hold an independence referendum, if the answer from Boris Johnson and that point is still, ‘now is not the time’, I think we can expect to see that potentially go to the courts and a legal argument to play out about who exactly has the power to hold an independence referendum in Scotland.
“Where does that power lie – is it Holyrood, is it Westminster?”
Deputy first minister John Sweeney has confirmed his party would indeed legislate for a second referendum if Mr Johnson were to block one.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve said we will take forward legislation to have a legal referendum – we already have put in place some of the legislative arrangements for that process.
“We will embark on such an agenda should there be a majority for such a proposition in the Scottish Parliament.”
Mr Swinney said that although he was waiting to see the “electoral arithmetic” of the final results, he was “very confident” there would be a majority of candidates “elected on a programme to deliver a referendum on independence”.
The constituencies that declared on Friday included eight of the SNP’s top 10 target seats.
The Conservatives held Dumfriesshire, which had been one of the SNP’s goals, with Oliver Mundell increasing his majority, while Jackson Carlaw held the marginal Eastwood seat for the Tories from the SNP.
And Labour’s Daniel Johnson held off the SNP challenge in Edinburgh Southern and the party’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie increased her majority over the SNP in Dumbarton.
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