London, 9 May 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Scottish National Party (SNP), which favours Scottish independence, won the elections in the regional parliament on Saturday, making the prospect of a second referendum on breaking away from the United Kingdom more likely.
The SNP won 64 seats in parliament, the Electoral Commission in Edinburgh announced on Saturday evening, but narrowly missed an absolute majority of 65.
However, as the Greens, who are also calling for independence, won eight seats, pro-independence parties have a clear majority.
Another Scottish independence referendum is the “will of the country,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Sturgeon, who leads the SNP, has said that she would push ahead with a second referendum on Scottish independence from the rest of the United Kingdom if her party wins a majority in parliament and “when the time is right.”
On Saturday, she pledged to make fighting the pandemic her first priority, but said that the people of Scotland should be able to decide on the constitutional question.
“It is a commitment made to the people,” she said. “It is the will of the country.”
Earlier in the evening, Sturgeon said any Westminster politician who “now stands in the way of a Scottish independence referendum is not picking a fight with the SNP, you are picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.”
She added, “you will not succeed.”
Later, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Sturgeon to a Union summit, saying that the devolved leaders in Wales and Northern Ireland would also be invited.
“I believe passionately that the interests of people across the UK … are best served when we work together,” Johnson said in a letter to Sturgeon, as cited by the Press Association.
The win was the SNP’s fourth consecutive success and the party gained three seats compared to 2016.
Sturgeon called the results a historic success.
The other major parties running in the elections that were held on Thursday include the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats – who are all against Scottish independence.
The situation is already fanning tensions with London, with Johnson rejecting such a referendum as “irresponsible and reckless” in comments to the Daily Telegraph.
The general legal view is that the government in London must approve a referendum on Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom.
Scotland previously held a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, when 55 per cent of people voted to remain part of the union, while 45 per cent voted against.
Sturgeon emphasizes, however, that Brexit, which the Scots rejected, has changed the situation.