We’re wrapping up this blog now.

Here is a reminder of the key recent developments in the UK’s local elections:

  • The SNP won 64 seats in Holyrood – just short of an outright majority by 1. This is a historic result for the party and – together with the Scottish Greens’ 8 seats – voters have elected a majority of pro-independence candidates. Former SNP leader Alex Salmond’s Alba party failed to win a seat.
  • Boris Johnson invited SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon for crisis talks on the Union after the First Minister warned he would be standing in the way of democracy if he denies Scotland a second independence referendum, PA Media reports.
  • As well as the shock defeat in Hartlepool, Labour a net loss of six councils and more than 200 seats in the local elections, ceding Harrow in Essex to the Tories and losing overall control in Durham in the process.
  • Welsh Labour won 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats, matching the party’s best-ever result. This puts Labour, who gained 1 vote since the last election, just 1 vote away from a majority in Wales’ parliament.
  • Keir Starmer has reportedly hired pollster Deborah Mattinson as Labour’s new director of strategy, an announcement the party made only hours after deputy leader Angela Rayner was sacked as chairman.
  • Starmer sacked Angela Rayner from her roles as party chair and national campaign coordinator – a move that has triggered widespread anger among Labour MPs.
  • London reelected Sadiq Khan as mayor, with the Labour incumbent gaining 55.2% of the total vote. Conservative Shaun Bailey came second with 44.8% – a better result than expected.
  • Labour candidate Marvin Rees was re-elected as Mayor of Bristol, 50,510 votes, or 36.33%.
  • Labour candidate Nik Johnson (51.3%) gained the mayoralty of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, winning the seat from Conservative incumbent James Palmer.
  • There was another gain for Labour in the West of England, which declared Dan Norris mayor with 59.5% of the total vote, while Tory candidate Samuel Williams got 40.5%.
  • In other mayoral races, Labour held Doncaster, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Liverpool city region, North Tyneside and Salford. The Conservatives held Tees Valley and West Midlands.
  • The result of the mayoral race in West Yorkshire has not been declared yet.

Earlier, Nicola Sturgeon pledged to press ahead with plans for a second independence referendum after the Scottish National party won its fourth consecutive Holyrood election, triggering a constitutional battle with Boris Johnson – who responded by invited the SNP leader for crisis talks:

You can find all of the results so far here:

Labour’s Marvin Rees, who was re-elected as Mayor of Bristol tonight, has tweeted that he is “humbled” by the result.

“We’ll keep working together as one city for continued change -- focused on delivering more new jobs and more new affordable homes for #Bristol with inclusion and sustainability at the heart of all we do,” he said.

It's humbling to have been re-elected to serve my home city

We'll keep working together as one city for continued change -- focused on delivering more new jobs and more new affordable homes for #Bristol with inclusion and sustainability at the heart of all we do pic.twitter.com/C3wUUtTVKr

— Marvin Rees (@MarvinJRees) May 8, 2021

Last bit of news of the night #LondonElections
Greens, Lib Dems & Con picked up extra seat each on London Assembly & Labour lost one
So @LondonAssembly line up now 🔴Lab 11 🔵Con 9
🟢Green 3 🟠LD 2
Been a long night! 😴 Signing off from City Hall. Back @BBCRadioLondon from 7 👍 pic.twitter.com/n1X4Ara7Fi

— Susana Mendonça (@susana_mendonca) May 9, 2021

A reminder of where things stand for Labour: As well as the shock defeat in Hartlepool, the party had a net loss of six councils and more than 200 seats in the local elections, ceding Harrow in Essex to the Tories and losing overall control in Durham in the process.

Labour failed to topple Tory mayoral incumbents in the Tees Valley and the West Midlands, although did produce surprise victories in the West of England and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral contests, along with comfortable wins in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.

Richard Burgon MP, former shadow justice secretary and prominent left-wing critic, has called for a “special party conference” to produce a plan to reverse Labour’s polling fortunes in the aftermath of the losses.

PM invites SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon for crisis talks

The Prime Minister has invited SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon for crisis talks on the Union after the First Minister warned he would be standing in the way of democracy if he denies Scotland a second independence referendum, PA Media reports.

The SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in the Scottish parliament elections, securing 64 seats, but the final result still leaves Holyrood with a pro-independence majority.

In her victory speech, Ms Sturgeon told supporters the result proved a second independence vote was the “will of the country” and said any Westminster politician who stood in the way was “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people”.

But Boris Johnson, in a letter to Ms Sturgeon, argued the UK was “best served when we work together” and called for a conversation about “our shared challenges” in recovering from the pandemic.

In a letter shared by No 10, the Prime Minister congratulated Ms Sturgeon on her re-election and said: “I would like to invite you to join me, UK Government colleagues and others at a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them.

“We will all have our own perspectives and ideas - and we will not always agree - but I am confident that by learning from each other we will be able to build back better, in the interests of the people we serve.”

Back to Bristol, here is an interview with the re-elected Mayor, Marvin Rees, from earlier this year:

Here is the moment the result was announced:

BREAKING:

Labours @MarvinJRees has been re-elected as Mayor of Bristol 🔴 pic.twitter.com/9PJ0HR6jzD

— Pete Simson (@SimsonPete) May 8, 2021

Labour hires Pollster Deborah Mattinson as new strategist – report

Sir Keir Starmer has hired a new strategist in a bid to reverse Labour’s election losing streak as recriminations over the party’s local poll performance threatened to boil over, PA reports. We have not yet confirmed this ourselves.

Pollster Deborah Mattinson will join Labour as director of strategy, an announcement the party made only hours after deputy leader Angela Rayner was sacked as chairman.

Ms Rayner’s firing could develop into a full blown internal civil war after Andy Burnham - who won a thumping majority to secure a second term as Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester on Saturday - tweeted: “I can’t support this.”

Mattinson formerly worked as pollster and strategist for the party, advising past leaders including Tony Blair, John Smith and Neil Kinnock before becoming chief pollster to Gordon Brown, first when he was chancellor and then following him into 10 Downing Street.

Following Labour’s 2019 general election defeat under Jeremy Corbyn - the party’s worst performance since 1935 - Mattinson penned a book, Beyond the Red Wall: Why Labour lost, how the Conservatives won and what will happen next?, analysing voter behaviour.

She is due to leave BritainThinks, the research and consultancy company she co-founded in 2010, to take up her role as the party’s strategy director next month.
Mattinson said: “I am very much looking forward to joining Keir Starmer and his team.

“The coming months will be challenging but I will be proud to play a part in helping Labour reconnect with the voters it has lost.”

Updated

Here are the results in detail:

Winner: Marvin Rees (Lab) 50,510 (36.33%, -4.10%)
Sandy Hore-Ruthven (Green) 36,331 (26.13%, +19.00%)
Alastair Watson (C) 25,816 (18.57%, +4.59%)
Caroline Gooch (LD) 15,517 (11.16%, +5.40%)
Sean Donnelly (Ind) 4,956 (3.56%)
Tom Baldwin (TUSC) 3,194 (2.30%, +0.96%)
John Langley (Ind) 1,528 (1.10%)
Robert Clarke (Reform) 806 (0.58%)
Oska Shaw (ND) 389 (0.28%)

Rees is speaking at his old school, which is where the result was announced. “I came here between 1883 and 1990,” he says. “ Some of the kids I went to school with are no longer with us... It ain’t a fair world... We live in one of the most socially immobile places.”

But there “can be hope,” he says.

Rees won with 59276 votes and the runner-up, the Green Party’s Sandy Hore-Ruthven, got 45663 #MayoralElections2021 #LocalElections2021 pic.twitter.com/M75sksAPee

— Amanda Cameron LDR (@AmandaSCameron) May 8, 2021

Labour's Marvin Rees wins Bristol

Labour’s Marvin Rees has just won another term as Bristol’s mayor. He is speaking now:

Rees and Hore-Ruthven have just entered the declaration room according to reporter Amanda Cameron – results any moment.

Marvin Rees and Sandy Hore-Ruthven have just entered the declaration room #MayoralElections2021 #LocalElection2021 pic.twitter.com/wGj3CP3oUC

— Amanda Cameron LDR (@AmandaSCameron) May 8, 2021

The race in Bristol is between Labour candidate and current mayor Marvin Rees and Greens challenger Sandy Hore-Ruthven.

Labour supporters gather ahead of the declaration: Darren Jones MP, Deputy mayor Asher Craig, Cllr Helen Godwin and others #MayoralElections2021 #LocalElections2021 pic.twitter.com/1q5qipxSkU

— Amanda Cameron LDR (@AmandaSCameron) May 8, 2021

The hall is starting to fill up ahead of the Bristol mayor declaration #LocalElections2021 #MayoralElections2021 pic.twitter.com/aZR0Bp9DHZ

— Ellie Pipe (@eekpipe) May 8, 2021

We’re hearing that the Bristol announcement may be coming at 12.30, but as we have seen tonight with London, delays are far from impossible.

Because no candidate emerged with a majority in first preference votes in the race for Bristol mayor, voters’ second choices are now being tallied.

Here are those first preference results again:

  • Marvin Rees (Lab) 50,510
  • Sandy Hore-Ruthven (Green) 36,331
  • Alastair Watson (Con) 25,816
  • Caroline Gooch (Lib Dem) 15,517
  • Sean Donnelly (Independent) 4,95

Updated

When Angela Rayner secured Labour’s deputy leadership, her authentic working-class credentials and respect from the party’s left instantly made her an important figure in Keir Starmer’s vow to reunite after the internal warring under Jeremy Corbyn. Her sacking as party chair, however, risks reopening Labour wounds that are far from healed.

