Scottish referendum in doubt after steep losses for SNP in UK vote

Story highlights

  • SNP made huge gains across Scotland in the 2015 General Election
  • Leader Nicola Sturgeon has pushed for a second independence referendum

(CNN)Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon's continued support for a second independence referendum appears to have backfired, after her party endured a series of shock defeats in Thursday's UK general election.

The party lost a total of 21 seats across Scotland, including that of SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, and former party leader and SNP heavyweight Alex Salmond.
    The sizable losses appear to have been a repudiation of the party's promise to send Scots back to the polls for a second independence vote.
    In the early hours of Friday morning, Sturgeon admitted the poor results meant she would need to "reflect" on the appetite for a referendum.

    UK Election 2017 results

    Sturgeon told the BBC that a "post-Brexit uncertainty" was a factor in people's voting choices and "certainly the independence referendum is part of that."
    Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson, euphoric about her party's gains in Scotland, said that IndyRef 2, the colloquial name for a second referendum, was dead in the water.
    "I think we have seen the country's reaction in the number of SNP seats falling," she told the BBC. "Indyref 2 is dead."

    Sturgeon: We could be part of 'progressive' coalition

    SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon, holds a final campaign rally in Leith on July 7, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
    Sturgeon put a positive spin on the losses -- which saw her party reduced to to just 35 MPs across Scotland -- arguing the SNP was still the third-largest party in parliament and as such would have a role to play.
    "Now, we have to wait and see how things shake out. But I've always said -- the SNP would want to be part of a progressive alternative to a Tory government."
    Asked about the party's losses in Scotland, Sturgeon said: "I'm not going to stand here and say I'm not disappointed the SNP lost seats. But... this is our second best ever result, and we've won the election in Scotland. We got more seats... than all the other parties combined."

    Brexit fallout

    The SNP had argued that Scots deserved a do-over of the 2014 independence referendum, which the "leave" campaign lost by around 5%.
    The calls came in the wake of 2015's Brexit referendum, which Scottish voters overwhelmingly rejected, but will be forced to accept as long as they remain part of the UK.
    The Scottish Parliament gave the green light for a second independence referendum in March, but any vote would need to be ratified by Westminster, and Prime Minister Theresa May has already rejected this timetable.
    The party made huge gains across Scotland in the 2015 General Election, all but wiping out Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats north of the border; each party retained only one seat each.
    Sturgeon railed against May's approach to Brexit, arguing that the UK was headed towards a "bad deal." May hit back at Sturgeon for her "tunnel vision."

    Turning tides

    Speaking as the SNP's deputy leader lost his Moray seat to Conservative challenger Douglas Ross, CNN's Nic Robertson said that he had "noticed some sensitivity with Angus Robertson" on the campaign trail.
    "I can only put that down to how he felt in the run up to the election, what he was hearing on the doorsteps wasn't so pleasing to the ears."
    Speaking to Scottish voters, Robertson said that the message emerging from the country was that the SNP's drive for a second independence referendum has driven voters away from them.
    "Perhaps this is one area where Theresa May delivered," he said.
    "We know when she took over ... one of the things she spoke most passionately about was keeping the union together. Well it appears that calling this snap election at least does dent the SNP's prospects of calling for a second independence referendum... so in that context Theresa May perhaps has delivered... a United Kingdom remaining united."