Boris Johnson has spurned Nicola Sturgeon’s renewed call for a second referendum on Scottish independence in his first act as prime minister with a commanding commons majority.
After the Scottish National Party (SNP) won near domination north of the border by taking 48 of the country’s 59 seats, the Scottish First Minister said she would seek powers to hold a fresh vote on breaking away from the UK.
But Downing Street said that Mr Johnson had called Ms Sturgeon to make clear “how he remained opposed to the move”.
“The prime minister spoke to First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon earlier this evening, where he reiterated his unwavering commitment to strengthening the union,” said Number 10.
“On Brexit, the prime minister said that he is now in a position to get this done in a way that allows the whole of the UK to move forward together, providing certainty for Scottish businesses and improving the lives of people right across Scotland.
“The prime minister made clear how he remained opposed to a second independence referendum, standing with the majority of people in Scotland who do not want to return to division and uncertainty.
“He added how the result of the 2014 referendum was decisive and should be respected.”
Ms Sturgeon responded on Twitter, saying she “made clear that the SNP mandate to give people a choice must be respected – just as he expects his mandate to be respected”.
In a victory speech the prime minister urged British people to “let the healing begin” as he promised to use his comfortable majority of 80 to end the wrangling over Brexit.
He also declared on the steps of Downing Street that he would honour a promise to take the UK out of the EU by 31 January.
He said that more than three years since the referendum result “this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics and a permanent break from talking about Brexit”.
Watched on by government advisers including Dominic Cummings, he said: “I want everyone to go about their Christmas preparations happy and secure in the knowledge that here in this people’s government the work is now being stepped up to make 2020 a year of prosperity, hope and growth, and to deliver a parliament that works for the people.”
Shifting to his domestic campaign pledges, Mr Johnson said his “overwhelming” priority after Brexit would be investing in the NHS.
More proposals to improve education, technology and infrastructure were also promised.
Hundreds of protesters opposed to a Tory government descended on Downing Street on Friday evening, marching through central London chanting: “Boris Johnson – not my prime minister”.
A heavy police presence was seen close to the Cenotaph in Whitehall, which was cordoned off as clashes broke out.
At 8.30pm on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said one person had been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.
Following his election victory, Mr Johnson also spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Premier Leo Varadkar – two key players in the Brexit talks – as well as Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Downing Street said.
After a dreadful election night for Labour, Jeremy Corbyn said that having led the party to lose 59 seats he would step down at the end of a leadership election in the “early part of next year”.
He claimed a different leader would have done no better and that his radical policies were not “un-electable”, instead blaming Brexit for “dominating” the campaign.
Another party looking for a new leader are the Liberal Democrats, after Jo Swinson was narrowly ousted by the SNP in East Dunbartonshire.
She later insisted she “does not regret trying everything” to avoid Brexit.
Hundreds of protesters descended on Downing Street on Friday evening
The election results mean Mr Johnson has the largest majority of any prime minister since 2001 and the Conservatives’ highest number of seats since Margaret Thatcher was their leader in the 1980s.
In an early-morning address to staffers at Tory headquarters, the prime minister declared that “no one can now refute” his “stonking mandate” to deliver Brexit.
He added: “We must understand now what an earthquake we have created. The way in which we have changed the political map of this country.”
US President Donald Trump has congratulated Mr Johnson on a “great win”, saying the election leaves the US and UK “free to strike a massive new trade deal after Brexit”.