Results show Scotland and rest of UK on ‘divergent paths’ – Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland and the rest of the UK are now on “divergent paths” as the SNP leader celebrated an “exceptionally good night” for her party, while Boris Johnson headed back to Downing Street.
Ms Sturgeon had attacked the Conservative leader throughout the election campaign, branding him unfit to be prime minister.
With the Conservatives seemingly on track for a majority at Westminster, allowing Mr Johnson to push ahead with his Brexit plans, Ms Sturgeon said the UK-wide picture is “pretty grim”.
But in Scotland, the SNP has gained seats from both Labour and the Conservatives – including in East Lothian, where the former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill defeated Labour to be returned as the new MP for the area.
The SNP also ousted Tories Kirstene Hair in Angus and Paul Masterton in East Renfrewshire, as well as defeating Labour’s Danielle Rowley in Midlothian and Ged Killen in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.
Meanwhile Pete Wishart became the SNP’s longest serving MP after retaining his Perth and North Perthshire seat with a significantly increased majority.
Speaking as she arrived at the Glasgow count, Ms Sturgeon said: “This is an exceptionally good night for the SNP.
“UK-wide it’s a pretty grim result, but it shows the divergent paths Scotland and the rest of the UK is on.”
The SNP campaign had focused on the themes of stopping Brexit and preventing Mr Johnson from winning a majority – as well as making the case for a second Scottish independence referendum.
Prior to polling day Ms Sturgeon had been clear that she will write to the prime minister before Christmas to request the formal powers for the Scottish Parliament to hold such a ballot.
“My plan in that regard hasn’t changed,” she said in the early hours of Friday.
Ian Murray, who was left as the only Scottish Labour MP in 2015 and who is fighting to retain the Edinburgh South seat this time round, blamed leader Jeremy Corbyn for the party’s poor showing.
He tweeted: “Every door I knocked on, and my team and I spoke to 11,000 people, mentioned Corbyn. Not Brexit but Corbyn. I’ve been saying this for years. The outcome is that we’ve let the country down and we must change course and fast.”
The SNP did lose the North East Fife constituency – which Stephen Gethins had won by just two votes in 2017.
Liberal Democrat Wendy Chamberlain won the seat – which was previously held by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell – for her party.