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BLOG: Back to life, back to the new Westminster reality

Nicola Sturgeon welcomes SNP leaders to Westminster today Credit: PA

It's back to political life here at Westminster, but back to the new reality.

Not the 'strong and stable' government Theresa May had hoped for, but a weak and unstable administration fighting for its political survival.

The atmosphere here is febrile. The bright-eyed new Tory MPs from Scotland are meeting their deeply depressed, and angry remaining colleagues from south of the Border.

Smiling for the cameras they may have been when they met Nicola Sturgeon in front of Big Ben today the diminished SNP group are privately chastened.

Labour? Well a mixture of surprise that they did unexpectedly well, and continued worry about Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, whatever their MPs say in public.

As for the Liberal Democrats, the impression they give is that they are just glad to have survived and recruited a few more to their cause.

In terms of Scotland, if anyone thought we might be moving away from the debate on independence, we certainly aren't - for now at least.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson with David Mundell and the party's MPs today Credit: PA

I've just spoken to newly re-appointed Scottish Secretary David Mundell and asked what his post-election message had been to the Prime Minister.

Fresh from substantially increasing his majority in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale, Mr Mundell had a spring in his step.

He told me he'd told Mrs May the election had taken the issue of a "divisive" second independence referendum off the table.

Mr Mundell was a little less forthcoming when it came to the issue of the EU and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson's clear hint that there should now be a so-called soft Brexit.

The Secretary of State said only be did not recognise the terminology of hard and soft Brexit, but access to EU markets had always been part of the government's plan.

I've also just questioned the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, in London for the day to speak to her 35 remaining MPs, down 21 from the 56 returned in 2015.

The First Minister was keen to stress her message that a 'hard Brexit' was not off the table - that phrase again - after the Tories failure to win a majority.

However, when I asked Ms Sturgeon why she could say that about Brexit but not indyref2 I got her now standard reply that she was taking time "to reflect" on the election result.

How long she will take to reflect is unclear though even a politician as astute as the First Minister will realise she cannot go on reflecting for very much longer without appearing indecisive.

With the Tories losing their majority, this parliament will be very different and the 35 remaining SNP MPs will have significant potential influence.

The new reality is of a minority Tory government supported, they hope, by the Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland.

That's the new reality for you and who know how it will pan out even in the short term, it is hard to tell.

What we do know in Scotland is that the issue of independence will continue to be important, a thought that will appal some and please others.

However, it is hard to see how the SNP and Ms Sturgeon can do anything other than find a way of damping down the flames of nationalism while keeping the fire alive.