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And on a night of crisis at Westminster, for those of a unionist persuasion it provided a moment of cheer.

Where Theresa May fell short, the seemingly unstoppable Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, delivered in spades.

Having lost all of its Westminster seats but one in 2015, it secured seven in Thursday’s poll, giving a much-needed fillip to Kezia Dugdale, its leader at Holyrood.

And the moral authority and political muscle now wielded by Davidson will make it hard for Mrs May to wave away her concerns: remember, without the 13 seats secured in Scotland, the Prime Minister would not be back in Downing Street today.One question will linger: just how far can Davidson go?Her deputy John Swinney has also conceded they may have to look again at demanding Indyref2 after losing so many seats.Speaking today Ms Sturgeon said SNP plans for another independence referendum were 'undoubtedly' a factor in the election result - but refused to admit it was 'dead'.Those separatists who survived often did so by the skin of their teeth: Stephen Gethins held on to North East Fife by just two votes over the Lib Dems after three recounts. If this isn’t quite the end of the SNP — they retained 35 of their 56 seats — it is undoubtedly the beginning of the end.

After a decade in power in Edinburgh, and the spell of prolonged mass popularity that followed 2014’s independence referendum, the Nats are on the wane.

She has repeatedly criticised Sturgeon for allowing her constitutional obsession to get in the way of the day job.

Voters are clearly finding these arguments compelling, and it appears they could be losing faith in the SNP.

I recognise my responsibilities as First Minister to play my part in that, and for that to be very much in the forefront of my mind.’As welcome as this would be if it were genuinely her choice, in truth Miss Sturgeon has little option.

Ruth Davidson’s success is in large part down to positioning her party as doughty defenders of the Union, while Labour and the Lib Dems have wobbled on the issue.

In the end, her measures have been timid and unconvincing, largely because she is wary of alienating Left-wing teaching unions and public-sector workers who she hopes will support the break-up of Britain in a second referendum. In an unusually muted speech at her official Bute House residence in Edinburgh yesterday, she hinted that a second referendum will now be put on the backburner.‘Undoubtedly, the issue of an independence referendum was a factor in this election result,’ she said.