While originally regarded as being on the party’s left flank when she entered parliament in 2015, Rayner has already shown some adept political skill in navigating the years of feuding.

While she was seen as on the party’s left, she was also not regarded as a staunch Corbynite. Even as Corbyn’s shadow education secretary, she managed to dodge much of the warring:

Hi, Helen Sullivan joining you now. I’ll be steering the good ship Ballot for the next little while.

If you’d like to get in touch with news, videos or your most profound thoughts, the best place is on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com.

Updated

Summary of today's results

  • The SNP has won 64 seats in Holyrood – just short of an outright majority by 1. This is a historic result for the party and – together with the Scottish Greens’ 8 seats – voters have elected a majority of pro-independence candidates. Former SNP leader Alex Salmond’s Alba party failed to win a seat.
  • Welsh Labour have won 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats, matching the party’s best-ever result. This puts Labour, who gained 1 vote since the last election, just 1 vote away from a majority in Wales’ parliament.
  • Keir Starmer has sacked Angela Rayner from her roles as party chair and national campaign coordinator – a move that has triggered widespread anger among Labour MPs.
  • London has reelected Sadiq Khan as mayor, with the Labour incumbent gaining 55.2% of the total vote. Conservative Shaun Bailey came second with 44.8% – a better result than expected.
  • Labour candidate Nik Johnson (51.3%) gained the mayoralty of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, winning the seat from Conservative incumbent James Palmer.
  • There was another gain for Labour in the West of England, which declared Dan Norris mayor with 59.5% of the total vote, while Tory candidate Samuel Williams got 40.5%.
  • In other mayoral races, Labour held Doncaster, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Liverpool city region, North Tyneside and Salford. The Conservatives held Tees Valley and West Midlands.
  • Results for the mayoral races in West Yorkshire and Bristol have not been declared yet.
  • Across England, 132 councils have been declared out of a total of 143 so far on the second day of the count.
  • The Tories have won 58 councils – an increase of 12 – while Labour has won 44, a loss of 7. The Lib Dems remain steady with 5 councils, while 25 councils are under no overall control.

That’s all from me for tonight – I’m handing over to my colleague Helen Sullivan. Thanks for following along this evening.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, has become the latest Labour MP to speak out against Keir Starmer’s sacking of Angela Rayner:

I can’t support this.https://t.co/mbmGHaROdL

— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) May 8, 2021

Labour MP Nadia Whittome also criticised the move:

No one person is to blame for these catastrophic results, but if there was it certainly wouldn’t be @AngelaRayner.

Dreadful way to treat the most senior woman directly elected by members in our party, from a working class northern background to boot.

— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) May 8, 2021

Updated

No candidate has emerged with a majority in first preference votes in the race for Bristol mayor, meaning voters’ second choices will now be tallied.

Here are the first preference results:

  • Marvin Rees (Lab) 50,510
  • Sandy Hore-Ruthven (Green) 36,331
  • Alastair Watson (Con) 25,816
  • Caroline Gooch (Lib Dem) 15,517
  • Sean Donnelly (Independent) 4,956

Updated

Sadiq Khan has thanked voters for their support after he was reelected as London mayor.

Khan tweeted: “Thank you London. It’s the absolute honour of my life to serve the city I love for another three years.

“I’ll leave no stone unturned to get our city back on its feet. A brighter future is possible, and we’ll deliver it together.”

Thank you London. It’s the absolute honour of my life to serve the city I love for another three years.

I’ll leave no stone unturned to get our city back on its feet.

A brighter future is possible, and we’ll deliver it together. pic.twitter.com/kwA1awEten

— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 8, 2021

Updated

London reelects Sadiq Khan for mayor

Labour’s Sadiq Khan has been reelected as London mayor following the counting of second preference votes.

Khan will serve a second term after winning a total of 1,206,034 votes (55.2%), while the Conservative candidate, Shaun Bailey, came second with 977,601 (44.8%).

Although Khan was expected to secure a second term, Bailey has performed better than expected, closing in on Labour with 35.3% of the first preference vote while incumbent Khan got 40%.

Updated

The Labour party has lost its majority on Durham council for the first time in 100 years.

The council is now under no overall control.

Bloody hell! Labour have lost *Durham* council - the first the party ever won control of in 1919 - to no overall control. Northern Echo says it's the first time they've lost control for a century.

Tories have gained 13 seats on the council, Labour lost 16

— Dan Bloom (@danbloom1) May 8, 2021

Updated

It is nearly 11pm and we are still waiting for the result for London mayor. Here is what we have so far on first preference votes:

After the first preference votes, Labour’s Sadiq Khan had 1,013,721 (40%) while Conservative Shaun Bailey had 893,051 (35.3%).

Siân Berry of the Green party came third with 197, 976 (7.8%) while the Liberal Democrats’ Luisa Porritt was fourth with 111,796 (4.4%).

Turnout: 42.2%

Updated

Here’s a look at how the papers have responded to the latest round of election results – a mix of SNP’s victory and Angela Rayner’s sacking:

Sunday's Independent: Sturgeon heads for clash with PM on referendum #TomorrowsPapersToday #IndependentOnSunday #Independent pic.twitter.com/HI2usQryTV

— Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) May 8, 2021

Sunday Telegraph: Sturgeon falls short of majority in Scotland as Labour Civil War erupts #TomorrowsPapersToday #SundayTelegraph #Telegraph pic.twitter.com/5p9K3M5bUc

— Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) May 8, 2021

Sunday's Observer: Angela Rayner 'fired' as Labour gripped by post-poll rancour #TomorrowsPapersToday #Observer pic.twitter.com/PH53G2U638

— Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) May 8, 2021

Sunday Express: Boris's plan for brighter Britain #TomorrowsPapersToday #SundayExpress #Express pic.twitter.com/EHGNqgFmfa

— Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) May 8, 2021

Updated

After some delay, Labour has won the City & East London assembly seat, with its candidate Unmesh Desai elected.

This gives Labour nine seats on the London assembly while the Conservatives have five.

Unmesh Desai has been elected as the Constituency London Assembly Member for City and East #LondonVotes pic.twitter.com/ELTa4YkKjK

— London Elects (@londonelects) May 8, 2021

Updated

From the Evening Standard’s Rachael Burford as we wait for the City & East London assembly result:

Reason for the delay here at the City & East - staff found three unopened boxes of votes after everything else had been counted 😬

— Rachael Burford (@RachaelBurford) May 8, 2021

We’re also still waiting for the London mayor result to be announced as second preferences are tallied.

Updated

The result of London’s mayoral election has been delayed until 10pm, according to officials at City Hall.

In Wales, Natasha Asghar has become the first woman from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background to be elected to the Senedd.

She follows her late father, Mohammad Asghar, who was also a member of the Senedd until he died in 2020. He was the first person from a BAME background to be elected to the assembly, as it was then called.

Like her father, Asghar, who is of Pakistani heritage, has become a Conservative member for the the South Wales East region. She told ITV News it felt “absolutely amazing” to be the first BAME female MS. “To be the first woman is just incredible,” she said.

The Electoral Reform Society Wales welcomed the moment but expressed concern it had taken so long and pointed out that the number of female MSs is down to 26 from 29 prior to the 2021 election.

The Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies, said he was “thrilled” that Asghar had made history.

The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, has promised to offer “credible alternative” to the SNP over the next five years, despite the party’s poorest Scottish results since devolution.

The party returned 22 MSPs, down from 24 in 2016.

Sarwar said: “We’re on a journey to build a credible alternative to the SNP.

“Not just oppose the SNP, but to build a credible alternative. And that job doesn’t stop with this election campaign.

“I think even my harshest critics would accept we have run an energetic and enthusiastic campaign, we got Labour back on the pitch.

“That is something for us to build on for the next five years.”

Updated

SNP reemerges as largest Holyrood party with 64 seats

The SNP has again emerged as the largest party at the Scottish parliament with 64 seats – an increase of one since 2016.

The Scottish Conservatives remain in second place on 31, while Labour has 22 seats – a loss of two seats.

The Scottish Greens have eight seats, boosting their previous total by two, and the Liberal Democrats have four – a loss of one.

Although not an outright majority for the SNP, voters have elected a majority and historic number of pro-Scottish independence candidates.

Both the SNP and Scottish Greens had refused to rule out a coalition prior to polling day.

Updated

The SNP are now just one seat short of an overall majority, with 64 seats.

The party won 63 seats in 2016.

Here are the results for the regional list of South Scotland:

  • Con 3
  • Lab 3
  • SNP 1

SNP reach 64 seats with an extra on South of Scotland list

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) May 8, 2021

Updated

Turning to the London assembly, Labour has won eight seats so far, while the Conservatives have three.

The London mayor announcement is expected at around 8:30pm.

