Shock exit poll predicts devastating blow for SNP and Scottish independence hopes

John Swinney’s party is forecast to lose more than three quarters of its seats

Scottish First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney said the election was on a ‘knife-edge’
Scottish First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney. PICTURE: JANE BARLOW/PA (Jane Barlow/PA)

Support for the SNP has collapsed to its lowest level since 2010, according to the general election exit poll. The poll based on voters’ preferences as they left polling stations put John Swinney’s party on 10 seats – 38 less than it secured in 2019.

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Its predictions come with ‘health warnings’ for Scotland, as the sample size is smaller.

The SNP was widely expected to shed support following 18 months of upheaval that began with Nicola Sturgeon’s shock resignation in February last year.

However, the scale of the predicted losses would represent a huge setback for the party, as well as the campaign for Scottish independence.

Nicola Sturgeon led the SNP to a landslide victory in Scotland in 2015
Former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. PICTURE: JANE BARLOW/PA

Labour is expected to pick up most seats from the SNP, which having been the third largest party at Westminster would lie behind the LibDems and Reform UK in fifth place, if the exit poll’s predictions are accurate.

Reacting to the exit poll, Ms Sturgeon told ITV: “This is not a good night for the SNP on those numbers.”

The former Scottish first minister said that if the poll was correct then it was “at grimmer end of the expectations for the SNP”.

Ms Sturgeon was succeeded by Humza Yousaf but he resigned after little over a year in charge, after losing the confidence of Scottish government partners, the Green Party.

SNP campaign director Stewart Hosie described the prediction as “stark” but added that it was “just an exit poll”.

“In the next few hours, we’ll see how accurate or otherwise it is,” he told the PA news agency.

Asked what such a result could mean for the SNP, Mr Hosie said he was not concerned.

“In 2005, I think we were down to five or six MPs and we went on to win the Holyrood election in 2007,” he said.

“In 2010, I think we returned six and went on to win a majority in Holyrood in 2011.”