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Scotland's first minister vows to push for independence as SNP wins parliamentary election

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-05-09 07:50

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacts as she visits a counting centre as votes are counted for the Scottish Parliamentary election, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, May 7, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday pledged to push for a second independence referendum as her party secured "historic and extraordinary" fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish parliamentary election.

As the final results have been declared, the SNP will form the next Holyrood government with 64 seats, just one short of an overall majority.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have secured 31 seats; Scottish Labour 22, Scottish Greens eight and Scottish Liberal Democrats four.

In an earlier televised speech, Sturgeon said the SNP had won the most constituency seats and secured the highest share of the constituency vote in the history of devolution.

According to the BBC, the turnout of 66 percent during Thursday's election was the highest since the Scottish parliament was established in 1999.

"It is then to kick-start and drive our recovery with an ambitious and transformative programme for government," Sturgeon said.

"And, yes, when the crisis has passed, it is to give people in Scotland the right to choose their future. All of that is what I promised and all of that is what I intend to deliver."

Sturgeon said the result of the election meant there was "no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future."

She insisted that holding a referendum was now "the will of the country."

Earlier Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that it would be "reckless and irresponsible" for Scotland to hold a referendum right now.

"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," he said.

David Phinnemore, professor of European Politics at the Queen's University Belfast, has said the result of Scotland's election could impact the future of Britain.

"I suppose if the SNP doesn't get the majority, fall short of that majority, then it takes some of the pressure off in terms of Scottish independence," Phinnemore told Xinhua.

"The SNP is not going to go away. The whole question of Scottish independence isn't going to go away. But I think some of the momentum will have been taken out of this move towards a second referendum or the question of independence," he said.

Meanwhile, Phinnemore said there is a mix of concerns among Scottish voters.

"Obviously, a number of them are wanting to see an independent Scotland because they don't feel as though Scotland's actually been listened to during the Brexit process, or indeed, the COVID process. Equally, you obviously got people who want to see this very much opportunity to say, we don't want independence," he noted.

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, a majority of Scots voted for Britain to stay in the EU.

Phinnemore added that a Scottish independence in the context of Brexit would bring huge uncertainties both to Scotland and to Britain as well.

"And obviously, independence in the context of Brexit is different to independence in the context of membership in the European Union. And I think one of the concerns, if we look at the Brexit dimension is, if Scotland were to rejoin the European Union, you'd have to have border checks and withdrawals on North South across the English Scottish border," he said.

"And we know those are problematic, they are disruptive. And so from that dimension, there'll be costs, involved costs, which wouldn't have been there last time round," he added.

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