Labour:

  • Merton & Wandsworth
  • Enfield & Haringey
  • Greenwich & Lewisham
  • Barnet & Camden
  • Brent & Harrow
  • North East
  • Lambeth & Southwark
  • Greenwich & Lewisham

Conservatives:

  • Havering & Redbridge
  • West Central
  • Bexley & Bromley
London assembly
London assembly Photograph: Guardian

Updated

There is widespread anger at Angela Rayner’s sacking. John McDonnell calls the move a “cowardly avoidance of responsibility”:

Keir Starmer said yesterday that he took full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool & other losses. Instead today he’s scapegoating everyone apart from himself. This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility. https://t.co/HysX0DQn8D

— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) May 8, 2021

From the Guardian’s Jessica Elgot:

Labour MP: “nothing says I take full responsibility better than firing your second in command”

— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) May 8, 2021

Sky’s Sam Coates has this line from a Labour source:

Lab source:

“Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections - and he said we need to change. That means change how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) May 8, 2021

Updated

From LabourList editor, Sienna Rogers:

Labour source has just said: “Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections - and he said we need to change. That means change how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”

— Sienna Rodgers (@siennamarla) May 8, 2021

Angela Rayner sacked as Labour chair after Hartlepool byelection loss

Keir Starmer has sacked Angela Rayner from her roles as Labour’s party chair and national campaign coordinator, after the humiliating loss of the Hartlepool byelection.

The worse-than-expected defeat in Hartlepool, which saw the Conservatives take the seat with a majority of almost 7,000, shocked Starmer’s team and led to recriminations at the top of the party.

Rayner’s status as deputy Labour leader is safe as that is a directly-elected post. But the move has reignited Labour’s civil war, as MPs and activists reacted with shock and dismay.

Updated

From the Guardian’s political editor – we’re working on getting formal confirmation from Labour:

Hearing from several sources that Rayner has been sacked from *both* roles - national campaign coordinator and party chair - but still no formal confirmation from Labour. https://t.co/y4b49cMEXv

— Heather Stewart (@GuardianHeather) May 8, 2021

Updated

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond fails to win seat

Alex Salmond will not return to the Scottish parliament after Alba failed to win a seat on the North East regional list, winning just 8,269 votes.

North East list results:

  • Con: 4
  • Lab: 2
  • Green: 1

NEW: Alex Salmond’s Alba party fails to win a seat on the North East Scotland regional list. Was their best hope.

— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 8, 2021

Updated

More Scottish regional list results coming in, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar keeping his seat in Glasgow.

  • Lab: 4
  • Con: 2
  • Green: 1

PA reports:

The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, has retained his seat on the Glasgow regional list as his party held four seats in the area.

There was no change from the 2016 results, with two Conservatives elected along with Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie.

Labour’s Pauline McNeill held her seat, as did Tory Annie Wells.

Former MP Paul Sweeney will return for Labour while Pam-Duncan Glancy was also elected for the party and Sandesh Gulhane for the Conservatives.

Updated

City Hall has confirmed that London’s mayor will be declared at around 8.30pm, with London Assembly results to follow soon afterwards.

Labour gains mayoralty of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

Labour has gained the mayoralty of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough from the Conservatives, with Nik Johnson elected following the counting of second preference votes.

  • Nik Johnson (Lab): 113,994 (51.3%)
  • James Palmer (Con): 108,195 (48.7%)

Labour's Nik Johnson elected Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor

— Ben Hatton (@BenHattonJourno) May 8, 2021

Updated

Turning to the question of independence, Sturgeon says the majority back a progressive, outward-looking version of the future but face “many years of rightwing, Brexit-obsessed Tory government that we don’t vote for”.

She underlines that once the pandemic is over, “the people of Scotland must have the right to decide our own future”, which she describes as “a matter of fundamental democratic principle”.

The first minister says the SNP will deliver on its campaign pledges, underlining the party’s commitment to the following:

  • remobilisation of NHS
  • new national care service
  • investment to support new green jobs and reskill people
  • a “youth guarantee”
  • action to tackle the climate emergency
  • more housing, better schools and commitment to lifting children out of poverty

Nicola Sturgeon said she met with Syrian refugees in Glasgow who cast their first ballot on Thursday as foreign nationals and refugees were able to vote. She shares out the following message:

“Wherever you are from, whatever age you are, whatever your background – and no matter who you voted for – the SNP in government is dedicated to working for you.”

Nicola Sturgeon is making a statement in light of the SNP’s election results, which she calls “a historic achievement”.

She said:

“When we first entered government back in 2007 we secured just one more seat than the Labour party. Very few people back then could have predicted that 14 years later, the SNP would be reelected for a fourth consecutive term as Scotland’s government.

“We do know that on a record turnout, the SNP is on course to win 62 constituency seats – a higher number than ever before and would be an incredible 85% of the total. We haven’t just held every seat that we won back in 2016, we’ve gained seats from Labour and the Tories and recorded our best ever share of the constituency vote. We have won more votes and a higher share of the vote in the constituency ballot than any party in the history of devolution.

“This result is by any standard an extraordinary and historic achievement.”

Updated

Scotland’s Highlands and Islands regional list has been declared.

  • Cons: 4
  • Lab: 1
  • SNP: 1
  • Greens: 1

From PA:

The Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, has won a seat on the Highlands and Islands regional list. Ross will be joined by returning Tory MSPs Edward Mountain, Jamie Halcro Johnston and Donald Cameron.

The Tories increased their share of MSPs on the list, taking a seat from the Labour party, with only Rhoda Grant returning to Holyrood for the party.

The SNP held a seat in the Highlands won in 2016, with Emma Roddick replacing the children’s minister, Maree Todd, who won the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency on Friday.

The Scottish Greens also maintained their seat in the region, with Ariane Burgess replacing the retiring John Finnie.

Updated

West Midlands reelects Conservative mayor

Conservative incumbent Andy Street has been elected West Midlands mayor with 54% of the vote after second preferences were counted.

Street beat Labour candidate Liam Byrne, who won 46% of the vote.

Street: 314,669 votes in total

Byrne: 267,626 votes in total

Andy Street has been re-elected mayor of the West Midlands after second preference votes counted

— Jessica Murray (@JournoJess_) May 8, 2021

Updated

Scotland’s first list results are out, with Central Scotland declaring the following:

  • Labour 3 (compared with 4 in 2016)
  • Conservative 3 (no change)
  • Green 1 (gain of 1)

First list declaration out - for Central Scotland, it's Leonard (Lab) Kerr (Con), Lennon (Lab), Simpson (Con), Griffin (Lab), Gallacher (Con), Mackay (Green). So three Labour, three Tory, and one Green.

— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) May 8, 2021

Scotland is made up of eight electoral regions, each with seven regional MSPs:

  • Central Scotland
  • Glasgow
  • Highlands and Islands
  • Lothian
  • Mid-Scotland and Fife
  • Northeast Scotland
  • South Scotland
  • West Scotland

Updated

Asked whether it was realistic to have a referendum in the first half of parliament, Nicola Sturgeon said that while getting through the pandemic had to come first, it looked as though it was “beyond any doubt that there will be a pro-independence majority in Scottish parliament”.

She told BBC News: “By any normal standard of democracy that majority should have the commitments it made to the people honoured.

“For any Westminster politician who tries to stand in the way of that, I would say two things: firstly you’re not picking a fight with the SNP, you’re picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people. Secondly, you will not succeed.

“The only people who can decide the future of Scotland are the Scottish people – no Westminster politician can or should stand in the way of that.”

Updated

Hello, I’m Clea Skopeliti and I’ll be bringing you the latest election results as they come in this evening.

You can reach me on Twitter with any updates or results from your area – thanks in advance.

Labour needs "substantial change', says Burnham

Here are the main lines from Andy Burnham’s interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge. It was one of the most interesting on the election programmes all day.

  • Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, did not rule out a bid for the Labour leadership “in the distant future”. (See 4.59pm.)
  • He said Labour needed “substantial change”. He said:

I’m here to help the Labour party, if they need it. But they need to change. Let’s be really clear about this. It can’t be just cosmetic changes that come out of this. There has to be substantial change in the way the Labour party is working. They have lost an emotional connection with parts of the country which is going to take a lot of work to get back. So I think the party has to do a lot of soul-searching to understand these results, and understand why we’ve done well in places like Wales and places like Greater Manchester.

  • He criticised Labour for being “lukewarm” about devolution and said the party needed to back the concept now wholeheartedly. Labour needed “very ambitious” devolution programme, he said. He said:

I want to support Labour nationally by saying ‘Look at what’s happening here.’ Where there is devolution, where there is strong, authentic, connected representation, people are buying into it, and the council results here reflect that.

He also said that he thought the Conservatives had been rewarded in the Tees Valley for their own approach to devolution.

  • He complained that as, mayor of Greater Manchester, he often felt “invisible” to the Labour party in London. As a mayor he had not special role in the leadership election, he said. And he said he did not get a platform at party conference.
  • He said he thought Sir Keir Starmer was better at respecting local government than any of the other four Labour leaders he had worked under (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn).
  • He said that if Boris Johnson was serious about levelling up, he had to make public transport cheaper in the north. He complained that while a bus journey in Haringey cost £1.55, in Harpurhey in Greater Manchester a similar journey cost more than £4.

That’s all from me for today. My colleague Clea Skopeliti is now taking over.

People want more devolution, not less of it, says Burnham

Here is an extract from Andy Burnham’s acceptance speech after he was re-elected as mayor of Greater Manchester. He said:

I will continue to be a voice for all people and all communities. I will continue to adopt a place-first, not party-first approach.

This vote sends a clear message to all Westminster parties. People are buying in to English devolution.

They are telling you to deliver more of it, not less of it. They like us having the ability to do more for ourselves.

They can see how it is making politics work better for them and that is reflected in the council results across Greater Manchester. They value the stronger voice it has given to the north of England.

