Irish backstop –
Nicola Sturgeon is to declare that she has won a renewed mandate for a second independence referendum after significant gains for the SNP.
The first minister and SNP leader will demand on Friday that Boris Johnson gives her the powers to stage a further independence vote after Ipsos Mori’s exit poll predicted her party would win up to 55 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats.
Sturgeon is expected to write to the British prime minister Boris Johnson next week asking him to transfer the legal powers to stage a new referendum to the Scottish parliament. He is certain to reject that request out of hand, pushing the UK to the edge of a constitutional crisis.
With the exit poll forecasting the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, could lose her seat of East Dunbartonshire to the SNP, Ms Sturgeon’s strategists were sceptical the SNP would win as many contests as predicted as there are a large number of marginal seats in Scotland.
They estimate the party will win around 45 seats but said the substantial Conservative victory predicted in England highlighted a dramatic and widening gap between the two countries.
“If that poll is right then it looks like Boris Johnson has a mandate to take England out of the EU but he certainly has no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU, and that is a very very serious problem,” said one of Ms Sturgeon’s advisers.
In Tory-held seats, the SNP is believed to have benefitted from a substantial pro-EU tactical vote by large numbers of Liberal Democrat and Labour voters swayed by Ms Sturgeon’s switch late on in the campaign to focus solely on defeating Boris Johnson and preventing Brexit.
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Tory sources said their expected losses include north-east Scotland, seen as a bulwark of Brexit support when the Tories won a swathe of SNP seats there in 2017, unseating Alex Salmond, the former first minister and SNP leader.
The Scottish Tories had focused their campaign on attacking Ms Sturgeon’s bid for a fresh independence referendum and Jeremy Corbyn’s willingness to allow one, yet appear to have lost many of their Scottish seats, the SNP source said.
“The Tories bet the union – that was their entire campaign. They said vote against the SNP to stop ‘indyref2’, but Scotland has voted for the SNP. That is the reality of tonight.”
Angus Robertson, the former SNP Westminster leader who lost his seat to the Tories in the 2017 election, said the party was now certain to win the largest number of Scottish seats for the fourth general election in a row.
At each election the SNP had proposed independence, reinforcing their electoral mandate. “Standing in the way, saying you can’t decide your own future, is for the birds,” he told the BBC.
Sources from all four major Scottish parties believe the exit poll has exaggerated the effect of a national swing in support for the SNP. Even so, Labour is expected to have a very difficult night. – Guardian
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