(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has celebrated triumphant early local election results in England, though his attention is already turning to the vote in Scotland which is likely to signal a majority for pro-independence parties.

Johnson’s ruling Conservatives tightened their grip on the pro-Brexit former industrial heartlands of northern England in results announced Friday. They took the parliamentary seat of Hartlepool, which overwhelmingly backed leaving the European Union, from the opposition Labour Party for the first time since the electoral district was created in 1974.

But north of the border in Scotland, the pro-independence movement led by the Scottish National Party of Nicola Sturgeon continues to lead the way. The outcome of the vote there remains on a knife edge, with the SNP hoping to clinch at least 65 of the 129 seats.

Whatever happens, Johnson said he won’t grant the Scottish government the consent needed to make another referendum legally watertight. Elsewhere results are expected in London’s mayoral election, which is looking to be a tighter race than expected between the incumbent Labour candidate Sadiq Khan and Conservative challenger Shaun Bailey.

Key Developments:

  • More results in English local elections due with the Conservatives having made significant gains Friday
  • Final results for Scottish Parliament and Mayor of London expected Saturday
  • Labour set to stay in power in Wales with most seats declared

SNP Says Don’t Need Outright Majority for Referendum Mandate (8:20 a.m.)

The SNP says they don’t need an outright majority to secure a mandate for a Scottish independence referendum as long as other nationalist parties win most of the seats.

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it’s difficult to tell whether the SNP will win an outright majority, though there will be a pro-independence consensus once Green legislators are counted. The outcome of the vote in Scotland remains on a knife edge, with the SNP hoping to clinch at least 65 of the 129 seats.

“I’m certain there’ll be a majority in the Scottish Parliament of people committed to holding an independence referendum on the future of Scotland,” Swinney said on BBC radio. “If there is a majority of members from the SNP and Greens elected to parliament, that is the will and wish of the Scottish Parliament and should be respected by everyone.”

While Scotland’s proportional voting system makes it difficult for a single party to win more than 50% of the seats, the SNP managed it in 2011, leading to the 2014 Scottish referendum where Scots rejected independence. The SNP are unlikely to win an outright majority this time round with results in the Galloway and Aberdeenshire West marginal seats key, according to John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Labour Need to Learn from Welsh Performance (7:40 a.m.)

The Labour party need to learn lessons from their performance in Wales where they outperformed, according to a senior official.

Labour’s home affairs spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said the party need to find how to cut through to “every single community” in England as they did in Wales. Labour are the incumbent party in Wales’ devolved parliament and are set to stay in power, having equaled their best ever performance.

“We have a situation in Wales where we have a developed policy agenda and a party where there is no no-go area,” he said on Sky News. “We really do need now to transfer that to England and those parts of England where we need to do a great deal better.”

Johnson Won’t Grant Another Scottish Referendum (Late Friday)

Boris Johnson said he would reject calls for a second Scottish independence referendum even if Nicola Sturgeon secured an SNP majority at Holyrood.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Johnson said he will “see what happens” in the elections but reinforced his opposition to a new referendum on Scottish independence. “I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless,” he said.

It was a view echoed by his environment minister George Eustice on Saturday morning. “As we try to come out of the pandemic and focus on the economic recovery, it really isn’t the time to do constitutional tinkering,” he said on Sky News.

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