Scottish election 2021: Boris Johnson cannot refuse an independence referendum and the will of the people – Keith Brown MSP

This election is a resounding victory for the SNP, and gives us a historic and unprecedented fourth term in office as the government of Scotland.

It is worth pausing to reflect on the scale of the SNP’s achievement. Not only have we been re-elected as by far the largest party at Holyrood, we have increased our share of the vote, even from the record percentage we received in 2016.

We have received both the biggest ever percentage share of the vote and the highest actual number of votes cast for any party in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

We have won 62 out of 73 first-past-the-post constituencies, again a new record high for any party. The closest any other party has come to that was Labour’s 53 constituencies in the first Holyrood election in 1999.

With the constituency share of the SNP vote edging towards 50 per cent of all those cast, it is a victory which also dwarfs those of any party at Westminster in modern times, including Boris Johnson’s current administration. And it also stands out internationally as far in advance of what most governing parties achieve in other countries, across Europe and beyond.

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All of this of course has been achieved after 14 years in office. As such, the result is an emphatic re-endorsement of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and of the SNP’s record in government.

We will take that endorsement and the trust placed in us by the people of Scotland, and an SNP government will get straight back to work. As the First Minister has said, tackling the Covid crisis and getting the country safely through the rest of the pandemic remains the pressing priority.

Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie while having an ice cream in Ayr during campaigning for the Scottish Parliament election (Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA)

We will also take forward our transformative programme for government, as outlined in our manifesto, including huge additional investment in our NHS, more opportunities for our younger people and more affordable housing.

And of course, we will offer the people of Scotland a choice on their future when the time is right, once the Covid crisis is over.

Let there be no doubt about it – the people of Scotland have elected a Parliament with a clear and unambiguous pro-independence majority, and no democrat should try to stand in the way of that.

Boris Johnson can try and argue it any way he likes, coming up with ever more spurious reasons, but he cannot deny democratic reality and he has no right whatsoever to try to block the will of the people of Scotland.

The electorate are the people who matter and they have spoken clearly, giving pro-independence parties a majority. Both the SNP and Scottish Greens stood on manifestos that were crystal clear in saying there should be an independence referendum within the coming parliamentary term.

That is not a demand of the SNP or any political party or any individual politician.

It is the democratic will of the people of Scotland and it must be respected.

Keith Brown is MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane and depute leader of the SNP

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