Nicola Sturgeon has described the SNP’s victory in the Scottish Parliament election as ‘extraordinary’ and has vowed to fight for another Scottish independence referendum following the conclusion of the coronavirus emergency.
The SNP won 64 seats in the election, falling one short of the number needed for a majority but gaining one seat on the tally compared to its 2016 election result. Looking at the other parties, the Conservatives picked up 31 seats, Labour won 22 seats, the Greens won 8 and the Liberal Democrats won 4.
Following the election results, Ms Sturgeon has said she will focus on leading the country through the pandemic, but then promised to work on the country’s recovery – and deliver on a second independence referendum.
Calls for a second Scottish independence referendum have been growing in recent years in the wake of Brexit, and Sturgeon has claimed that the election results show that a referendum is now “the will of the country”.
In a tweet, leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross MP disagreed though, saying “Against the odds, the @ScotTories have stopped an SNP majority and indyref2”.
Of course, the election results themselves do not directly stop a referendum from taking place. An SNP majority may have made a stronger claim for a second vote on the issue, however, one seat less will still be enough for the SNP to feel it is right to push for a referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon has warned the UK Government that she sees no justification for a Scottish independence referendum being blocked. Organising one is likely though to be a challenge, with the Conservatives against one being held up until now.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited leaders of the devolved nations – including Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford who will both continue to be First Ministers following election successes – to a summit on how the UK can recover from the pandemic together.
The PM invited the leaders to discuss shared challenges and to look at how “Team UK” can work together in the months and years ahead to tackle them.
As well as encouraging working together, the summit will likely be designed to improve UK unity.
In Scotland, campaigning for an independence referendum to be held in current times is unlikely to be popular or happen to any great extent, with big issues around coronavirus remaining. However, the results of the Scottish Parliament Election will no doubt give the SNP new hope of achieving a referendum and independence in the years to come.