SNP retain Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, amid a night of election surprises

WHFP DEBATE - IAN BLACKFORD 2 adj
Ian Blackford admitted results had been ‘disappointing’ for the SNP

The SNP retained the Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Na h-Eileanan an Iar seats – but on a much-reduced share of the vote – during a night of surprises at the General Election.

Angus Brendan MacNeil and Ian Blackford both held off challenges from Labour, Tory and LibDem candidates as the SNP – who had won 56 Scottish seats at the 2015 election – saw their Westminster representation fall to 35 MPs.

In Ross, Skye and Lochaber Ian Blackford saw his share of the vote fall by over seven per cent, but won with a majority of nearly 6,000 ahead of the Conservatives. Tory candidate Robert MacKenzie polled over 9,500 votes – an increase in share of 18 per cent on 2015 – on a night when his party made significant gains in Scotland but lost their overall Commons majority.

LibDem Jean Davis was third and polled just over 8,000 votes in the seat formerly held by the late Charles Kennedy.

Although the SNP’s vote share fell by 13 per cent, Angus MacNeil retained the Na h-Eileanan an Iar seat he has held since 2005. He staved off the challenge of Labour’s Ealasaid MacDonald to win by just over 1,000 votes in what is the UK’s least populated constituency. The Tory vote rose by eight per cent as Dan McCroskie polled over 2,000 votes to take third place.

The SNP may have returned the highest number of Scottish MPs, but Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford admitted the results had been ‘disappointing’ for his party.

He told the Free Press he had fought his campaign on local issues, and in the coming days his party would need to ‘reflect’ on their decision to campaign for a second Independence referendum.

“The biggest miscalculation of the election has been made by Theresa May,” added Mr Blackford, who has been tipped as potential SNP Westminster leader, after Angus Robertson lost his seat in Moray to the Tories.

The Conservatives won 13 Sottish seats, but Labour confounded expectations to make gains in Scotland and England to ensure a hung parliament.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election, in a bid to increase her majority, back fired and while the Tories remain the biggest party at Westminster it seems likely they will need support from The DUP in Northern Ireland in order to form a Government.