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Nicola Sturgeon: Election “grimmer” than expected for bruised SNP

Former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said results for the SNP, now led by John Swinney, were worse than expected in the exit poll
Former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said results for the SNP, now led by John Swinney, were worse than expected in the exit poll

Thursday is “not a good night for the SNP”, Nicola Sturgeon has said as the exit poll suggests the party could drop to as few as 10 seats.

The BBC/ITV/Sky survey was published as polls closed at 10pm, predicting a 170 seat majority for Labour across the UK.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party’s success appears to have extended north of the border, with the SNP losing 38 seats compared with the 2019 election.

Speaking on ITV, the ex-SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon reacted minutes after the exit poll suggested her party could lose 38 seats compared to the 2019 election.

“This is not a good night for the SNP on these numbers,” she said.

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“I think there will be a question about whether there was enough in the campaign to give out, effectively, a USP to the SNP in an election that was about getting the Tories out and replacing them with Labour.”

Sturgeon added: “This is at the grimmer end of the expectations for the SNP if the exit poll is right and, from what I’ve said earlier on, I expect it will be.

“This is seismic for Labour. There’s no getting away from that, it’s a massive achievement for Keir Starmer.

“I think it will be interesting as the night progresses to see the extent this is driven by the Tory collapse as opposed to a Labour surge.”

The first result in Scotland is expected to be Rutherglen, which could declare at 1am.

Speaking on ITV, the former Scottish first minister said she believed the results of the exit poll would turn out to be “broadly right”.

The SNP’s campaign centred around calls for talks on another independence referendum if the party won a majority of seats at the election.

But despite the exit poll result, Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes told the BBC: “I would strongly caution anybody against dismissing the robust, resilient and significant number of people in this country that support independence and the next Labour government will have to contend with that, we’ll have to listen to Scottish voters because even over the last few months – which have been difficult – that support for independence has remained strong.”

But she added the party would need to “listen to the voices of voters”.

The SNP would also “set out our agenda to regain and rebuild the trust of the voters across Scotland”, she said.

While the party’s campaign chief, Stewart Hosie, described the poll as “stark” but insisted it was “just an exit poll”.

“In the next few hours, we’ll see how accurate or otherwise it is,” he told the PA news agency.

Asked what such a result could mean for the SNP, Mr Hosie said he was not concerned.

“In 2005, I think we were down to five or six MPs and we went on to win the Holyrood election in 2007,” he said.

“In 2010, I think we returned six and went on to win a majority in Holyrood in 2011.

“So I’m not worried about what this means for the SNP, but clearly if this result or something like it comes to pass, it tells us that the overriding motivation for almost everybody in this election was simply to get the Tories out and people appear to have decided that a vote for Labour is the way to do that.”

Former first minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said the SNP’s potential collapse was “not because of independence”.

“How could it be? The SNP did not even campaign on it,” he said.

“In reality, the support for independence is strong. It is the SNP who are weak. The independence case must now find new vehicles to move forward.”

Press Association