Election results 2021: Nicola Sturgeon will narrowly miss out on majority, poll projects

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Nicola Sturgeon's party are heading for a big win – but possibly not the majority she hoped for - REUTERS
Nicola Sturgeon's party are heading for a big win – but possibly not the majority she hoped for - REUTERS

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP will narrowly miss out on a majority in the Scottish Parliament, it has been projected, as rival parties held key seats.

The SNP failed to gain Aberdeenshire West from the Scottish Conservatives, which was seen as a key seat to Nicola Sturgeon's hopes of gaining outright control.

Conservative Alexander Burnett held on to the seat with 19,709 votes, increasing his majority there and defeating the SNP by more than 3,000 votes.

"The route to 65 is now clearly closed," said John Curtice, the UK's leading election expert. "That said, we are clearly looking at a Scottish Parliament with an enhanced pro-independence majority."

Ms Sturgeon's party only won four list seats in 2016, when the SNP narrowly missed out on a majority. These are allocated to parties using a complicated form of proportional representation, and will be announced on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Scottish Labour is predicted to return 22 MSPs - which would be the party's worst result ever in a Scottish Parliament election.

Follow the latest updates below.

03:54 PM

Labour's worst ever result north of the border looms in Scotland

Scottish Labour is predicted to return 22 MSPs, down two on 2016 and the party's worst result ever in a Scottish Parliament election, Daniel Sanderson writes.

However, allies of Anas Sarwar, the party leader, will argue that the result would have been far worse had he not taken over from Jeremy Corbyn ally Richard Leonard in February.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Emirates Arena - Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Emirates Arena - Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Scottish Tories are projected to win 31 seats, unchanged from 2016. That result would delight Douglas Ross, the party leader, who will feel his strategy on focusing almost exclusively on opposition to a new referendum has been vindicated.

The Liberal Democrats are projected to win four seats, down one on 2016.

03:49 PM

Nicola Sturgeon to fall two seats short of majority, BBC projects

The BBC has predicted that the SNP will win the Holyrood election - but that Nicola Sturgeon will fall two seats short of an overall majority, writes Daniel Sanderson.

The broadcaster made the projection after the Tories held the crucial seat of Aberdeenshire West. It predicts that the SNP will win 63 seats, the same number that were returned in 2016.

The Scottish Greens are set to win nine seats, the BBC projected, up three, meaning there will still be a pro-independence majority at Holyrood.

"The route to 65 is now clearly closed," John Curtice, Scotland's leading pollster, said. "That said, we are clearly looking at a Scottish Parliament with an enhanced pro-independence majority."

Nicola Sturgeon will claim that a pro-independence majority is still a mandate for a new referendum.

However, UK Government insiders believe that her failure to win a majority on her own - a feat Alex Salmond achieved in 2011 - will make it easier to sell their message of refusing permission for a new vote to the public.

03:38 PM

Labour take West of England Mayoralty from Conservatives

Dan Norris has been elected Mayor of the West of England, taking the seat from the Conservatives.

Mr Norris was elected with 59.1 per cent of first and second preference votes, managing to upset the odds after polls forecast that Tory candidate Samuel Williams - who received 40.9 per cent - would be elected.

"I'm very proud of our region - it's a great region but it could be even better still," he said. "This endorsement means an awful lot to me."

Mr Norris praised Sir Keir Starmer for having "unlocked" the election for Labour because of his "skills and intelligence".

Tim Bowles, the Conservative incumbent and a former district councillor, did not stand for re-election.

03:27 PM

Conservatives hold Aberdeenshire West

Back in Scotland the Conservatives dealt a blow to Nicola Sturgeon's hopes of a majority by holding Aberdeenshire West, where Alexander Burnett has been re-elected.

The Conservatives won 19,709 votes - increasing their share by nine per cent and fending off the SNP, which won 16,319 votes.

As in 2016, the Liberal Democrats (3,363 votes) beat Labour into fourth place (2,382), albeit with a reduced number of votes.

03:24 PM

Andy Burnham: 'People are buying into English devolution'

A visibly emotional Andy Burnham thanked his family, campaign staff and fellow Labour activists as he was re-elected Greater Manchester Mayor with 69.7 per cent of the vote.

