EDINBURGH/LONDON (REUTERS) - Scotland's bid for a second independence referendum was dealt a blow when Nicola Sturgeon's nationalists lost 21 of its 56 seats to parties that want to keep the United Kingdom united.
The Scottish National Party, which nearly swept the board in Scotland two years ago, saw a resurgent Conservative Party north of the border claim scalps including former leader Alex Salmond and deputy leader Angus Robertson.
Sturgeon demanded a second independence ballot in March, arguing that the Brexit result changed the rules of the game. The June 23 ballot on Brexit called the future of the United Kingdom into question because England and Wales voted to leave but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.
After Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats focused their campaigns in Scotland on preserving the 300-year old union.
Sturgeon said it was a "a disappointing result" for her party, two years after it won a landslide in Scotland.
"There is clearly uncertainty around Brexit and independence which clearly will be factor in tonight's results," she said.
"(There is) a lot of thinking for the SNP to do." Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the party had its best result in 20 years.
Scotland delivered the only good news for a Conservative Party that lost its overall majority in the British parliament.
"We had a very clear message in this campaign and there wouldn't have been so many SNP losses tonight if Nicola Sturgeon hadn't tried to force through an unwanted second independence referendum in March," she said.
"That's what a lot of people in Scotland were reacting against, and I think they've spoken pretty loudly to Nicola Sturgeon tonight and she has to take it off the table."
The SNP still took 35 seats, while the Conservatives won 13 seats in Scotland, achieving the second largest share of the vote. Labour won seven and the Liberal Democrats four. All three national British parties won just one seat each in 2015.
Sturgeon said the results of the election were disappointing for her party but were disastrous for May.
"Clearly it's a disappointing result, we've lost some tremendous MPs," Sturgeon said. "This is a disaster for Theresa May, she called an election clearly very arrogantly thinking that she was going to crush the opposition, sweep everybody aside and cruise to a landside majority, her position is very, very difficult."
Ms Sturgeon said she would think about her demands for a second Scottish independence referendum after her party lost seats to the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, which all want to preserve the United Kingdom.
"There is clearly uncertainty around Brexit and independence which clearly will be factor in tonight's results - you know a lot of thinking for the SNP (Scottish National Party) to do," she said.