politics

Elections 2021: Johnson set for independence referendum clash with Sturgeon as counting continues in Scotland – live


Good morning. Many of the votes cast on “Super Thursday” are still being counted and today there will be particular focus on Scotland, where the SNP will win – but with its chances of having an absolute majority now looking slim. This is what Prof Sir John Curtice, the leading psephologist, told the Today programme this morning about the state of the contest in Scotland.


There is still a chance but in truth it’s a remote chance. It rests on whether or not the SNP can pick up Galloway and Aberdeenshire West, these two Conservative-held marginal seats, but those do look more like a long shot.

And it also depends on whether or not they can pick up a couple of list seats, one in the Highlands and one in the south of Scotland. But they would need to get at least three of those four seats in their lap and the truth is, on the evidence of what we’ve seen so far, they will be lucky to make it.

So we’re probably not looking at an SNP overall majority.

But there will be a majority of pro-independence MSPs, ie the SNP and the Greens in combination.

Unionists argue that, without an absolute majority, Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister, would find it harder to claim that she has a mandate to call a second independence referendum. But nationalists argue that what counts is having a majority of MSPs in favour of independence and, as Curtice says, this outcome is certain.

Last night Sturgeon said that, with a majority of MSPs backing independence, it would be “absurd” to argue that Scotland should not have a referendum. She said:


If this was in almost any other democracy in the world it would be an absurd discussion.

If people in Scotland vote for a pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament, no politician has got the right to stand in the way of that.

But Johnson has restated his opposition to allowing one. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said:


My impression was that they [the SNP] moved away from the idea of a referendum, and I think very wisely.

Because 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 Johnson has not categorically ruled out ever allowing a second referendum, and when the Telegraph asked him if it was true that privately he has said he would never sanction one, Johnson just replied: “I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless. Let me leave it at that.”

Today we are expecting this argument to develop as counting continues in Scotland.

But we are also getting another slew of election results for councils and mayoral contests in England, including the elections for mayors in London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and results are still being counted in Wales.

Here is our results tracker with the results so far.

And you can read our entire elections coverage here.

I’m afraid we’re having to launch with the comments turned off, but we should be able to turn them on later.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.





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