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Scotland result ‘on a knife-edge’ on eve of general election



Scotland result ‘on a knife-edge’ on eve of general election

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SNP leader John Swinney says Scottish seats could be decided by a handful of votes

Scottish party leaders, candidates and activists are hitting the campaign trail for the final time before the polls open in the snap summer general election.

They will be hoping to convince undecided voters to back them ahead of voting opening at 07:00 on Thursday.

First Minister John Swinney is to tell voters on Wednesday evening that while the result of the election in England is a “foregone conclusion”, the vote in Scotland is “on a knife-edge”.

“There are seats that could be decided by only a handful of votes,” he is expected to say.

Speaking at a campaign event earlier on Wednesday, the SNP leader said he was confident his party would win a majority of seats in Scotland.

He added: “The election is well and truly over and done with south of the border. The issue for Scotland is who is going to protect Scotland’s interests in the next Westminster parliament and people know they can rely on the SNP to do exactly that.”

Getty Images Anas Sarwar Getty Images

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is among those making his final pitch to voters before polls close

The SNP returned 48 MPs at the 2019 election, with Labour holding on to just one seat, but Sir Keir Starmer’s party has high hopes of a revival north of the border.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar rejected calls for his party to back the SNP in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East – where the Labour candidate was suspended and stripped of party support – to ensure Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross does not win the seat.

The outgoing Tory leader announced last month he would stand instead of former MP David Duguid, who was effectively de-selected after spending time in hospital.

Getty Images Douglas Ross Getty Images

Douglas Ross, who stands down as Scottish Tory leader after the election, will be in the North East on the final day of campaigning

But Mr Sarwar said: “I am the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I want people to vote Scottish Labour.

“Scottish Labour is invested in every part of the country, so if you want to get rid of the Tories, if you want Scottish Labour representation, if you want Scotland to be at the heart of a Labour government, then you need to vote Scottish Labour – and that’s what I’m calling on people to do.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said several seats across the country would be “extremely close” between his party and the SNP.

“A vote for any party other than the Scottish Conservatives – including Reform, Labour or the Liberal Democrats – just increases the chances of the SNP sneaking in by the back door,” he added.

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Making his final visit of the election campaign in Edinburgh, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “If you elect a Liberal Democrat, you will get a strong local champion focused on getting you fast access to GPs and dentists, and giving our nation’s carers a fair deal.

“We will stop sewage being dumped in our rivers, insulate you from the cost of living crisis and lift up Scottish education.

“In huge swathes of Scotland the choice is between the nationalists and a Liberal Democrat local champion who will fight for a fair deal for you and your community.”

Getty Images Alex Cole-HamiltonGetty Images

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton is urging voters to back his party on Thursday

There are 4,081,585 registered voters in Scotland. About a quarter of them – 998,863 – are postal voters.

Yet concerns have been raised about Scots receiving their postal ballots in time.

The 4 July election falls in the first full week of the school summer holidays in most parts of Scotland, with delays in receiving postal votes resulting in some Scots being left without a vote due to pre-planned overseas holidays.

Election manifestos analysed

In a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, First Minister John Swinney said the issues had been caused by a combination of Mr Sunak’s decision to hold the vote on an “unsuitable date”, and the timetable for elections leaving “little room” to address issues.

On Monday, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman told reporters the prime minister did not share Mr Swinney’s concerns.

He added that the UK government was working with the Electoral Commission, elections officials and the Royal Mail to resolve any issues.

UK Postal Affairs Minister Kevin Hollinrake is said to be “urgently investigating” the issue, but Royal Mail has rejected claims there is a backlog, saying the service is “not complacent”.

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