Nicola Sturgeon: If Boris Johnson wants to stop Scottish independence referendum 'he would have to go to Supreme Court'

ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith hears from Nicola Sturgeon on whether the Scottish independence debate could reach the Supreme Court

Nicola Sturgeon has told ITV News she is feeling "quietly confident" about an overall SNP majority and that Scotland will have another independence referendum within the next five years.

She added that the push for another vote on Scotland's future could go as high as the Supreme Court.

In the Scottish Parliamentary election, 65 is the magic number for an overall majority - a figure the SNP is chasing in hope of a mandate for IndyRef2.

With the count at the halfway point and paused until Saturday, the first minister told ITV News: "The SNP is on course for a fourth consecutive election victory and a fourth term in office after 14-years in government. That's an extraordinary achievement."

Even if the SNP does not gain an outright majority, other pro-independence parties such as the Scottish Greens would further tip the balance in Hollyrood towards leaving the UK.

'The absurdity of a position where a PM was going to court to overturn the democratic decision of the Scottish people? I don't think we'll get to the position'

ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith questioned Ms Sturgeon about how she could ensure a second independence referendum when one cannot take place unless approved by the UK government in Westminster.

"We would proceed with the legislation that is necessary, and that would only happen if it was passed by the Scottish Parliament," Ms Sturgeon said.

"If he [Boris Johnson] wanted to stop that it would be the case that he would have to go to the Supreme Court to challenge it - and that would be his decision not mine.

She continued: "The absurdity of a position where a PM was going to court to overturn the democratic decision of the Scottish people? I don't think we'll get to the position."

Peter Smith runs through the scenarious of what the Supreme Court could decide should it get to that point

Ms Sturgeon said it was key to first await the outcome of the Scottish election and "get through Covid" before another referendum.

The first minister was among four of the seats the SNP retained in Glasgow on Friday.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Bill Kidd and Bob Doris will also return to Holyrood for the SNP, with another four constituencies in the Glasgow region due to declare on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Labour's Jackie Baillie held on to her Dumbarton constituency - which had been the most marginal seat in all of Scotland and a top target for the SNP.

Ms Baillie had a majority of just 109 from the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, but increased that 1,483.

Nicola Sturgeon celebrates after retaining her seat for Glasgow Southside Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

With some constituencies still to be counted on Saturday, when the crucial regional list results will also be declared, Ms Sturgeon remained positive.

Ms Sturgeon told ITV News on Friday she felt "pretty positive, pretty happy" about the performance of her party so far.

"At this stage we've held our own, more than that, and I'm quietly confident," she added.

"Let's not lose sight of the fact that the SNP is on course for a fourth consecutive election victory and a fourth term in office after 14-years in government.

"That's an extraordinary achievement and demonstrates the strength of support for the SNP."

Why do some Scots want another run at an independence vote? ITV News Election Analyst Professor Colin Rallings explains

With 47 constituency results declared on Friday, the SNP had 39 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two.

The coronavirus pandemic meant traditional overnight counts were abandoned after Thursday's Scottish Parliament election.

Meanwhile with more than 30 seats declared across Scotland, just two have changed hands - the SNP took East Lothian from the Scottish Labour Party and also won Ayr from the Conservatives.

Paul McLennan won 17,968 votes in the seat, which was held by former Labour leader Iain Gray until his retirement this year.

Former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson won the Edinburgh Central constituency formerly held by ex-Scottish Conservative chief Ruth Davidson.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney retained his Perthshire North seat to become longest serving member of the Scottish parliament, re-elected for the sixth time.

Professor Jane Green explains what Friday's results show us so far in terms of Scotland's opinions on independence

As he secured his Perthshire North seat, Deputy First Minister Mr Swinney said the SNP would be the "leading and largest party" in the new Scottish Parliament.

While he said there is a "long way to go" before all the results are known, he insisted it is "beyond any doubt" that the SNP will form the next government.

He added: "That is an absolutely gigantic feat for the Scottish National Party to have achieved, to be on the brink of a fourth continuous term."

Scottish Labour held Edinburgh Southern, declared on Friday night, their first seat of the Scottish Parliament election so far.

Elsewhere, former first minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said the measure of his party's success would be "our existence as a political party", adding it is "here to say"

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