Boris Johnson struggles to halt independence calls

SNP won Scottish Parliament election, Labour retained power in Wales

Photo: AP Nicola Sturgeon

British loyalists suffered bitter election defeats in two major UK countries which vowed to speed efforts to gain independence from England, BBC reported. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson however said he had invited for talks the leaders of the two nations to a summit on how "Team UK" can recover from the pandemic. It follows the SNP's fourth Scottish Parliament election win in a row and Labour's win in the Welsh Parliament.

SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said there could be "no democratic justification" for blocking an independence vote. But Johnson said talk of "ripping our country apart" would be "irresponsible and reckless".

The prime minister congratulated Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford on their re-elections and invited them to a meeting "to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them". The SNP had been hopeful of winning an outright majority which would have strengthened their call for a secession vote but they looked set to fall one seat short of the 65 required in the 129-seat Scottish parliament, partly because of an electoral system that helps smaller parties.

Pro-union supporters argue that the SNP's failure to get a majority has made it easier for Johnson to rebut their argument that they have a mandate for a referendum. However, the Scottish Greens, who have promised to support a referendum, picked up eight seats, meaning overall there will be a comfortable pro-independence majority in the Scottish assembly. Scottish politics has been diverging from other parts of the United Kingdom for some time, but Scots remain divided over holding another independence plebiscite. The prime minister's letter to Drakeford included the line: "We both share a belief in the enormous potential of our United Kingdom - both to be a force for good in the world and to be an engine of security and prosperity for its citizens here at home." Labour retained power in Wales.

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