U.K. Elections: Conservatives Make Gains; Pro-Independence Parties Win In Scotland

Brenda Watkins
May 9, 2021

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon reacts after being declared the victor of the Glasgow Southside seat at Glasgow counting centre in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on May 7, 2021, during counting for the Scottish parliament elections.

Speaking after winning her seat in Glasgow on Friday, Sturgeon said her immediate priority would be to deal with the pandemic and "then when the time is right to offer this country the choice of a better future".

Sturgeon gave a televised victory speech on Saturday as the total count for Thursday's vote gave the SNP 64 seats in 129-seat parliament at Holyrood, one seat less of an outright majority.

Results such as these mean that the parties supporting the independence of Scotland will still have a clear majority, as the secession is also supported by the Scottish Green Party.

However, Britain's exit from the European Union - opposed by a majority of Scots - as well as a perception that Sturgeon's government has handled the COVID-19 crisis well, along with antipathy to Johnson's Conservative government in London, have all bolstered support for the independence movement.

But the focus remained on Scotland, where a vote for the devolved parliament in Edinburgh saw the ruling SNP seek a parliamentary majority as a mandate for a fresh referendum on independence, or "indyref2", that could reshape the UK.

Michael Gove has dismissed a second referendum on Scottish independence as a "massive distraction" as he repeatedly refused to say whether the United Kingdom government will seek to block a possible vote in court. But with allies in the Green Party, Sturgeon said she would push for another referendum on independence once the pandemic has ended.

In Wales, the concluded vote count showed Labour doing better than expected as it extended its 22 years in control of the Welsh government despite also falling one seat short of a majority.

She has set out plans to hold a legal referendum after the virus crisis passes and by the end of 2023.

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Henry did note that British Columbia is expecting to receive its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week as well. Veena said she delayed taking the vaccine, but felt the need to take it given the grim situation now.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has insisted his new Alba Party has put in a "credible performance" in the Holyrood election - despite conceding they are likely to see no MSPs returned.

"I couldn't think of a more powerful argument for independence than that", she said.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which favours Scottish independence, looked likely to come out strongest in elections in the regional parliament on Saturday morning, making the prospect of a second referendum on breaking away more likely.

With speculation mounting that the British government would go to court to stop a referendum, senior minister Michael Gove was repeatedly asked during TV interviews on Sunday how London would handle the Scottish issue.

For the Labour Party and its leader, Keir Starmer, the Hartlepool result was a huge disappointment and has led to another bout of soul-searching in the party.

Under the 1998 Scotland Act - which created the Scottish parliament and devolved some powers from London to Edinburgh - all matters relating to the "Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England" are reserved to the UK parliament.

Boris Johnson has invited the leaders of the devolved nations "to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them", according to letters sent to the leaders and shared by No 10 Downing Street, reported Sky News.

Dogged by scandals in recent weeks, Johnson also campaigned on his record of finally having "got Brexit done".

He touted government economic support during the pandemic and the vaccine drive.

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