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Ruth Davidson dismisses Scottish Tories breakaway claim

25 June 2017

Those losses included former leader Alex Salmond, who led Scotland in the unsuccessful bid for independence in 2014, and the SNP's top lawmaker in the British Parliament, Angus Robertson.

"I think it's very clear that any plan Nicola Sturgeon had for a second independence referendum has to disappear as a result of this election".

The election results in Scotland have delivered a number of surprises. For example, the nationalists campaigned on raising the top rate of tax so as to offset the effects on austerity in 2015 but, when an amendment was proposed to the Scottish budget to raise it, the SNP voted it down. Labour fared unexpectedly well, adding half a dozen seats to the single seat held in Edinburgh South.

Nevertheless, independence was not the only reason why the SNP suffered its first significant electoral setback in a decade. Before the election, five people died during a vehicle and knife attack near Parliament on March 22.

While the the SNP won almost all available seats in 2015, this was largely because the pro-independence vote rallied behind one party, whereas the Unionist vote was split three ways between Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

This time around, however, it is harder to see the silver lining for Scottish nationalism.

In a curious reversal of 2015, when the SNP took 40 Scottish seats including those of former cabinet ministers, name recognition appeared to have little bearing on constituency results.

Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson were among the high-profile nationalists ousted from Westminster. In other places, they seriously challenged the SNP, such Perth and North Perthshire, where Tory Ian Duncan fell short of displacing SNP Commons veteran Pete Wishart by only 27 votes.

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The final Scottish seat to declare was Fife North East, where there were three recounts before Stephen Gethins of the SNP was declared the victor after finishing just two votes ahead of the Lib Dem candidate. Even effective media performers such as Mhairi Black and Tommy Sheppard were left with unexpectedly nervous waits to confirm their seats.

By contrast Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, is buoyant.

Davidson, whose colourful humour and approachability has won her many fans, notched up the Conservatives' best result since 1983 north of the border.

The Scottish Daily Express leads with a similar story, claiming Ms Sturgeon signalled she could "shelve" plans for a second independence referendum following the outcome of Thursday's poll.

In his victory speech at the Meadowbank count in the city, Mr Murray told his supporters: "I stood here two years ago bemoaning the loss of my colleagues but tonight the Scottish Labour Party is back".

Certainly, this general election makes the prospect of an independence referendum in the near future far less likely. Public polls showed no post-Brexit independence surge, and private polling showed that even yes voters were nervous about yet another vote after local, Scottish and United Kingdom elections and European and independence referendums. This bombshell was dropped in the middle of the final STV debate before polling day and caused Ms Dugdale to respond furiously that the First Minister was "lying". Back then Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the EU. As it turned out, however, many Scots have had it with with the ballot box.

But the SNP's support for independence was not the only factor in its election travails.

Ruth Davidson dismisses Scottish Tories breakaway claim