Nicola Sturgeon’s mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum has been shattered following the political earthquake of last week’s UK election. The Scottish National Party lost a third of their representation in Westminster and with it any realistic chance of pushing for another vote anytime in the near future.
This is a slap-down for the nationalists, who until now have relished the opportunity presented by the uncertainty of Brexit to argue the case for Indyref2. Sturgeon would’ve been hoping to use last Thursday’s vote to consolidate SNP gains at the 2015 election and capitalise on the backlash against Theresa May’s government.
The results in Scotland were a complete contrast from the remainder of Britain, with the Tories emerging victorious in 13 constituencies — 12 more than 2015 — their best result since the 1980s. It continues a noticeable trend, with the Conservatives also doubling their seats at the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election.
Following the election, Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged independence was ‘undoubtedly’ a factor in the decline of support for the SNP. Her colleague Stewart Hosie, Deputy Leader of the SNP at Westminster, suggested the possibility of a second referendum mobilised the Unionist vote in Scotland.
A week later the repercussions of the vote are already being felt. The SNP is scrambling to replace House of Commons leader Angus Robertson, who lost his seat during last Thursday’s chaos. Meanwhile, the funding page campaigning for a referendum in 2018 has been taken down.
What does this mean for the SNP? The prospect of another independence vote in the near future is certainly off the cards. Nicola Sturgeon will have some thinking to do as she seeks to appease an electorate that is clearly questioning the merit of more political upheaval in this time of great uncertainty.
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