SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party had “won more votes and a higher share of the votes in the constituency ballot than any party in the history of devolution”.
Speaking as results were still coming in, Ms Sturgeon said: “This election result is – by any standard – an extraordinary and historic achievement.”
With the SNP now entering a historic fourth term in government at Holyrood, she said her “immediate and over-riding task” would be to focus on the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking about the election result, she said the “majority of people in Scotland back a progressive, inclusive, outward looking vision for the future of our nation”.
Ms Sturgeon contrasted that with the situation south of the border, saying: “Yet we are facing many more years of right-wing Brexit-obsessed Tory governments that we don’t vote for, taking us in a direction we haven’t chosen.”
Scotland’s constitutional question
The First Minister made plain that “just as we said in the election – the people in Scotland must have the right to decide our own future when the Covid crisis has passed”.
The SNP leader insisted: “This is now a matter of fundamental democratic principle.
“Already today, I hear opposition parties – and some commentators – talking about what they call ‘SNP demands’ for an independence referendum.
“They are desperately trying to rewrite the basic rules of democracy and redefine what constitutes an election win and a mandate.”
While the SNP is unlikely to win an overall majority, Green MSPs mean that there will be a majority of MSPs in the next Scottish Parliament who support independence.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The people of Scotland have voted to give pro-independence parties a majority in the Scottish Parliament – the final tally is not yet known, but it looks likely that the pro-independence majority will be larger in this parliament than in the last one.
“The SNP and Scottish Greens both stood on a clear commitment to an independence referendum within the next Parliamentary term.
“And both of us said that the timing of a referendum should be decided by a simple majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. So in no way is a referendum just a demand of me or the SNP.
“It is a commitment made to the people by a majority of the MSPs who will take their seats in our national parliament next week.
“Usually – and by the normal standards of democracy – parties are expected to deliver on the commitments they make in elections, not face attempts to block them from doing so.
“Given the outcome of this election, there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.”
Earlier, the Prime Minister warned that another referendum would be “irresponsible and reckless” in the “current context” as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis.
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