Don’t give us devolution and be surprised if we answer you back, particularly if you do things here you would never do in London.

Kaukab Stewart will become the first woman of colour to serve as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament after winning the Glasgow Kelvin seat, PA Media reports. PA says:

Stewart held the seat for the SNP with 14,535 votes, succeeding Sandra White.

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie finished second with 9,077 votes.

Scottish Labour picked up 8,605 votes, the Scottish Conservatives 2,850 and the Scottish Liberal Democrats 977.

Stewart earlier told the BBC it had been “a wee bit of a failure of all political parties” that it had taken so long for a woman of colour to be elected as an MSP.

Nicola Sturgeon with SNP candidate with Kaukab Stewart (left) campaigning last month.
Nicola Sturgeon with SNP candidate with Kaukab Stewart (left) campaigning last month. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/PA

Andy Burnham does not rule out bid for Labour leadership 'in the distant future'

In an interview with Sky News Andy Burnham, who has just been re-elected as mayor of Greater Manchester, has just given a strong hint that he has not given up hopes of leading the Labour party.

He was asked if he would still like to lead the party one day, and he said that he was not even an MP, and that his focus was on Greater Manchester. That is the standard response for someone in Burnham’s position to a question like this.

But then he went on:

In the distant future, if the party were ever to feel that it needed me, I’m here and they should get in touch.

When it was put to Burnham that that sounded as if he were still open to the idea of being Labour leader, he replied:

I have tried twice to be the leader and it’s never worked so I’m not under any illusions, if you like. It’s never worked for me in the past. I feel I’m in the best job in the world.

But I’m here to help the Labour party, if they need it.

In his interview he also spoke about how Labour needed to change. I will post those comment shortly.

Updated

Full results from Greater Manchester's mayoral election

Here are the full results from Greater Manchester, where Andy Burnham was re-elected mayor. They are from PA Media.

Andy Burnham (Lab) 473,024 (67.31%, +3.90%)
Laura Evans (C) 137,753 (19.60%, -3.12%)
Melanie Horrocks (Green) 30,699 (4.37%, +2.00%)
Simon Lepori (LD) 22,373 (3.18%, -2.87%)
Nick Buckley (Reform) 18,910 (2.69%)
Stephen Morris (Eng Dem) 9,488 (1.35%)
Marcus Farmer (Ind) 6,448 (0.92%)
David Sutcliffe (ND) 2,182 (0.31%)
Alec Marvel (ND) 1,907 (0.27%)

Electorate 2,057,679; Turnout 702,784 (34.15%, +5.57%)

And here are the results from 2017.

2017: Turnout 566,735 (28.59%)
First Count – Burnham (Lab) 359,352; Anstee (C) 128,752; Brophy (LD)
34,334; Patterson (Green) 13,424; Morris (Eng Dem) 11,115; Odze
(Ukip) 10,583; Aslam (Ind) 5,815; Farmer (Ind) 3,360. Elected: Burnham.

Updated

Labour gain West of England mayoralty from Tories

Labour’s Dan Norris has been elected as the West of England mayor. He replaces a Conservative, making this a rare Labour gain in this set of elections in England.

Updated

Mark Drakeford, the Labour Welsh first minister, has said he hopes Boris Johnson will seek to “reset relationships” with devolved nations. He told PA Media:

This really is a moment that the prime minister should seize to reset relationships across the United Kingdom, for a serious examination of the way in which we can create the machinery that will allow us to work together in the future.

Not an approach that thinks flying more Union Jacks at the tops of buildings, but proper, respectful relationships that recognise that sovereignty is now dispersed across four parliaments in which we choose to pool it for common purposes.

That’s the sort of UK that I think will have the very best chance of surviving, because it will be a UK where people want to be here, rather than are instructed to be.

Updated

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, points out that, even if the SNP does not win an absolute majority, by conventional measures it has still done remarkably well.

The SNP has won the:

✅ Highest number of votes in a Scottish Parliament election

✅ Highest vote share of any UK party for more than half a century

✅ Highest share of constituency seats of any UK party since modern democracy began

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland’s future is Scotland’s choice pic.twitter.com/se8mm77JzP

— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) May 8, 2021

Tory win in Aberdeenshire West dashes hopes of SNP winning absolute majority

In Scotland the Conservatives have held Aberdeenshire West. That means the SNP has no chance of obtaining an absolute majority, the BBC’s Nick Eardley reports.

Confirmed: Last SNP target - Aberdeenshire West - held by Conservatives

V hard to see SNP majority now https://t.co/DAK2OWGPW5

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) May 8, 2021

John Curtice calculates no chance of SNP majority now #BBCElections https://t.co/T0ipw0CIra

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) May 8, 2021

From my colleague Helen Pidd

Andy Burnham is re-elected the mayor of Greater Manchester on an increased vote share: 67% (up from 63% in 2017). pic.twitter.com/BR1IiKfzMI

— Helen Pidd (@helenpidd) May 8, 2021

In his acceptance speech Andy Burnham says that if places like Greater Manchester are given a stronger voice, Westminster should expect those places to use it.

He quotes a report saying there was “cluelessness” in government about what levelling up means. Addressing Boris Johnson, Burnham says he can tell him what it should mean: a better public transport system, with cheaper fares; higher wages; and better homes.

He says the election is a resounding mandate to bring the bus network under public control.

I will post direct quotes from his speech shortly.

Updated

Andy Burnham re-elected mayor of Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham has just been re-elected as Labour’s mayor for Greater Manchester with 67% of the vote.

.@AndyBurnhamGM smashes the GM Mayoral vote with a whopping 67% of the vote! Congratulations pic.twitter.com/v2NkbZP7z9

— Lucy Powell MP (@LucyMPowell) May 8, 2021

Updated

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, has said Alex Salmond should now leave frontline politics. Salmond’s Alba party is not expected to win any seats in the election. Asked if it was time for Salmond to quit, Ross told PA Media:

Yeah. He should never have come back, I said he was a totally unsuitable person to seek elected office again.

He claims - as he has - that he’s been cleared by court cases etc but he accepted his own behaviour fell well below the standard expected of someone in elected office.

And I think it was wrong for him to seek election again and the people of the north-east have been very clear they don’t want him.

Douglas Ross.
Douglas Ross. Photograph: Paul Campbell/Getty Images

Andrew Fisher, who was head of policy for Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour leader, thinks Paul Dennett, the mayor of Salford (see 3.03pm), and Matthew Brown, the Labour leader of Preston council, offer a solution for Labour’s recovery. As the Lancashire Post reports, Labour did better in Preston in these elections than it did nationally.

There's a strategy to win in the North hiding in plain sight for Labour.

It doesn't involve waving more flags, staged beer-drinking, or 'centrist' triangulation.

It involves listening to successful leaders like @MatthewBrownLab & @salford_mayor https://t.co/vFXoSYjmFo

— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) May 8, 2021

UPDATE: My colleague Aditya Chakrabortty wrote a good column about Matthew Brown and Preston three years ago. It’s here.

Updated

In an interview with BBC Scotland Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, was asked if he thought it would strengthen the position of the pro-independence parties in the next parliament (the SNP and the Scottish Greens) if they formed a formal coalition. Harvie said that he did not think that was critical. He went on:

The clear position is that the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland should be respected.

Now if the anti-independence political parties – Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems – between them had a majority in the Scottish parliament by the time the final results have been declared, I would regret it, but I would have to accept that that’s a democratic principle and that a referendum wasn’t going to happen in the new session.

But if there’s a pro-independence majority, all that is needed is that the other political parties accept the same democratic principle.

Patrick Harvie.
Patrick Harvie. Photograph: Robert Perry/EPA

Updated

Sky News has also produced its own calculation about how the parties are doing in terms of overall share of the vote on the basis of the English local elections. According to Sky’s Sam Coates, these figures suggest that if people voted in a general election as they did on Thursday, Boris Johnson would be re-elected with a majority of 48. That is not as large as the one he won in December 2019 (80), but it is still a very good result for a government heading for its mid-term.

NEW

Sky News projections show Lib Dems doing much better eating into Tory vote

Michael Thrasher says that Tories should be delighted by this projection given where we are on the electoral cycle pic.twitter.com/YKxTnDPTpw

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) May 8, 2021

The SNP continue to lead the Holyrood elections, but it is still not clear if they will win an overall majority, PA Media reports. PA says:

Nicola Sturgeon’s party gained three seats during the count on Friday - the only party to take a constituency from another - winning Ayr, Edinburgh Central and East Lothian.

However, uncertainty continued into Saturday, as the wins picked up by the SNP could cause the party to lose regional seats under Holyrood’s system, cancelling out gains made.

With 61 seats declared, the SNP have taken 52, the Scottish Lib Dems four, with the Tories on three and Labour on two.

The coronavirus pandemic meant traditional overnight counts were abandoned after Thursday’s Scottish parliament election.

And while new MSPs at Holyrood have still to be declared, Sturgeon said it is “almost certain” the SNP will win its fourth term in power at Holyrood.

She also stressed that “when the time is right”, she should be able to offer Scots “the choice of a better future” in a second independence referendum.

Updated

Full results from first round of voting in West Midlands mayoral contest

With the West Midlands mayoral election going to a second round of counting (see 3.17pm), the election will now be decided by who Green, Liberal Democrat and Reform UK voters put down as their second preferences.

Here are the full results from the first round of voting, from PA Media.