“My main thanks go to the wonderful, wonderful people of Greater Manchester,” he said. “I value every single vote you have given me. I know that people who normally support other parties have voted for me. I will always remember that and respect it.”

“I will continue to be a voice for all people and all communities. I will continue to adopt a place-first, not party-first approach. Where the Government gets it right and treats us fairly I will work with them, but where they don’t I will challenge them - for you - as forcefully as I can. Greater Manchester expects nothing less.”

Andy Burnham has been re-elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester with a resounding majority - Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Andy Burnham has been re-elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester with a resounding majority - Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Mr Burnham said the vote sent a “clear message to all Westminster parties” that “people are buying into English devolution”.

“They are telling you to deliver more of it, not less. They like us having the ability to do more for ourselves. They can see how it’s making politics work better for them.

Levelling up cannot be achieved by “scattering funds across a few favoured places”, but through affordable public transport, investment in jobs and affordable housing, Mr Burnham said.

“We will hit the ground running next week, starting on Monday with transport. This is a resounding mandate to bring our buses back under public control.”

03:15 PM

Breaking: Manchester re-elects Andy Burnham

Labour's Andy Burnham has been re-elected as Mayor of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

03:06 PM

'It’s time for Boris to decide what he wants to achieve'

As an inflatable Boris Johnson bounced around outside the count in Hartlepool, where was Keir Starmer? asks Camilla Tominey.

Back in London, which arguably tells you everything you need to know about his continued failure to reconnect with a Red Wall that is now bluer than an episode of The Smurfs. But as he once again basks in post-election glory, the Prime Minister must seize the moment to move his premiership into its next, and most important, phase.

For ultimately, Johnson is not going to be judged on all that has gone before – but on what happens in the final act of his administration as it enters the post-Covid era and attention switches to him winning a second term in office.

02:46 PM

Galloway and West Dumfries held by Tories in blow to SNP's hopes for majority

The Conservatives have held onto their Galloway and West Dumfries seat in the South of Scotland with a 2,635 majority over the SNP.

This constituency seat makes up what is known as South Scotland's 'Blue Wall' of Tory seats.

The three constituencies in the Scottish border, which have all been held by the Tories in this election, are Galloway and West Dumfries, Dumbfriesshire and Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

The SNP were hoping to win at least one of these 'Blue Wall' seats in order to hit the majority target of 65 seats.

In other news, the crucial Tory-held Aberdeenshire West is not expected to be declared until 6pm this evening.

The SNP will have to turn over Alexander Burnett's majority of 900 votes in this constituency in order to have a fighting chance of getting over the majority line in Holyrood.

02:37 PM

Highest voter turnout on record in Holyrood election

Almost 64 per cent of the electorate voted, which makes this Holyrood election's turnout the highest on record.

The high turnout is likely because a lot is at stake with Nicola Sturgeon's bid to hold Scotland's second independence referendum, as well as the fact that the Conservative party and SNP both succeeded in getting high numbers of voters to the polls.

02:22 PM

Key mayoral race in the West Midlands has gone to second round of votes

Andy Street, the Conservative candidate, looks likely to win in the West Midlands as voting goes on to the second round.

In a Mayoral election, the winning candidate needs to get more than 50 per cent and Mr Street was just shy of that, having received 48.7 per cent.

Labour's Andy Byrne is behind Mr Street with 39.7 per cent of the vote.

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02:11 PM

Pictured: SNP celebrations at Scottish Parliament vote counts

First Minister and SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow - Jane Barlow/PA
First Minister and SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow - Jane Barlow/PA
Kate Forbes celebrates being elected as MSP for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Constituency - Paul Campbell/Getty Images Europe
Kate Forbes celebrates being elected as MSP for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Constituency - Paul Campbell/Getty Images Europe
SNP candidate for Aberdeenshire East, Gillian Martin celebrates after her acceptance speech - Andrew Milligan/PA
SNP candidate for Aberdeenshire East, Gillian Martin celebrates after her acceptance speech - Andrew Milligan/PA

01:50 PM

SNP inching closer to victory in Scotland, winning 50 seats so far

After 59 of 129 results have been announced in the Scottish Parliamentary contest, 49 seats have gone to the SNP, four to Liberal Democrats, three to the Tories and two to Labour.

