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Scottish National Party sees steep losses in UK vote count

Posted June 8

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon's gamble on pushing for a second independence referendum appears to be backfiring.

The party is losing seats in the UK's general election, including that of the party's deputy leader Angus Robertson.

So far the party has lost more than a dozen seats, with more losses projected, something that only two years ago have been unthinkable.

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.

Until Thursday's UK vote, the SNP held 56 out of 59 of Scotland's Westminster seats in parliament -- a huge measure of support for the party following a narrow independence referendum defeat in 2014.

The party had banked on widespread Scottish anger with the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum, which was opposed by 62% of Scots, to force through another attempt to leave the Union with the idea of re-joining Europe as an independent nation.

The Scottish Parliament gave the green light for a second independence referendum in March.

Sturgeon is calling for a referendum to take place sometime between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019, but May -- prior to the general election -- indicated she would reject that timetable.

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."

It was in Scotland that Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party has made its first gain of the night, winning Angus in Scotland from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Elsewhere, high-profile SNP MPs like Paisley's Mhairi Black, who in 2015 at the age of 20 was elected as the country's youngest MP, kept her seat despite early jitters that she might lose it.

May warns Sturgeon 'politics is not a game'

Turning tides

With pro-union parties making gains across the board and the SNP share of the vote in several Scottish seats falling significantly, this could be a sign that the huge gains made by the nationalist, pro-independence party in the 2015 election "may be reverting back to Conservative and Labour," pollster Marcus Roberts told CNN.

The sentiment was also noted by CNN's Nic Robertson. Speaking as the SNP's deputy leader lost his Moray seat to Conservative challenger Douglas Ross, 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."

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