Johnson Calls for U.K. Talks After Scottish Nationalists Win

London -
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar arrives for a TV interview at the Glasgow Count, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, May 8, 2021. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday invited the leaders of the U.K.’s devolved nations for crisis talks on the union after Scotland’s pro-independence party won its fourth straight parliamentary election.

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, said the election results proved that a second independence vote for Scotland was “the will of the country” and that any London politician who stood in the way would be “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.”

When asked about the prospect of Johnson agreeing to a second Scottish referendum, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said Sunday “it’s not an issue for the moment” and that the national priority is on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we get sucked into a conversation about referenda and constitutions then we are diverting attention from the issues that are most important to the people in Scotland and across the United Kingdom,” Gove told Sky News.

“Instead of concentrating on the things that divide, let’s concentrate on the things that unite,” he added.

The Scotland results have been the main focus of Thursday’s array of local elections across Britain. In Wales, the opposition Labour Party did better than expected, extending its 22 years at the helm of the Welsh government despite falling one seat short of a majority.

Labour’s support also held up in some big cities. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan handily won a second term. Other winning Labour mayoral candidates included Steve Rotherham in the Liverpool City Region, Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Dan Norris in the West of England region, which includes Bristol.