Nicola Sturgeon has declared a second Scottish independence referendum is the ‘will of the country’ despite projections she will narrowly miss out on an overall majority.

With 73 out of 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament declared, it appeared that the SNP, which has won 62 seats so far, would miss out on the 65-seats needed for an outright victory.

‘The route to 65 is now clearly closed,’ said John Curtice, the UK’s leading election expert. ‘That said, we are clearly looking at a Scottish Parliament with an enhanced pro-independence majority.’

The SNP failed to gain Aberdeenshire West from the Scottish Conservatives, which was seen as integral to the first minister’s hopes of gaining outright control.

However, the Scottish leader said she was ‘thrilled’ with the results, saying her party has won the highest share and highest number of votes of any party in the history of devolution.

‘By any standards this is a historic achievement, a quite extraordinary achievement for the SNP,’ she said.

Ms Sturgeon said her hope to have a second independence referendum in the first half of the parliament remains realistic, despite Boris Johnson warning against the ‘irresponsible’ move.

The defiant SNP leader said any Westminster politician who stands in the way of a Scottish Independence referendum is ‘not picking a fight with the SNP, you are picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people’.

She said: ‘While we don’t know the final tally of seats right now, it looks as if it is beyond any doubt that there will be a pro-independence majority in that Scottish Parliament. And by any normal standard of democracy that majority should have the commitments it made to the people of Scotland honoured.

‘So for any Westminster politician who tries to stand in the way of that I would say two things. Firstly, you are not picking a fight with the SNP, you are picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people and secondly you will not succeed.

‘The only people who can decide the future of Scotland are the Scottish people and no Westminster politician can or should stand in the way of that.
She added that the timing of an independence referendum should be for the Scottish Parliament to make.’

She added: ‘That is not a decision for Boris Johnson or for any Westminster politician.’

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