‘Not a good night for SNP’, says Sturgeon as exit poll suggests seat collapse

Thursday was “not a good night for the SNP”, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as the exit poll suggests the party could drop to as few as 10 seats.

The BBC/ITV/Sky survey was published as polls closed at 10pm, predicting a 170-seat majority for Labour across the UK.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party’s success appears to have extended north of the border, with the SNP losing 38 seats compared with the 2019 election.

Speaking on ITV, the ex-SNP leader reacted minutes after the exit poll was revealed, she said: “This is not a good night for the SNP on these numbers.

“I think there will be a question about whether there was enough in the campaign to give out, effectively, a USP to the SNP in an election that was about getting the Tories out and replacing them with Labour.”

She added: “This is at the grimmer end of the expectations for the SNP if the exit poll is right and, from what I’ve said earlier on, I expect it will be.

“This is seismic for Labour. There’s no getting away from that, it’s a massive achievement for Keir Starmer.”

The first result in Scotland is expected to be Rutherglen, which could declare at 1am.

The SNP’s campaign centred around calls for talks on another independence referendum if the party won a majority of seats at the election.

Ballot boxes emptied at the Glasgow General Election count
Ballot boxes are emptied at Emirates Arena in Glasgow, during the General Election count (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Despite the exit poll result, Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes told the BBC: “I would strongly caution anybody against dismissing the robust, resilient and significant number of people in this country that support independence and the next Labour government will have to contend with that, we’ll have to listen to Scottish voters because even over the last few months – which have been difficult – that support for independence has remained strong.”

But she added the party would need to “listen to the voices of voters” and “set out our agenda to regain and rebuild the trust of the voters across Scotland”, she said.

The party’s campaign chief, Stewart Hosie, described the poll as “stark” but insisted it was “just an exit poll”.

“In the next few hours, we’ll see how accurate or otherwise it is,” he told the PA news agency.

Asked what such a result could mean for the SNP, Mr Hosie said he was not concerned.

Alison Thewliss and Stewart Hosie
SNP candidate for Glasgow North, Alison Thewliss, with SNP director Stewart Hosie at Emirates Arena in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“In 2005, I think we were down to five or six MPs and we went on to win the Holyrood election in 2007,” he said.

Former first minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said the SNP’s potential collapse was “not because of independence”.

“How could it be? The SNP did not even campaign on it,” he said.

“In reality, the support for independence is strong. It is the SNP who are weak. The independence case must now find new vehicles to move forward.”

Votes being counted
Votes being counted at the Ice Hall in the Dewars Centre, Perth, during the count for the Perth and Kinross-shire constituency (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross told the BBC the exit poll predicts a “historically bad” result for the Tories across the UK.

He said he did not regret his last-minute decision to stand in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East but predicted an “extremely close” result.

Speaking from the Aberdeen count, he said: “It is a historically bad night, there is no shying away from that at all and there will be a huge amount of reflection on the campaign and also clearly the last few years.

“It has been particularly difficult and there’s no denying that and whoever forms the next parliamentary party will look at the options going forward and will assess the current state of play in the Conservative Party and how it rebuilds after this election result.”

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser told journalists at the election count for Perth and Kinross-shire that despite the dire predictions for the Tories across the UK, in Scotland the party could make gains.

He said: “It does look like, on the basis of the exit poll, the Conservatives might not just be looking to hold the seats we have in Scotland but actually might make gains.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy warned against reading into the UK-wide exit poll when predicting results in Scotland.

Speaking to the BBC from the Glasgow election count, he said: “I think all of our seats are going to be very, very close in Scotland.”

Asked about analysis of the exit poll pointing to possible Tory gains in Scotland, he said: “I think we should be very cautious about taking a UK-wide exit poll and trying to extrapolate something in Scotland from it.”

The exit poll predictions signal voters had a “desperate need for change”, a Scottish Labour MSP has said. Glasgow MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy said the exit poll predicted a “strong” result for Labour.

She told PA: “It was a strong exit poll. I think that the country has been saying for some time now that they’re fed up of the 14 years of Tory chaos.”

She added: “There’s really been a desperate need for change and we’ve ran a really strong, positive campaign and I’m so proud of it.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the exit poll was a “hopeful” sign for his party at a UK level where it predicted two Green MPs.

Speaking to PA from the Glasgow count, he said any gain from the one English seat the Greens won at the 2019 general election would be “something to celebrate”.