Andy Street (C) 299,318 (48.73%, +6.80%)
Liam Byrne (Lab) 244,009 (39.72%, -1.03%)
Steve Caudwell (Green) 35,559 (5.79%, +1.09%)
Jenny Wilkinson (LD) 21,836 (3.55%, -2.33%)
Pete Durnell (Reform) 13,568 (2.21%)

It was always anticipated to be one of the most closely fought mayoral races, but polls had predicted a comfortable win for the incumbent, Andy Street.

Andy Street close to winning West Midlands mayoral contest with 49% of first round vote

The West Midlands mayoral result is being announced.

Here are the key figures from the first round of voting:

Andy Street: 299,318 (49%)

Liam Byrne: 244,009 (40%)

That means the election goes to a second round of voting. But, given the margin, it would be extraordinary for Byrne to win now.

Updated

Don’t pretend you aren’t interested in what Andy Burnham is wearing today for what is expected to be a second coronation as mayor of Greater Manchester/King of the North.

He has arrived at the count at Manchester Central dressed in what I’d describe as “classic northern casual”. Despite heavy rain he was not wearing the cagoule in which he delivered one of his defiant anti-government speeches last autumn, but a dark jacket, dark shirt, slim jeans and box-fresh black suede Clarks Wallabees. No tie. Definitely ready for a big soggy night out in one of Manchester’s beer gardens later.

The scale of his victory should be confirmed at around 3.30pm.

Here's Andy Burnham arriving to hear the result of the Greater Manchester mayoral election - just as Paul Dennett has been re-elected Labour mayor of Salford with an increased vote sharehttps://t.co/uyu1W2LPhy pic.twitter.com/DEds5LzS8f

— Manchester News MEN (@MENnewsdesk) May 8, 2021

Updated

Labour mayor of Salford says party has moved away from 'red wall' voters

Paul Dennett, the “sensible socialist” mayor of Salford, has just launched an attack on Sir Keir Starmer after being reelected with 59% of the vote in the Greater Manchester city. His vote share increased by 10% from his first election, in 2016.

Dennett said Labour had failed to come up with an industrial strategy for the “red wall” and instead “embraced the new global economy of finance and services - bleeding yet more life out of the towns where our voters traditionally came from.” He said:

Red wall voters have not moved away from the Labour party. The Labour party has moved away from them.

I ask Keir and our leaders to look not only to Salford but to Greater Manchester under the leadership of Andy Burnham, where our losses have been more limited, and also to examples from progressive councils across the country where our fortunes have not been so bad. To Mark Drakeford’s successes in the Welsh Senedd, to Matt Brown’s continued successes in Preston.

There is a path Labour can take which unites our traditional voters with young, and new voters. It is a path which isn’t ashamed of our party’s radical roots, which taps into our history and tradition, which puts forward a progressive and dynamic vision for a new and inclusive economy in the future. It’s a path which is socialist in its core.

The ‘centre ground’ no longer exists as it once did. The public now expect us to pick a side and articulate a bold, ambitious and progressive vision for the future, which tackles poverty, inequality, whilst placing the needs of working people and families at its core.

Paul Dennett.
Paul Dennett. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Updated

Votes being counted today at the Glasgow counting centre in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.
Votes being counted today at the Glasgow counting centre in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Here are the full results for the Welsh parliament:

Tories have seven-point lead over Labour in local elections, analysis suggests

One measure of who has won the English local elections is which party has gained most seats, or most councils. But every year the elections are in different areas (in some years it is mostly in Tory areas, in others mostly Labour areas), and a different number of seats are up for election, and so if you just look at seats gained, it is hard to compare a party’s performance one year with its performance in other years.

There is another measure available: national share of the vote. Confusingly, this is not the actual share per party of votes cast in an election (which would favour the party defending most seats) but a calculation of what the share would be if the whole of Britain had voted in line with the way people voted in the wards where elections did take place. Psephologists calculate this based on what they know about voting patterns. There is more on how that is done here.

(These figures are based on voting in English local elections. They do not cover the Scottish, Welsh or London elections.)

The BBC produces its “projected national share” (PNS) once it has enough votes to analyse, and it has just broadcast its calculation as of now. Here are the figures:

Conservatives: 36%

Labour Labour 29%

Lib Dems: 17%

Others: 18%

These figure give the Tories a seven-point lead - which is exactly the lead the party had over Labour in opinion polls in April (according to a calculation by the elections expert David Cowling).

If these figures don’t change (and the final calculation will be available when more results are in), this would be Labour’s worst result, on this measure, since 2017, when the Tories had an 11-point lead in the local elections.

In 2019, when local elections were last held, both parties were on 28%.

(Sky News use produce a national vote share estimate, but they use the “national equivalent vote” (NEV), calculated by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher. The PNS and NEV figures are normally slightly different, although they tend to show the same winner, and the same winning margin.

Updated

The Conservative Andy Street has secured a first preference vote lead over Labour’s Liam Byrne in Wolverhampton, with 27,784 votes to Byrne’s 24,989, in the contest for West Midlands mayor.

He has also taken a huge lead in Walsall with 35,010 votes, considerably more than Byrne’s 19,887.

Byrne has secured a win in Labour stronghold Sandwell however, with 33,047 votes, but Street wasn’t too far behind on 27,876.

The final results for the whole West Midlands combined authority are due imminently.

Final Welsh Senedd results give Labour 30 seats, Tories 16, Plaid 13 and Lib Dems 1

The final results for Wales are in, the BBC reports, and it confirms that Welsh Labour has won, with half the seats in the Senedd.

Latest scoreboard for Wales for #Senedd2021 from #BBCElections.
Full results: https://t.co/OEKzJJnwHB pic.twitter.com/IvQWCb4L4u

— BBC Wales Politics (@WalesPolitics) May 8, 2021

Andy Burnham has arrived at his count in Manchester, Sky’s Inzamam Rashid reports.

Andy Burnham has just arrived to the count with his family....
Cheeky hello and foggy glasses on his way in... @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/TJgvOEL32O

— Inzamam Rashid (@inzyrashid) May 8, 2021

Labour’s Liam Byrne has won the most first preference votes in Birmingham for the West Midlands mayoral elections, but other areas have yet to declare.

Byrne took 102,276 votes (48.2%), while the Conservatives’ Andy Street took 84,813 (39.9%).

The Greens were in third with 12,435.

The turnout in the Birmingham area was just 10.7%.

However results from other parts of the combined authority, including Walsall, Wolverhampton, Solihull and Coventry, have yet to be announced, and polls have suggested a win for Street.

Updated

I’m Andrew Sparrow and I’m back, taking over from Molly.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit thinktank, has issued this statement about the latest results from the English local elections. He said:

The big story everyone is focusing on is the shift from Labour to the Conservatives; and yesterday’s results (and this morning’s papers) certainly make grim reading for Labour HQ. But as more results come in we can see that underneath this big picture some more complex local stories are bubbling away.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, while losing seats nationally, have made gains, some of them substantial, in many areas. The Greens have gained seats in places as distinct as Sheffield and Suffolk, while independents, predicted to struggle because of restrictions on campaigning, have also done well from Castle Point to Surrey.

Mark Drakeford promises to be 'radical' and 'ambitious'

Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, has vowed to be “radical” and “ambitious” in government, as Labour looks to solidify its leadership in Wales.

Labour has had its joint best ever Senedd election result, winning 30 seats – just one short of a majority. However, the party is not expected to take any of the remaining four regional seats left which are still to be declared.

What does this mean for leadership in Wales?

If Labour don’t pick up any further seats, Drakeford can either form a minority government, or invite members of other parties into a Labour-led administration. The latter would give them greater control of the Senedd.

Labour’s Vaughan Gething, health minister in the Welsh government, told the BBC the party didn’t “have to look at a formal coalition” because they had done so well.

“We do, however, have to talk to other groups within the Senedd,” he said.

Gething said Labour had a “strong mandate to govern” with 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats.

Wales – thank you for going red pic.twitter.com/Tz4PcsIl0y

— Mark Drakeford 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 (@MarkDrakeford) May 7, 2021

What’s next for Mark Drakeford?

Drakeford told PA news agency he would continue his cautious approach to the coronavirus pandemic - but that he had a “radical manifesto”.

Asked by PA news agency if he would continue his “cautious brand of politics” during his new term, he said:

Well, absolutely as far as coronavirus is concerned. The pandemic has not gone away. A government I lead will continue to follow the science to do what our medical advisers tells us we should do, and that does mean doing things in a way that continues to keep Wales safe,” he said.

But on other matters, our manifesto is a radical manifesto with a host of ideas that are ambitious for Wales. I’ll be very keen to ensure that we give that the most powerful sense of momentum behind it to get those things happening here in Wales.

Updated

The Observer’s policy editor, Michael Savage, has this update on the London mayoral election:

Sadiq Khan is on course to be re-elected as mayor of London for a second term, after a victory that is set to be less emphatic than predicted after a late increase in support for his Conservative opponent.

By late morning, Khan was ahead in five of seven remaining areas. He had an overall lead, with 40% of the vote compared with 36% for the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey. The lead could grow, however, as counts continue in more strongly pro-Labour areas. Labour sources in London reported that the race had become tighter in the closing stages, with both Khan’s support for low-traffic neighbourhoods and rising crime being issues raised by voters.

As recently as March, polls had given Khan a huge 25-point lead over Bailey, handing him 53% of the vote. That would have resulted in him winning outright on the first round of counting, without the need to count the second preferences of voters. However, polls closed in recent weeks suggested the issue of crime had dented his lead.

