"RECKLESS" Nicola Sturgeon's hopes of an SNP majority are on a knife edge, as Boris Johnson slams her plans for a second referendum.
It is almost certain her party will keep control of Holyrood, but its majority is set to be extremely tight.
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She declared "when the time is right", she wants to offer Scots "the choice of a better future" in a second independence referendum.
But the Prime Minister slammed her comments, saying his impression was that Scottish voters had "moved away from the idea of a referendum".
He told the Telegraph another referendum would be "irresponsible and reckless" in the "current context" as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis.
Asked what he would do if Ms Sturgeon attempted to hold one without a Section 30 order from Westminster granting permission, he said there is "no case now for such a thing".
With some constituencies still to be counted today, when the crucial regional list results will also be declared, Ms Sturgeon said victory is "not impossible".
With 48 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.
And while the majority of the 129 MSPs at Holyrood have still be declared, Ms Sturgeon said it is "almost certain" the SNP will win its fourth term in power at Holyrood.
'IRRESPONSIBLE AND RECKLESS'
Two marginal seats could hold the key to the SNP winning an overall majority today.
Conservative-held Aberdeenshire West and Galloway & West Dumfries are both due to declare later.
If the SNP win one – or both – it's possible they will grab the elusive 65 MSPs needed for a Holyrood majority.
Speaking last night after the SNP missed out on their top target – Labour-held Dumbarton – , elections expert Professor Sir John Curtice said there was "still a pathway" to an overall SNP majority but said: "It's a very, very narrow one.
The SNP have pledged to push forward with legislation at Holyrood for a second Scottish independence referendum which if passed could be challenged by the UK Government in court.
Scots voted against independence in 2014 in a decisive poll which politicians from both sides claimed was a once-in-a-generation exercise.
Boris’s Conservative party has seen astonishing victories in the elections so far – beating out Labour for several seats across England.
The Tories snatched a Westminster seat from Starmer’s party in the Hartlepool by-election.
In Tees Valley, a usual Labour majority, conservatives won more than 70 per cent of the mayoral vote.
Tory council wins included bellwether authorities Harlow in Essex, Cornwall, Dudley, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Nottinghamshire and Northumberland.
It is thought the party could win 36 more Labour seats in a general election.
Harlow MP Robert Halfon said: "We are the true workers' party now. And the Boris brand works – he is liked by people in a way that Labour do not understand."
Finally breaking his silence nine hours after the bombshell Hartlepool defeat, Sir Keir admitted he had failed to “connect” with voters.
He added the “bitterly disappointing” defeats show Labour is hopelessly out of touch with working class Brits.
But he denied the party is facing a life or death battle for survival.
The choice of a better future
Polling for Scotland breaking free of the UK has slipped to its lowest level in 18 months, slumping two points to 42 per cent, according to a poll from ComRes taken last week.
Just four in ten want to leave the UK if there were a fresh poll tomorrow – showing the results would be similar to the 2014 referendum.
And the Tories won more than 70% of the mayoral vote in Tees Valley – an area that used to vote Labour.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has retained her seat in Glasgow Southside, meaning the SNP hold the constituency.
She's previously stated that if the SNP gain a majority in May's vote they will push for the means to hold IndyRef2 in the life of the next parliament.
Ms Sturgeon's opponents have attacked her plans to hold another vote on Scottish independence during the next Holyrood term, warning this will hinder the country's recovery – though she has insisted such a referendum will not take place until the immediate health crisis has passed.
She told voters: "I'm ready to get back to work, to take the difficult decisions, and to put Scotland first.
“By giving both votes to the SNP tomorrow people will get experienced leadership, a serious programme for government and, when the Covid crisis is over, the right to decide whether Scotland should be an independent country."
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