Nicola Sturgeon needs to get to the magic number of 65 seats in Holyrood to win a majority.

01:26 PM

Scottish Parliament result is 'on a knife edge', says Tory leader

Asked by Sky News if the SNP was on course for a majority, Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, said: "It's on a knife edge and that's where we still are. There are crucial seats still to declare and the picture will be clear by the end of today.

"But absolutely it is extremely close."

Pressed if Ms Sturgeon had a mandate for a second independence referendum, he pointed out she had told viewers during a BBC TV debate earlier this week that people who opposed a vote should still back the SNP.

He said that "from people who have contacted me, they can't believe before the counting is even finished" that the SNP is pushing for another separation vote.

douglas ross - Peter Summers/Getty Images
douglas ross - Peter Summers/Getty Images

01:23 PM

Mark Drakeford remains in place as Welsh First Minister

All results in the race for the Senedd in Wales have been declared, with Mark Labour's Drakeford remaining in place as First Minister.

In stark contrast to the party's performance in England in the Super Thursday elections, Labour equalled its best-ever Senedd result by winning 30 seats - just one short of a majority.

Mr Drakeford has vowed to be "radical" and "ambitious" in government as his party continues in power in Wales.

01:22 PM

SNP hold their most marginal seat

The SNP have held on to Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, their most marginal seat.

They increased their vote share by three points and had a majority of 1,948 over the Conservatives.

01:05 PM

Key mayoral race in the West Midlands - first preference tally shows Labour lead in Birmingham

The West Midlands Mayoral election first preference tally for Birmingham - one of seven councils areas in the region - showed Labour's Liam Byrne leading Tory Andy Street by 102,276 votes to 84,817.

The Green Party's Steve Caudwell (12,435) was marginally ahead of Liberal Democrat Jenny Wilkinson (9,294). The fifth mayoral candidate, Reform UK's Pete Durnell, garnered 3,496 first preference votes in the Birmingham City Council area.

12:38 PM

Mark Drakeford vows to be 'radical and ambitious' in Government

Mark Drakeford has vowed to be "radical" and "ambitious" in government as his party looks set to remain in power in Wales.

Labour has equalled its best ever Senedd election result by winning 30 seats - just one short of a majority - though it is not expected to take any of the remaining four regional seats left to be declared on Saturday.

If it does not pick up any of the remaining seats, Mr Drakeford can choose to form a minority government or invite members of other parties into a Labour-led administration, giving the party greater control of the Senedd.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford smiles after winning the Cardiff West constituency - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford smiles after winning the Cardiff West constituency - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe

Welsh Labour put Friday's "extraordinary set of results" down to Mr Drakeford's leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the First Minister's cautious and careful approach go down well with voters.

Asked if he planned to continue his cautious brand of politics during a new administration, Mr Drakeford said: "Well, absolutely as far as coronavirus is concerned. The pandemic has not gone away.

"A government I lead will continue to follow the science to do what our medical advisers tells us we should do, and that does mean doing things in a way that continues to keep Wales safe.

"But on other matters, our manifesto is a radical manifesto with a host of ideas that are ambitious for Wales."

12:32 PM

Steve Rotheram re-elected as metro mayor of Liverpool City Region

Labour's Steve Rotheram secured 58.3% of the vote, with Conservative candidate Jade Marsden comfortably behind at 19.6%.

Mr Rotheram thanked his supporters on Twitter.

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12:19 PM

Steve Aiken resigns as Ulster Unionist Party leader

Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken has announced his intention to resign from the position, but he will remain in post until a successor is chosen.

The announcement from the South Antrim MLA comes amid growing internal UUP concern at his leadership.

In a letter to party chairman Danny Kennedy, Mr Aiken said he believed he had taken the party as far as he could.

"To achieve our goals, we now need new leadership," he wrote. Mr Aiken said he will remain in politics and continue as a South Antrim MLA.

He wrote: "May I say what a privilege it has been to lead our party in these difficult and trying times; while leadership of a political party has many highs and lows, it has been my work with our elected representatives, in particular our MLA team, that has given me the greatest confidence for the future of our great party."

