The only certainty is uncertainty
9 June 2017
So Theresa May is the gambling Prime Minister who put her money on red and it came up black as the UK voted for a hung parliament.
The election that has been characterised as the one no-one really wanted has moved the country into unchartered territory as Theresa May tries to pull together a government days before the crucial Brexit negotiations are due to commence.
Just seven weeks ago Mrs May called a snap election that she hoped would capitalise on the Tories riding high in the polls and deliver a “strong and stable” government to get the best deal for the UK as we leave the EU.
Now all we have is uncertainty, with a lame duck PM, a minority government that will struggle to get legislation through parliament and the prospect of another general election in the not too distant future.
The post mortem on this self-inflicted disaster for the Tories is already in full swing, with many looking for answers on how the PM allowed Jeremy Corbyn to pull off an unlikely resurgence for Labour that has left Parliament in limbo.
Perhaps the only crumb of comfort for Mrs May is that a wounded Tory party might not have the stomach for the bloodletting that would come with a bruising leadership fight.
It wasn’t just a bad night at the office for the Tories. Nicola Sturgeon suffered a catalogue of set backs, even considering the SNP has more bums on the green benches than all the other Scottish parties combined. Returning 35 SNP MPs out of a possible 59 Scottish seats would have been a remarkable result in any other election. But it won’t feel like that for the First Minister this morning.
The SNP lost 21 seats, most notably heavyweights former First Minister Alex Salmond and deputy leader Angus Robertson. Pete Wishart won his Perth and North Perthshire seat by just 21 votes. And rising star Stephen Gethins scraped home by an incredible 2 votes in North East Fife.
Like the Tories, post match analysis will be going on right now in the SNP to work out what went wrong. Momentum is everything in politics. And it seems the SNP juggernaut has the brakes on, meaning indyref2 has been kicked way down the road.
Just as Mrs May will be pondering her huge political mistake, SNP strategists will be questioning whether Ms Sturgeon’s determination to push for independence following the Brexit vote was the factor that motivated votes against the SNP.
There will also be the issue of who will lead the SNP at Westminster. Could it be a comeback for veteran Stewart Hosie? Or will it be a call up for Mr Gethins, seen as a rising star of the Nats, but with that most slender of majorities?
It might feel like a thumping for the SNP. But ironically, in a hung parliament the SNP group of 35 could have more influence than they had with 56 members in the last parliament.
Breakfast this morning will have been bitter sweet for Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson who saw a surge in support returning 13 MPs, her party’s best result north of the border since 1983. Those 13 MPs have helped the Tories to remain the largest party in Westminster. Yet it wasn’t enough to help the UK party get over the winning line to a majority.
The general election may be over. But it has raised more questions than it has provided answers.
Click here to see our infographic on How Scotland voted in the 2017 UK General Election.