Some Labour figures accused Khan of complacency, adding that the party had been lucky that in Shaun Bailey, the Tories had chosen a weak candidate who proved unable to make a bigger impression.

Updated

Uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic has led people to vote for parties they are familiar with, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson has said. Michael Marra told Sky News:

I think what we are seeing is people voting for incumbent governments.

In Wales, it’s really interesting to see quite how strong the result has been for Labour in Wales, and London with Sadiq Khan, and then the Tories in England and the SNP in Scotland.

So there’s a big case of “as you were” across the UK in this regard. I think that at a time of real uncertainty for people because of the Covid situation, people have backed the governments that have been in place, the ones that they know.

Updated

The turnout in the Scottish parliamentary elections is the highest ever, Sky News reports.

The latest figures put turnout at 63.7%.

West of England mayor election going to a second round

The closely contested mayoral election in the West of England is going to a second round of counting, as no candidate crossed the threshold for an outright win.

The two leading candidates are Labour’s Dan Norris, who received 84,434 votes, and the Conservatives’ Samuel Williams, who received 72,415.

This means Labour took 33.4% of the votes, and the Conservatives 28.6%.

The Green party’s Jerome Thomas came in third in the first round with 54,919 votes (21.7% of the vote share) and Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams in fourth with 41,193.

Now, the second preference votes of the candidates eliminated so far will be considered to determine the winner.

Updated

Counting is under way in Leeds. The council shared this update with a photograph of the proceedings:

Counting in full swing at Leeds's first direct arena as the local elections are decided, a huge thank you as always to all those helping with this important work #LeedsElects pic.twitter.com/KHQzxut19c

— Leeds Council News (@LeedsCC_News) May 8, 2021

Updated

Our Scotland correspondent, Libby Brooks, has this analysis of the election results and what this could mean for Scottish independence:

With all the ongoing speculation about whether the SNP can secure an outright majority of seats at Holyrood, it’s worth repeating that the proportional Scottish voting system was very much designed not to deliver a majority for any one party, to break with the two party see-saw at Westminster.

There’s now some chatter that only a SNP majority would mean a mandate for a second independence referendum. Throughout the campaign, there’s been an assumption that a pro-independence majority at Holyrood could be made up of Scottish Greens (and possibly Alba, though this is looking increasingly unlikely as the votes come in) MSPs as well as SNP members.

So it’s worth checking what the relevant manifestos say.

According to the SNP manifesto: “If the SNP is returned to government and there is a simple majority in the Scottish parliament for [the referendum] bill after the election there can be no moral or democratic justification for Boris Johnson or any Westminster government to obstruct the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.”

While the Scottish Greens state: “The legislation covering all aspects of the referendum, including the question and the timing, should be decided by a simple majority of the Scottish parliament. The Scottish Greens will campaign and vote for a referendum within the next parliamentary term...”

So it’s clear that, for the parties themselves, a simple majority of pro-independence MSPs equals a mandate for a second independence referendum. And that’s before we get into questions of vote share: it looks like the SNP is currently standing at 47.2%, which is more than both Scottish Tories and Labour combined.

Updated

Steve Rotheram wins Liverpool City Region metro mayor election

Steve Rotheram has declared victory in the metro mayor election in the Liverpool City Region:

Massive thank you to everybody who has put your faith in me to continue as @UKLabour's Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

It's a massive vote of confidence in the power of devolution and the work I've done so far - now the government has to back further devo. #NoOneLeftBehind pic.twitter.com/yoPeGJS7bB

— Steve Rotheram (@MetroMayorSteve) May 8, 2021

And it was a clear win, with Rotheram taking 58% of the vote. According to Liverpool City Council, the breakdown of the votes in the election was as follows:

Gary Cargill (Green) - 40,211

Jade Marsden (Conservative) - 66,702

David Newman (Lib Dem) - 35,049

Steve Rotheram (Labour) - 198,726

The turnout was just 30.35%.

#Elections2021 | Breakdown of votes for each @LCRCityRegion Metro Mayor candidate:

Gary Cargill (Green) - 40,211
Jade Marsden (Con) - 66,702
David Newman (Lib Dem) - 35,049
Steve Rotheram (Lab) - 198,726
TURNOUT: 30.35% pic.twitter.com/uNIazToRq7

— Liverpool City Council (@lpoolcouncil) May 8, 2021

Updated

My colleague Jessica Murray has this update in the West Midlands mayoral election:

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has predicted Conservative Andy Street will win the West Midlands mayor election comfortably on first preference votes alone.

According to their polling, conducted by Opinium, Street predicted take 54% of first preference votes compared to 37% for Labour’s Liam Byrne.

Once second preferences are taken into account, Street’s lead grows from 17 to 18 points, winning 59 per cent to 41 per cent.

When Street was elected to the role in 2017, he only narrowly beat Labour by less than 4,000 second preference votes.

The result is due to be announced later this afternoon.

Hi everyone, I’m Molly Blackall, taking over the blog for a little while.

If you spot any updates or results coming in from your area, feel free to let me know on Twitter.

Updated

Turning away from the elections for a moment, the Ulster Unionist party leader Steve Aiken has announced his intention to resign. In a letter to the party chairman, Aiken wrote: “To achieve our goals, we now need new leadership.”

The UUP is no longer a major force in Northern Ireland politics. But Aiken’s move follows the announcement last week by Arlene Foster that she was resigned as DUP leader and first minister.

My colleague Molly Blackall is taking over the blog for a bit now. I will be back later.

Labour’s Norma Redfearn re-elected as North Tyneside mayor

Labour’s Norma Redfearn has been re-elected as mayor of North Tyneside on the first count. She got 53% of the vote, beating the Conservative, Steven Robinson, who was on 31%.

In 2017 Redfearn won on the first round with 56%.

The breakdown of the votes was as follows:

APPLEBY John Christopher - Liberal Democrat: 3,549

REDFEARN Norma - Labour Party 33,119

REMFRY Penny - Green Party: 4,278

ROBINSON Steven Paul - The Conservative Party: 19,366

THOMSON Jack James - UKIP 1,753

Mayoral Election

APPLEBY John Christopher - Liberal Democrat 3,549

REDFEARN Norma - Labour Party 33,119

REMFRY Penny - Green Party 4,278

ROBINSON Steven Paul - The Conservative Party 19,366

THOMSON Jack James - UKIP 1,753 pic.twitter.com/DN73nwIJWO

— North Tyneside Council (@NTCouncilTeam) May 8, 2021

Updated

Sky’s Sam Coates is sceptical of the Labour announcement that it is going to hold a policy review. (See 10.54am.)

Labour say they're going to do a policy review.

(Was it really not reviewing policies before? Is this a can-kicking exercise managing left wing calls to embrace Corbyn policy agenda?)

Frontbenchers worry Starmer's performance y'day responding to local elections was 'bizarre' https://t.co/DTtzaW8pBN

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) May 8, 2021

Ballot papers being counted in Aberdeen, Scotland, this morning.
Ballot papers being counted in Aberdeen, Scotland, this morning. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Scottish voters rejected Tories' anti-referendum platform, says SNP minister

Kate Forbes, the finance secretary in the Scottish government, told BBC News that voters in Scotland would not get a second independence referendum immediately. When it was put to her that because of the pandemic independence supporters would have to wait for a referendum, she replied:

That’s right. We have said that the priority right now is steering the country through this crisis and emerging from the pandemic.

But when asked if that meant she agreed with Boris Johnson, who told the Daily Telegraph that he was opposed to a referendum being held “in the current context” (see 8.03am), she replied:

I don’t think that’s what Boris Johnson is saying ... I what he’s saying is there will be no referendum because he’s scared of the result.

What we’re saying is that our priority is managing the crisis, but it’s important that the people of Scotland have another say over their long-term future.

And I remind you that the Conservatives did campaign on a single issue, which was no to a second independence referendum. They have three seats to our 40. And I think that tells a story of its own.

Earlier her Scottish government colleague John Swinney said he thought Johnson’s use the of formula “in the current context” indicated that there might be scope for agreement between Edinburgh and Westminster on the timing of the referendum. (See 8.48am.)

Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes. Photograph: BBC News

Updated

Counting has begun of the 714,745 votes cast in the Greater Manchester mayoral election, with incumbent Andy Burnham widely expected to win the poll, PA Media reports. PA says:

Burnham won 63.4% of the votes cast in 2017 and turnout is up around 5% on the last election, to 34.74%.

The outcome of the first round of voting is expected around 3pm, although with Burnham running for a second term and nine candidates in all, the election could go to a second round, with second preference votes also then counted to decide the winner.

According to the BBC, Labour sources in the West Midlands fear that Andy Street, the Conservative mayor, could be re-elected on the first ballot. That will happen if he gets more than 50% of the vote. Mayors are elected using the supplementary vote system which means that if no candidate gets 50% on first preferences, the second preferences who fail to make the top two are taken into account.

Ballot papers being counted in Aberdeen, Scotland, this morning.
Ballot papers being counted in Aberdeen, Scotland, this morning. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Although Labour has been losing council seats in England, and it lost the Hartlepool parliamentary seat to the Conservatives for the first time in more than 60 years, in Wales it has been doing well. Here is an extract from a briefing that Welsh Labour sent out overnight.

Welsh Labour has once again confounded expectations, on course to hit 30 seats once Mid and West Wales regional votes are announced - while outperforming all pre-election polls and breaking new ground.