12:07 PM

SNP insists it has IndyRef2 mandate even with no majority thanks to Greens

Scotland's Deputy First Minister has insisted that the SNP has a mandate to hold Scotland's second independence referendum, known as IndyRef2, even without a majority in the Scottish Parliament.

John Swinney said that even if the SNP do not secure the 65-seat majority, their manifesto pledge will depend on "an overall majority of members elected committed to the hosting of an independence referendum", of which the pro-independence Greens will make up the difference.

Mr Swinney told the BBC that he is "very confident" a majority of pro-independence MSPs will be elected, and that judging by Friday's results, the SNP "is going to be the largest party in the Scottish Parliament by a very significant margin".

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: "The Greens will continue to provide a pro-independence majority and I think that looks likely to be the case."

11:47 AM

Labour set to win Senedd election after surprise result

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said his party had "exceeded expectations" and ended Friday with 30 seats, just one short of a majority and with exactly half of the 60 seats in the Welsh Parliament.

Mr Drakeford, who extended his majority for his Cardiff West seat by more than 10,000 votes, said he was delighted.

"Did I think we would be up approaching the top of the twenties? That was probably at the top end of what I thought was achievable, given the extraordinary circumstances of this election," he added.

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11:24 AM

Alan Cochrane: The 'Boris Johnson factor' underpinned the SNP's electoral successes

Whatever way you cut it, you don’t have far to look to for the reasons for the astonishing first day results in the Scottish Parliament election. Although things can still change on Saturday, with the remainder of the first-past-the-post constituencies still to declare, it is the so-called ‘Boris Johnson factor’ that Conservative strategists say contributed to what appears to be a series of significant SNP successes in winnable seats.

Saturday will also sees the declaration of the 56 regional list seats, the votes for which appeared on a separate ballot paper and which are allocated to the parties on a proportional basis. It was on these seats that, led by Scottish leader Douglas Ross, the Conservatives concentrated most of their efforts.

But decent Tory vote increases in various parts of Scotland were nullified by what party campaign managers admitted was an 11th hour change of tactic by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She switched from banging the drum over a new independence referendum to asking voters to decide who they wanted to make decisions about Scotland’s future: her or the Prime Minister.

Read Alan's comment piece in full here.

11:11 AM

Counting begins in Greater Manchester Mayoral elections

Counting has begun of the 714,745 votes cast in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Mayoral elections, with incumbent Andy Burnham widely expected to win the poll.

Burnham won 63.4% of the votes cast in 2017 and turnout is up around 5% on the last election, to 34.74%.

The outcome of the first round of voting is expected around 3pm, although with Burnham running for a second term and nine candidates in all, the election could go to a second round, with second preference votes also then counted to decide the winner.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham - Danny Lawson/PA
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham - Danny Lawson/PA

10:44 AM

Scottish Green Party votes up across the country, co-leader claims

Votes for the Scottish Green Party are up across the country but the margins for seat gains on the regional lists are very slim, co-leader Patrick Harvie has said.

Mr Harvie is standing in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency, although the Greens expect to make their gains in the regional list vote.

He said: "(The regional list vote) seems to be up in most places, some places very strongly...It looks like there's three or four seats which are in contention for us but potentially close. We've still got a way to go yet."

He added: "The difference between a result which looks outstanding for us and one that's a bit more conservative is actually very small."

Co-leader of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie arrives at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections - Jane Barlow/PA
Co-leader of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie arrives at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections - Jane Barlow/PA

Following the result in Dumbarton, where Labour saw off an SNP challenge, he said: "I've always said that Parliament's at it's best when there's a balance and ministers are at their best when they're kept on their toes, whichever political party they're from.

"The Greens will continue to provide a pro-independence majority and I think that looks likely to be the case.

"We've worked hard over the last five years to push the SNP beyond their comfort zone and we'll keep on doing that."

10:35 AM

Johnson on course for Scottish independence clash with Sturgeon

Boris Johnson has set himself on course for a constitutional clash with Nicola Sturgeon if she pushes ahead with plans for a second Scottish independence referendum.

Counting continues in the Scottish parliamentary contest, with the SNP leader's hopes of achieving a majority on a knife edge.

