Independence ‘not really put front and centre’ of SNP campaign, says Sturgeon

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scottish independence “wasn’t really put front and centre” of the SNP’s campaign.

The ex-SNP leader – contributing to the election night coverage of broadcaster ITV – however said it would be “foolish” for the incoming government to discount independence support north of the border.

With the joint BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll suggesting the SNP could drop as low as 10 seats, although some parties have questioned the accuracy of the survey in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think one of the questions out of the SNP result tonight is whether they’ve left themselves between two stools on the independence question because I think – in my view – it wasn’t really put front and centre.”

The SNP decision to put its push for independence on “page one, line one” of the manifesto gave the impression it was the “big issue” of the party’s campaign and voters have “cast their verdict on that”.

“But it was never followed through on in a day-to-day basis in the campaign – we didn’t hear day after day after day SNP spokespeople make the case for why independence was an answer to the big issues at the heart of the election campaign,” she added.

The SNP’s campaign centred around winning a majority of seats in Scotland and beginning talks on a new independence referendum with the incoming government, but both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer rejected such an idea.

With the party looking set to fall well below the 29 seats required to meet its own target, Ms Sturgeon said: “A lot of the people – if not the majority of people – who in this election have shifted from the SNP to Labour, they still believe in independence, they haven’t shifted their opinion on independence.

“So it might take the issue off of the immediate agenda for Keir Starmer, but it would be – I think – foolish to suggest that the independence question has gone away.”