Highlands & Islands

SNP holds and Lib Dem gain in Highlands and Islands

Ballot boxes arrive for count in Dingwall Image copyright Andrew Thomson
Image caption Ballot boxes arrive for the count in Dingwall in the Highlands

The SNP have held all but one of their four Highlands and Islands seats in the election.

Angus MacNeil was re-elected in the Western Isles' constituency Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Drew Hendry was returned as MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey and Ian Blackford was re-elected in Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

The Lib Dem's Jamie Stone took Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross from the SNP.

Paul Monaghan, the SNP candidate, finished in second place after losing 17% of his support.

Mr Stone, a Highland councillor and a former MSP, said it was "old fashioned canvassing" that helped him to win.

He said people told him that they did not believe their concerns about local health and education were being listened to.

The SNP candidates who were re-elected saw reduced majorities.

In Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey in 2015, Mr Hendry took one of the Lib Dem's biggest scalps - Danny Alexander - beating him by more than 10,800 votes.

This time, it was the Conservatives who were the challengers polling a 24.2% swing and cutting Mr Hendry's lead by almost 7,800 votes.

Mr Hendry, a former leader of Highland Council, said he was pleased with the result, but it was a "tough ask" with such a short time to prepare.

In Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Mr Blackford had taken the seat from former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy in 2015 with a majority of just under 6,000.

But in this election his vote fell by more than 4,600.

Mr Blackford said he was re-elected on his record of taking on local issues and representing all the people in his constituency.

Mr MacNeil has held Na h-Eileanan an Iar since 2005, but there was an almost a 14% swing away from him.

Margaret Davidson, leader of Highland Council, said she wished to congratulate the area's newly elected MPs.

She said: "I am looking forward to working with them to make sure the Highlands has a stronger voice in Westminster.

"With two MPs having served as Highland councillors, we have MPs acutely aware of the challenges facing the Highland Council and the residents it represents.

"We need to work together to get a better deal for Highland residents."