It is almost certain the SNP will win its fourth term in power at Holyrood, and Ms Sturgeon said "when the time is right" she will offer Scots "the choice of a better future" in a second independence referendum. But Mr Johnson told The Telegraph that he would not support an "irresponsible" referendum.

Counting has also begun in London, where the battle for mayor between Sadiq Khan and Shaun Bailey could be closer than expected.

10:22 AM

First Saturday result declared for Scottish Parliament

In the first result to declared in the Scottish Parliament election on Saturday the SNP held Aberdeenshire East.

Gillian Martin retained her seat with 18,307 votes, with Conservative candidate Stewart Whyte taking second place with 16,418 votes.

The Liberal Democrats won 3,396 votes and Labour 2,900.

Turnout was 64.25 per cent.

09:41 AM

Scottish independence referendum clash

Asked whether the Government would fight any bid for a second Scottish referendum in the courts, Cabinet minister George Eustice said: "Look, I'm not a lawyer - lawyers will look at these things and I think it is getting ahead of ourselves.

"We'll have to see how the results pan out later today. There is a question at the moment over whether the SNP will get a majority or not - we'll have to wait and see until the results come through.

"The UK Government's position is very clear on this. We don't think there is a case for another referendum, particularly now as we try and chart a way out of the pandemic and get our economy going again.

"But we will obviously deal with whatever we have to deal with once these elections are settled and once the new Scottish administration decides what it wants to do."

His comments come as Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that the SNP would push forward with an independence referendum despite the Prime Minister's rejection of the idea.

09:09 AM

Disappointing results for Labour in English council seats

Labour lost councillors in all parts of England in a set of disappointing results on Friday.

With results available from 84 out of 143 English councils, the Conservatives had a net gain of seven authorities and 173 seats, and Labour a net loss of four authorities and 164 seats.

Labour had tried to manage expectations over the vote, saying that Thursday's elections would always be difficult at a time of the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted support for the government because of its rapid vaccine rollout.

Starmer, who was elected leader last year, has tried to shift Labour towards the centre ground after two defeats under Jeremy Corbyn's leftist leadership, but has struggled to bridge the divides and unite Labour around a clear agenda.

08:54 AM

Indyref2 is 'irresponsible', says George Eustice

George Eustice went further with his arguments against granting the SNP a second independence referendum in Scotland, calling the idea "irresponsible".

The Environment Secretary told Times Radio: "We think this is a complete distraction.

"It would be irresponsible to have another divisive referendum and another bout of constitutional debate at a time when we are charting our way out of this pandemic and when we've got to really focus on economic recovery.

"We think it's completely the wrong thing to be doing. We had a referendum just a little over five years ago and that settled the issue."

The first Scottish independence referendum was held in September 2014, with 55.3 per cent of Scottish people voting to remain in the UK and 44.7 per cent voting for Scotland to be independent.

08:41 AM

The Scottish election count has started again - live updates here

Counting has started again in the Scottish Parliament election.

With 48 constituency results declared on Friday, the SNP had 39 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two.

Some constituencies are still to be counted on Saturday, when the crucial regional list results will also be declared.

Follow our blog for live text updates as the results are announced.

08:30 AM

'Wrong time' to hold indyref2, says Cabinet minister

George Eustice said it was the "wrong time" to hold a second independence referendum in Scotland, with chances of an SNP majority in Holyrood on a knife edge.

The Environment Secretary told BBC Breakfast: "There was a referendum that took place just a little over five years ago - that was described as a 'once in a generation' opportunity to debate these issues and they did.

"And I think now, as we try and come out of the pandemic and get economic recovery going, it is the wrong time to have yet another divisive referendum and yet another bout of constitutional argument on a matter such as this."

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney told BBC Breakfast that the second referendum on independence was "central" to the SNP's manifesto and that they will aim to hold it "when we have got the Covid situation under control".

08:18 AM

Vaccine programme success helped Conservatives gain in local elections, says Cabinet minister

Environment Secretary George Eustice said Brexit and the success of the vaccine rollout had helped the Conservatives to win votes off Labour at the Super Thursday elections.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today: "When it comes to the really big breakthrough in the Hartlepool by-election and the election of Ben Houchen as well (as Tees Valley Mayor), I think really it is a case of parts of this country feel they have elected Labour for a very long time, they feel taken for granted.

