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General election count: live from Kirkwall

Jamie Halcro Johnston is in line to become a regional list MSP for the Conservatives after Holyrood man Douglas Ross became MP for Moray.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston

5.30 – The result of the election in Orkney and Shetland is as follows: Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dems, 11,312 votes (48.6 per cent); Miriam Brett, SNP, 6749 votes (29 per cent); Robina Barton, Labour, 2664 votes (11.4 per cent); Jamie Halcro Johnston, Conservatives, 2024 votes (8.7 per cent); Robert Smith, UKIP, 283 votes (1.2 per cent); and Stuart Hill, independent, 245 votes (1.1 per cent).

05.23 – Alistair Carmichael holds onto the seat for the Liberal Democrats ahead of the SNP’s Miriam Brett. Labour’s Robina Barton comes third, with the Conservatives’ Jamie Halcro Johnston, UKIP’s Robert Smith and independent candidate Stuart Hill following respectively. More details to follow.

04.18 – The sixth and final candidate, UKIP’s Robert Smith, has entered the building. The declaration is still expected for 5am.

03.55 – Turnout is 68.26 per cent – that’s an increase from 65.8 per cent in 2015.

03.50 – Word from the Lib Dem camp is that Alistair Carmichael may have won in every ward in Shetland.

03.00 – Election favourite Alistair Carmichael has arrived at Kirkwall Grammar School. He says he is “quite confident” ahead of the declaration, which is expected to take place around 5am.

The Lib Dem is looking to increase his majority of 817 from the last election in 2015.

02.40 – Jamie Halcro Johnston is line to become a member of the Scottish Parliament after Tory Highlands and Islands list MSP Douglas Ross beat the SNP in Moray to become MP.

He said he is “very much looking forward” to the job, which he should automatically land if he fails to win in the Northern Isles general election constituency as Ross vacates his seat.

“I don’t know what the process is, but Douglas has won and he’ll be going to Westminster, and I imagine he would resign his list seat for the Highlands and Islands, and I’m the next person on the list,” he said.

“I think I’d be invited to take the seat – I don’t know the exactly, as I have been really focused on this election, with an eye on it obviously.

“I’ve always wanted to represent Orkney, and Shetland, at this election, but I’ve worked for Highlands and Islands MSPS and I know the issues. The opportunity to represent up here and to be able to help people from the Highlands and Islands, it would be something I very much look forward to doing.”

02.20 – The ballot boxes from Shetland have arrived.

01.50 – Tory candidate Jamie Halcro Johnston finds himself in the unusual position of possibly being elected as an MSP if he fails to become MP for Orkney and Shetland. If Conservative regional list MSP Douglas Ross becomes MP for Moray this morning, then Halcro Johnston is next in line to take Ross’ place at Holyrood.

Shetland's ballot boxes arriving in Kirkwall.

01.30 – Photos have been released of Shetland’s ballot boxes being taken on a specially chartered flight from Sumburgh Airport to Kirkwall. The votes are expected to arrive by 2am.

00.52 – Early indications suggest that the Orkney turnout is 66 per cent. The overall turnout in the 2015 election was 65.8 per cent.

SIC returning officer Jan Riise (right) at Sumburgh Airport on Friday morning as a chartered plane was loaded with Shetland's ballot boxes. Photo: Shetland Islands Council

00.45 – SNP hopeful Miriam Brett thinks she ran a “very energised” campaign in a constituency which has voted Liberal Democrat for nearly 70 years.

The votes from Orkney look to be in favour of Carmichael, but Shetlander Brett is hoping for a good response from her home isles.

“We were under no illusions at the start of this that it is a Liberal Democrat stronghold and it has been for nearly 70 years,” she said.

Miriam Brett is hoping for a good response from her home isles Shetland.

“Hopefully we’ve run a campaign that will make us proud. I got an incredible response from a lot of people who would never have considered voting SNP before, which was really encouraging.

“Hopefully we’ve delivered a bit of a different campaign, with the likes of Mhairi Black and Lesley Riddoch coming up, and hosting different styles of debates and Q&As.”

00.15 – The election’s invisible man – in Shetland at least – has been UKIP’s Robert Smith, who says his career as a fishermen meant he was too busy to head north. However, the Orcadian says he might turn up to the final stages of the count – despite having to work tomorrow.

23.55 – The feeling on the floor is that Labour’s Barton could beat Tory Johnston to third place in the vote.

She thinks her campaign has gone “well” despite being somewhat last minute following Prime Minister Theresa May’s snap election announcement in April.

Labour's Robina Barton has been tipped to come third in the vote, improving the party's fourth placed finish in 2015.

“The feedback that I’ve had from it has been really positive and looking nationally, it’s been great to see how [Jeremy] Corbyn has really been on the up in his campaign and I think he’s surprised a lot of people,” she said.

“It feels like the Tories aren’t going to come out with the majority they were looking for, even if they are still the biggest party, so on the whole I think it’s been a successful campaign for Labour, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

23.35 – It’s early days yet, but there is some worried faces in the SNP camp. Brett may attract votes from younger voters, but Carmichael’s long-standing popularity could prove vital.

23.20 – Labour’s Robina Barton – and this very reporter – nearly never made it to Kirkwall for the count.

The afternoon flight from Sumburgh to Aberdeen, which was connecting to Kirkwall, temporarily went ‘technical’ before departing Shetland – but the issue was fixed and Loganair and Flybe staff ensured that the aircraft headed to Orkney waited for the connecting passengers.

23.15 – One of the main stories of the local campaign has been SNP candidate Miriam Brett. The 26 year old policy advisor is expected to put up a strong fight against Carmichael, who only had a majority of 817 back in 2015. The Conservatives’ Jamie Halcro Johnston, meanwhile, is hopeful of coming third.

23.00The last ballot box has arrived for Orkney. The Shetland boxes are being flown down from Sumburgh and they are expected at around 1.30am, with the declaration due about 5am.

22.54 – Stuart Hill is the only candidate at the count so far.

The independent hopeful, who doesn’t actually want to sit as an MP if he is elected, says he has heard positive things from the public in Orkney and Shetland, but he isn’t sure if this translates to support in the polls.

Stuart Hill was the first of the six candidates through the door.

“If I believe what people say on the doorstep, I’d say there’s a 95 per cent chance of me winning,” he said. “But I don’t see that being reflected in the votes.”

He admitted that some people may have been uncertain about his wish not to sit as an MP – and this  “may have put some people off”.

22.40 – Exits polls suggest the Conservatives will be the largest party in the UK after the election, but there is suggestion they may be short of a majority. The SNP are predicted to win 34 seats – a far cry from the 56 they bagged in 2015. 

22.20 – The first ballot box has arrived from Kirkwall’s St Magnus Centre as counting begins.

22.15 – Welcome to our live coverage of the election count from Kirkwall Grammar School, where Alistair Carmichael will be looking to extend his 16-year stint as Orkney and Shetland MP.