Nicola Sturgeon has said she has a “renewed, refreshed and strengthened” mandate for a second vote on Scottish independence, as the SNP made a series of gains in the General Election.
While Boris Johnson is heading back to Downing Street with a majority – allowing him to push ahead with plans to leave the European Union – in Scotland it is Ms Sturgeon’s party that has most cause to celebrate.
The SNP ousted Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire, while former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill made a return to front-line politics after winning the East Lothian seat from Labour.
The Scottish Conservatives were defeated in constituencies including Angus in the north of Scotland and East Renfrewshire in the central belt.
Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, said it had been an “exceptionally good night” for her party – though she described the picture across the UK as “pretty grim”.
She said the Tories north of the border had had a “catastrophic result”.
The Tory campaign in Scotland had focused squarely on preventing a second vote on independence – while the SNP had based their campaign on stopping Brexit and pursuing a fresh independence referendum.
Speaking from the count in Glasgow, where the SNP won all the seats up for grabs, Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland: “I accept that Boris Johnson after this election has a mandate to take England out of the Euroepan Union, but he does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the European Union.
“And I have a mandate, a renewed, refreshed, strengthened mandate to offer people in Scotland the choice of a different future.
“It is then up to people in Scotland what choice they make.
“I don’t pretend everybody who voted SNP yesterday will necessarily support independence, but there is a clear endorsement Scotland should get to decide our future and not have it decided for us.”
The First Minister will write to the Prime Minister before Christmas to formally demand Holyrood be given the power to hold a second vote on independence.
While Boris Johnson has made clear he will block such a ballot, Ms Sturgeon said the Tories must “reflect very carefully” on the result of the election.
She said: “The Scottish Conservatives put opposition to an independence referendum front and centre in their campaign – in fact there was no other aspect to the Scottish Conservative campaign. Jackson Carlaw said the union was on the ballot paper.
“The Scottish Conservatives have had a catastrophic result tonight, they have lost the election, they have lost seats and their argument has been rejected.
“They have to recognise democracy. Scotland can’t be kept in the UK against its will. It can only do that by consent, therefore Scotland has to have the ability to decide that question.
“Then it is up to the people of Scotland what decision they make.”