"I think the Brexit decision and the wrangling over that in recent years has focused minds in that they have questioned whether the Labour Party was really in touch with their priorities.

"And of course the rollout of the vaccine has been successful and I think people feel positive and that they can see a way out of this terrible pandemic we have been enduring."

Put to him that "crises favour incumbents", Mr Eustice replied: "I'm not sure that is the way I would view it."

08:13 AM

Watch: Mark Drakeford re-elected, says Welsh results are 'fantastic on a personal level'

Welsh Labour looks set to win the Senedd election after the party fought off challenges from the Tories to key red wall seats in North Wales, defying polls and predictions.

Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford said his party had "exceeded expectations" and ended Friday with 30 seats, just one short of a majority.

The results of eight remaining regional seats, for South Wales Central and South Wales East, will be announced on Saturday, though Labour is not expected to pick up any more from that number.

08:06 AM

Labour bids to reconnect with voters after disappointing election performance

Nick Thomas-Symonds said there would be a policy review in a bid to reconnect with voters following Labour's Super Thursday election performance.

The shadow home secretary told BBC Breakfast that in places like Hartlepool and its traditional heartlands elsewhere, people "do not now see Labour as answering" their concerns.

He added: "That's now what we have to reflect on and why we have to change. Keir (Starmer) has started that process of change over the past 12 months, he's led very courageously on things like tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party - now it is a question of moving on, having that review of our policies, economically setting out the difference that we will not go back to the insecure economy of the past and reimagine our economy."

The shadow cabinet member defended Labour's criticisms of so-called "sleaze" in Government and said the party "absolutely have to hold the Conservatives to account" when it came to alleged "cronyism" when handing out contracts and the Prime Minister's spending on his Downing Street flat renovations.

07:48 AM

UK Parliament is the 'only body that can grant a referendum', says Cabinet minister

As the SNP heads for a fourth consecutive term in power in Scotland, the Environment Secretary George Eustice said that the UK Parliament is the "only body that can grant a referendum" on Scottish independence.

He told Sky News that it was not time for "constitutional tinkering" with another "divisive" independence referendum.

He added: "As we try to come out of this pandemic and as we focus on the economic recovery as we come out of it, it really isn't the time to do constitutional tinkering and have another divisive referendum.

"I just don't think that is what people want and the government is very clear we have had a referendum and now is not the time for another one."

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07:42 AM

The seats that SNP lost out on in Friday's Scottish election results

Dumbarton

Labour's Jackie Baillie held on to her Dumbarton constituency - which had been the most marginal seat in all of Scotland and a top target for the SNP.

Ms Baillie had a majority of just 109 from the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, but increased that 1,483.

Dumfriesshire

Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell held on to his seat in Dumfriesshire with a 4,066 majority over the SNP's candidate.

Eastwood

The Tories also managed to hold on to Eastwood, with former leader Jackson Carlaw re-elected there with a 2,216 majority, despite coming under pressure from the SNP, who hold the corresponding seat at Westminster.

07:27 AM

John Swinney: 'Boris Johnson should support us' in second independence referendum

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney told BBC Breakfast that the SNP is set on holding an independence referendum "once we have got the Covid situation under control", despite Boris Johnson having told The Telegraph that "a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless."

Mr Swinney said: "The democratic will of the people of Scotland needs to be acted upon and Boris Johnson should support us in that process."

Asked whether the SNP will continue arguing they have a mandate for a second independence referendum if they win more than 65 seats (a majority), he said it will come down to the make-up of the Scottish Parliament and whether there is a majority of candidates who have been elected on a programme to deliver a referendum on independence.

Nicola Sturgeon - Russell Cheyne/PA
Nicola Sturgeon - Russell Cheyne/PA

07:10 AM

Pandemic 'restricted the opportunities' for Sir Keir Starmer, says shadow home secretary

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the pandemic had "restricted the opportunities" for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to "set out his vision" for the country.

The first wave of results from the May 6 elections painted a bleak picture for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, following a historic Conservative win in the Hartlepool by-election and gains in councils throughout England.

He told Times Radio: "Keir has been in a situation over the past year where, in the national interest by the way, he has been providing that constructive opposition to the pandemic. And that was absolutely right.