After 22 years in government, Welsh Labour were given a resounding vote of confidence, and will now form their sixth consecutive government since the advent of devolution.

The briefing note also credits the party with defeating Plaid Cymru in Rhondda and Llanelli, cutting Tory majorities in Monmouth and West Wales and getting swings from both Plaid and Tories.

Labour has currently 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd. There are list seats still to be decided, but none of them are expected to go to Labour. But, as this chart from an Institute for Government briefing shows, 30 seats matches Labour’s best performances (in 2003 and 2011) in the previous five elections under devolution.

Previous results for the Welsh assembly/parliament
Previous results for the Welsh assembly/parliament. Photograph: IfG/Institute for Government

As many commentators have been pointing out, the Welsh results are further evidence that these elections have seen incumbents - or, more probably, administrations associated with delivering the vaccine rollout - doing well.

Updated

The husband of Woman F, one of two female civil servants to originally accuse Alex Salmond of sexual harassment, has given a powerful interview to the Daily Record in which he describes in graphic detail the effect of the former first minister standing in the Holyrood election on his wife.

He tells the Record:

It has been impossible to move on with our day-to-day lives. My wife had always been driven in work and in life but is now a shadow of her former self, incapacitated by depression.

Talking about the vicious trolling endured by his wife, and indeed all those women who give evidence about Salmond’s alleged behaviour at his trial last March, he explains:

The social media attacks were like a black hole we were sucked into. It felt like watching my wife self-harm when she was glued to a screen reading abusive comments. She has been bullied by thousands of people she has never met who are hiding behind the shield of the internet.

Updated

This is from James Vincent, BBC Yorkshire’s political editor.

So - Rotherham counted 14/25 wards yesterday - the rest today...
As it stands - Labour has 18 cllrs - Conservatives 15 cllrs
Before yesterday the Conservatives didn't have any cllrs on Rotherham council

— James Vincent (@BBCJamesVincent) May 8, 2021

Stephen Gethins, the former SNP MP, has posted a useful thread on Twitter, rebutting the claim that the party would need an absolute majority at Holyrood to have a mandate for an independence referendum. He makes the point that, while first past the post at Westminster allows the government to implement policies without majority public support (“in 2015 David Cameron delivered an EU referendum after winning less than 37% of the vote”), the Scottish PR system was specifically designed to ensure that parties work together to implement measures that have majority support.

So the system was deliberately set up to ensure that mandates are linked to parliamentary majorities, not single party majorities, he points out.

The thread starts here.

I get that this is not something you can compare. Just a bit of perspective when we hear of what counts as a ‘winning’ margin.

— Stephen Gethins (@StephenGethins) May 8, 2021

And here are some of his tweets.

Scotland has a proportional system which is far superior to the Westminster winner takes all First Past the Post in my opinion. It makes winning a majority fiendishly difficult. That was the point

— Stephen Gethins (@StephenGethins) May 8, 2021

It means that you have to take other parties views into greater account than at Westminster. This makes being in Government harder but governance better

— Stephen Gethins (@StephenGethins) May 8, 2021

It also means that if you have a majority of parties in favour of an Independence Referendum then that is a legitimate expression of the will of the people. You cannot treat Green votes as pro-Union when they stood on an explicitly pro-independence platform

— Stephen Gethins (@StephenGethins) May 8, 2021

Updated

According to Sky’s Joe Pike, the regional ballot papers in Glasgow are two feet long.

Fun fact:

The Glasgow regional ballots are two feet long.

To accommodate the 22 parties and candidates.

Difficult for the counters to unfurl. And difficult for activists to sample.#SP21 pic.twitter.com/hORy8HTT6C

— Joe Pike (@joepike) May 8, 2021
Votes being counted at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, this morning.
Votes being counted at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, this morning. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

From ITV’s Paul Brand

Talking to SNP today it’s pretty clear their strategy for a second referendum will involve a strong international dimension - hoping PM will be embarrassed by other nations into respecting their mandate. Expect to see SNP ministers flying to foreign capitals in coming months.

— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) May 8, 2021

Votes being counted this morning for the Scottish parliamentary elections at the Ingliston Highland Centre, Edinburgh.
Votes being counted this morning for the Scottish parliamentary elections at the Ingliston Highland Centre, Edinburgh. Photograph: Lesley Martin/PA

In an interview with BBC News Lorna Slater, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said that if a majority of MSPs in the new parliament back an independence referendum - as will be the case, even if the SNP does not win an outright majority, because her party supports independence - there will be a mandate for one. She told the programme:

We’re looking at it as a democratic process. The referendum we had in 2014 was granted by David Cameron because he saw that there was a clear democratic mandate for it, and there will be another clear democratic mandate this time. What kind of country are we if we ignore that kind of democratic mandate anyway.

She also said she thought Boris Johnson was opposed to a referendum because he knew he would lose.

Asked when she wanted the referendum to take place, Slater said her manifesto said during this parliament. She said her personal view was that it had to be after the pandemic was over, so that people could campaign properly.

Lorna Slater
Lorna Slater. Photograph: BBC News

Updated

This is from the Herald’s Tom Gordon on the Aberdeenshire East result. (See 10.57am.)

Big surge in Tory vote in Abdnshire East on top of Donside doesn't bode well for SNP challenge in Aberdeenshire West

— Tom Gordon (@HTScotPol) May 8, 2021

And this is from the BBC’s Nick Eardley.

SNP hold Aberdeenshire East

But note the swing to Tories of 6.1%. SNP need swing to them if they're going to take Aberdeenshire West.#BBCElections https://t.co/yWZmscGMpA

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) May 8, 2021

From Sky’s political editor, Beth Rigby

On way to Edinburgh. Pathway to outright majority for SNP narrowed but source says "door is still partially open" if SNP takes Aberdeenshire West from Tories + another seat. SNP at pains too to point out that even without outright majority, still heading for pro-indy majority

— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) May 8, 2021

The SNP has held Aberdeenshire East, but with a reduced majority. Here are the full results from PA Media.

Gillian Martin (SNP) 18,307 (44.63%, -1.16%)
Stewart Whyte (C) 16,418 (40.02%, +11.03%)
Conrad Wood (LD) 3,396 (8.28%, -10.74%)
Graeme Downie (Lab) 2,900 (7.07%, +0.87%)
SNP maj 1,889 (4.60%)
6.10% swing SNP to C
Electorate 64,059; Turnout 41,021 (64.04%, +8.74%)
And here is the 2016 result here.

2016: SNP maj 5,837 (16.80%) - Turnout 34,753 (55.30%)
Martin (SNP) 15,912 (45.79%); Clark (C) 10,075 (28.99%); Jardine (LD)
6,611 (19.02%); Flavell (Lab) 2,155 (6.20%)

Updated

Labour set for 'root and branch policy review', shadow home secretary says

In an interview on the Today programme this morning Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said that Labour should respond to the election results by accelerating the pace of change. He said there should be a “root and branch policy review” so Labour could have a “bold, credible offer” at the next election.

Asked if this meant ditching the Corbynite policies that Sir Keir Starmer promised to keep when he was running for leader, Thomas-Symonds replied:

No, I think that’s not the analysis I would use.

There are things that were in previous manifestos will always be Labour manifestos; for example, reform of social care which this government is notably failing on, which is a huge challenge.

Secondly, something like addressing climate change, the great challenge of our age.

It is not so easy as to just say you ditch this manifesto or that manifesto. It is accepting that the pandemic has made this dramatic change to our politics. We have to then re-imagine that economy, post pandemic.

Nick Thomas-Symonds.
Nick Thomas-Symonds. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

Updated

Counting for the Senedd election continuing at the Cardiff City House of Sport this morning.
Counting for the Senedd election continuing at the Cardiff City House of Sport this morning. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

English council election results have started coming in again this morning, after counting stopped overnight. Within the last few minutes we have had confirmation that the Conservatives have held Rushmoor and Reigate & Banstead. You can follow the results on our tracker here.

The most striking headline from the papers (see 10.02am) perhaps is the one on the Times’ splash (paywall) saying Boris Johnson is “preparing for a decade-long premiership after a series of historic victories in Labour’s former heartlands”. The story quotes unnamed cabinet ministers saying Johnson’s premiership could last even longer than Margaret Thatcher’s 11 years. It says:

Cabinet ministers suggested that Johnson could become one of Britain’s longest-serving prime ministers. One said: “It seems to me to be more than just a short-term rejection of Labour. It looks fairly permanent.”

Another said: “Labour haven’t represented working-class patriotic voters for a while. They’re too woke, too Islington metropolitan elite. They’re becoming a London party. Boris is a unique politician. If he wants he could do what Thatcher did and then some.”

A third cabinet minister said that only an “idiot” would challenge Johnson, adding: “It’s really important that the Conservatives win the culture wars and don’t ignore them.”

These cabinet ministers may be right. But it is worth remembering that political majorities can evaporate very quickly. Four years ago the Conservatives won a big victory in the local elections. They were 11 points ahead of Labour in terms of national share of the vote, which was remarkable for a party that had been in government for seven years. But a month later, in the general election, they were just two points ahead of Labour and May lost her majority.

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, made this point at the end of a long Twitter thread yesterday, suggesting it’s a mistake to assume outcomes are inevitable.

Politics is always more contingent, more branching histories that nearly happen, & less 'inevitable' & less 'strategy', than the fairy tales you are given by the media... remember, the world in which neither Brexit nor Trump happened v nearly existed... ENDS

— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) May 7, 2021

Updated

How the papers have covered the results so far

Here is a selection of newspaper front pages this morning showing how the papers are interpreting yesterday’s results.

TIMES: PM eyes decade in power #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/YZW4o4bz75

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 7, 2021

MAIL: The day ⁦@BorisJohnson⁩ blew up Labour #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/n4fZmOZtnC

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 7, 2021

TELEGRAPH: PM: No new Scottish referendum #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/eZRzGV0slI

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 7, 2021

FT WEEKEND: Johnson rides ‘vaccine bounce’ #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/IMePeObXSQ

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 7, 2021

RACING POST: Search for an Epsom star #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/WBPHFsDdHa

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 7, 2021

SCOTSMAN ON SATURDAY: SNP Majority on a knife edge after key wins #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/ZnyMbJv7JU

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 8, 2021

THE NATIONAL: Yes on track! #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/VLxAv2pbC1

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) May 7, 2021

Updated

On the Today programme this morning Prof Sir John Curtice, the elections specialist, said there was clear evidence of tactical voting in Scotland by opponents of independence. He said:

Despite the claims of the unionist parties that voters were much more concerned about the pandemic, actually what these results reveal is the extent to which voters were concerned about the constitutional question.

One way in which that was realised was the extent of tactical voting. Particularly in those seats that both Conservatives and Labour were defending, there is pretty clear evidence that where the Conservatives have been lying third, they switched to Labour, and where Labour was lying third, they switched towards the Conservatives.

It’s also reviewed, of course in the high turnout. This is going to be a record high turnout for a Scottish parliament election.

So, whatever else we take away from this election, I think we have to take away, first, that Scotland really is ... concerned about the constitutional question. And secondly, probably when all the votes are counted, it’s going to underline that this country is pretty much evenly divided between supporters of independence and supporters the union, much as the opinion polls have been telling us for quite a while.

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative’s finance spokesman, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland this morning that his party had been affected by people voting tactically for other pro-union parties. But he said he was confident the Conservatives would retain their place as the second largest party in the parliament. He said:

The early indications are that we have polled very strongly in terms of the regional vote and I would expect that will mean we will come back very close to where we were in 2016 in terms of the number of seats, maybe slightly down, maybe slightly up ...

Our regional list vote may well even be up on where it was in 2016, and that should translate into seats.

Murdo Fraser.
Murdo Fraser. Photograph: Ken Jack/Getty Images

Counting has started again in the Scottish parliament election, PA Media reports. PA says:

With 47 constituency results declared on Friday, the SNP had 38 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two.

Some constituencies are still to be counted on Saturday, when the crucial regional list results will also be declared.

Minister says it's easier for government to work 'constructively' with Tory councils

Last week, when the Conservative MP Sir David Amess found out that he was quoted on a Tory election leaflet saying the government was more likely to “go that extra mile” for an area with a Tory council than an opposition-led one, he insisted that the quote had been issued without his approval. No 10 also firmly denied the claim that the government discriminated against areas that did not vote Conservative.

But this morning George Eustice, the environment secretary, may have revived suspicions that some sort of favouritism does apply. In an interview on the Today programme, it was put to him that people may have been voting for Conservative councillors because they that a Tory authority would be more likely to get money out of the government. Asked if that was true, Eustice replied:

It is the case that if you’ve got a Conservative council - and in Cornwall where I come from we’ve they have now just elected a Conservative council - where you’ve got Conservative MPs and the Conservative government and a council, it is much easier for them to work together in partnership in a constructive way. So, yes, that’s a factor.

When it was put him that that sounded like a ‘Vote Tory or lose out’ threat, Eustice replied:

No, no, no, it’s not a threat at all. When it comes to things like funding decisions, these are all done based on objective criteria, and of course governments work with councils and devolved administrations whatever their political composition.

But I think people locally may take the view that it’s good for people to work together in partnership, and at times like this, as we deal with a pandemic, having a local authority that works constructively with government to find a way out of it, well that’s a positive thing.

It is not hard to see why people might think the government favours Conservative administrations. At the time of the budget, decisions about allocating money through the towns fund and through the levelling up fund were seen as biased in favour of Tory constituencies.

George Eustice.
George Eustice. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

SNP says it does not need absolute majority to have mandate for second referendum because of Greens' stance

Here are the key quotes from John Swinney’s interview on the Today programme.

  • Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, said that it would be “very, very challenging” for the SNP to get an overall majority. He said he did not know yet whether it would be possible, but it would be “incredibly close”, he said.
  • He rejected claims that the SNP needed an absolute majority to have a mandate to hold a second independence referendum. Asked if he accepted that, with an absolute majority, the SNP would not have a democratic mandate for another referendum, Swinney replied:

I don’t accept that proposition because I think what that question comes down to is what’s the composition of the Scottish parliament, and who tried to get elected to it. And I’m very confident of two things.

One, that the SNP will be the leading party after the elections. It is very clear that’s going to be the case.

And secondly, I’m certain there will be a majority in the Scottish parliament of people who are committed to the holding of an independence referendum on the future of Scotland.

Swinney rejected the suggestion that Scottish Green MSPs did not count in this regard because people might have voted Green because they cared about the climate crisis, not independence. He said the Scottish Greens backed referendum in their manifesto.

  • He played down the prospects of a clash with Boris Johnson over holding a referendum. He said the SNP did not want to hold one while it was still managing the Covid pandemic, and he pointed out that in his Telegraph interview this morning Johnson said he was opposed to a referendum “in the current context”. (See 8.03am.) He went on:

We said that we would have a referendum once we’ve got the current context of Covid under control, and that’s perhaps the point of agreement that we can take forward with the prime minister in due course.

Will Tanner, from the conservative thinktank Onward, says Swinney did not say whether or not the SNP would legislate for a referendum while Covid was still a threat.

John Swinney seemingly clear that the SNP won't push a referendum until the "current context of Covid" is dealt with. Wish @bbcnickrobinson had pushed him on whether that meant no Indy legislation will be brought before the Scottish Parliament until the pandemic is over.

— Will Tanner (@Will_Tanner) May 8, 2021
  • He said he hoped a supreme court case would not be needed to decide whether or not Scotland is allowed to hold a second referendum. He said he hoped that Johnson would accept the democratic case for one.
John Swinney.
John Swinney. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Q: What will you do if Boris Johnson refuses to allow a second referendum?

Swinney says Johnson is not “some overlord”. He says Johnson should accept the democratic will of the Scottish parliament.

Q: So that means a court case, does it?

Swinney says that would not be necessary if Johnson accepted the will of the Scottish parliament.

John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, is being interviewed on the Today programme now. Nick Robinson is interviewing him.

Q: Do you accept you won’t get an overall majority?

Swinney says it is clear the SNP will be the largest party. It was always going to be “very, very challenging” to get an absolute majority.

Q: Do you accept that if you don’t have an absolute majority, you do not have a mandate for independence?

Swinney says he does not. He says what matters is the composition of the parliament.

Q: But what if someone voted Green because of climate change, not independence?

Swinney says independence was set out in the Greens’ manifesto.

Updated

Good morning. Many of the votes cast on “Super Thursday” are still being counted and today there will be particular focus on Scotland, where the SNP will win - but with its chances of having an absolute majority now looking slim. This is what Prof Sir John Curtice, the leading psephologist, told the Today programme this morning about the state of the contest in Scotland.

There is still a chance but in truth it’s a remote chance. It rests on whether or not the SNP can pick up Galloway and Aberdeenshire West, these two Conservative-held marginal seats, but those do look more like a long shot.

And it also depends on whether or not they can pick up a couple of list seats, one in the Highlands and one in the south of Scotland. But they would need to get at least three of those four seats in their lap and the truth is, on the evidence of what we’ve seen so far, they will be lucky to make it.

So we’re probably not looking at an SNP overall majority.

But there will be a majority of pro-independence MSPs, ie the SNP and the Greens in combination.

Unionists argue that, without an absolute majority, Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister, would find it harder to claim that she has a mandate to call a second independence referendum. But nationalists argue that what counts is having a majority of MSPs in favour of independence and, as Curtice says, this outcome is certain.

Last night Sturgeon said that, with a majority of MSPs backing independence, it would be “absurd” to argue that Scotland should not have a referendum. She said:

If this was in almost any other democracy in the world it would be an absurd discussion.

If people in Scotland vote for a pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament, no politician has got the right to stand in the way of that.

But Johnson has restated his opposition to allowing one. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said:

My impression was that they [the SNP] moved away from the idea of a referendum, and I think very wisely.

Because I don’t think this is anything like the time to have more constitutional wrangling, to be talking about ripping our country apart, when actually people want to heal our economy and bounce forward together. That’s what people want.

However Johnson has not categorically ruled out ever allowing a second referendum, and when the Telegraph asked him if it was true that privately he has said he would never sanction one, Johnson just replied: “I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless. Let me leave it at that.”

Today we are expecting this argument to develop as counting continues in Scotland.

But we are also getting another slew of election results for councils and mayoral contests in England, including the elections for mayors in London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and results are still being counted in Wales.

Here is our results tracker with the results so far.

And you can read our entire elections coverage here.

I’m afraid we’re having to launch with the comments turned off, but we should be able to turn them on later.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Updated

Contributors

Helen Sullivan (now); Clea Skopeliti ,Andrew Sparrow and Molly Blackall (earlier)

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