"At a point of national crisis, yes of course you criticise the Government when it was appropriate to do so but it was also appropriate to do things like support the Government on the furlough scheme or supporting the Government on its public health messaging and not, for party political reasons, trying to create confusion around that.

"What that has also meant is that it's restricted the opportunities for Keir to set out his vision."

Mr Thomas-Symonds said he disagreed with former Labour frontbencher Khalid Mahmood MP's comments about the party being "captured" by the "London-based bourgeoisie", pointing to election successes in Wales.

06:57 AM

John Swinney hails 'tremendous success' of SNP in Friday's results

Scotland's Deputy First Minister has hailed the "tremendous success" of the SNP in the Scottish election results that were announced on Friday.

The SNP picked up three key seats from the opposition parties - Edinburgh Central, Ayr and East Lothian - and ended the day with 38 seats in total out of the 47 declared.

John Swinney told BBC Breakfast that it was "an astonishing achievement for us given that we are about to embark on a fourth consecutive term in government after 14 years and three terms of leading the people of Scotland."

He said: "It’s very clear that the SNP is going to be the largest party in the Scottish Parliament by a very significant margin", but added that whether they will achieve an overall majority is not yet certain.

Mr Swinney said that the SNP gain of three seats indicated the "emphatic support" of the Scottish people for a second independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon's deputy held his Perthshire North seat on Friday. He polled a total of 19,860 votes, extending his majority over the Conservatives in the constituency.

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06:31 AM

SNP majority still uncertain, despite the party making gains

Nicola Sturgeon's hopes of winning an overall majority for the SNP at Holyrood election are hanging in the balance - despite her party making gains from its rivals.

The SNP picked up key seats in Edinburgh Central - where former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson replaced the one time Scottish Tory boss Ruth Davidson - as well as as in Ayr and East Lothian.

But under Holyrood's proportional representation system, those successes could see it lose seats on the regional list ballot.

With some constituencies still to be counted on Saturday, when the crucial regional list results will also be declared, Ms Sturgeon said it was "not impossible".

With 47 constituency results declared on Friday, the SNP had 38 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two.

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party  - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP
Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP

06:22 AM

Elections 2021: Find your results with a postcode

The first wave of results from the May 6 elections have painted a bleak picture for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, following a historic Conservative win in the Hartlepool by-election and gains on councils throughout England.

Millions of Britons on Thursday voted in a bumper crop of elections – the UK's first major democratic exercise since the country was hit by coronavirus last year.

So-called Super Thursday saw people cast their ballots in a wide variety of races - some delayed due to the pandemic - that include 143 English councils, the Scottish and Welsh devolved parliaments and the London mayoral contest.

05:52 AM

Front Page

Here is your Daily Telegraph for Saturday, May 8.

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daily tel

05:46 AM

Boris Johnson exclusive interview: No new Scottish independence referendum

Boris Johnson has made clear he would reject calls for a second Scottish independence referendum if Nicola Sturgeon secured an SNP majority at Holyrood.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Prime Minister said: “I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless.”

The comments set up a political battle over the future of the UK that will loom large for the rest of the year.

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader, who is set to be returned as Scottish First Minister in the Holyrood elections, said on Friday that she was prepared to push for a second referendum “when the time is right”.

PM Boris Johnson in Hartlepool with inflatable model of himself - JULIAN SIMMONDS
PM Boris Johnson in Hartlepool with inflatable model of himself - JULIAN SIMMONDS

Read more from our political editor Ben Riley-Smith.

02:45 AM

Comment: Labour 'punished for lawyer's tricks'

Telegraph columnist Charles Moore says Labour's thrashing in Hartlepool is partly down the the contempt that the party showed its voters over Brexit.

“It was perfectly respectable for Labour to oppose Brexit at the referendum, but it was reprehensible to try to stop it afterwards by using lawyers’ tricks against the largest vote for anything in British history. A constituency which voted nearly 70 per cent for Brexit has taken its by-election chance to say to Labour and its ultra-Remainer candidate: 'How many times do we have to tell you?'”

Read more: Charles Moore: For the first time, I suspect that reports of Labour's death are not exaggerated

02:40 AM

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