A STUNNING victory for the SNP saw Ronnie Cowan re-elected as Inverclyde’s MP – increasing his majority by more than 7,000.

Mr Cowan took just under half of the vote in what was an astonishing night at the polls for the nationalists.

Labour’s Martin McCluskey, who lost by just 384 ballots at the last election in 2017, saw the gap between the SNP widen dramatically in what was a miserable night for his party across the UK.

The Conservatives also lost ground to the nationalists locally with candidate Haroun Malik dropping over 2,000 votes, while there was a victory of sorts for Liberal Democrat Jacci Stoyle who increased her party’s share of the poll - and kept her deposit.

Ecstatic Mr Cowan said: “It’s like Christmas has come early for the SNP.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Greenock Telegraph's front page headline."

The count in Greenock Town Hall turned out to be somewhat of a victory parade for the SNP after the exit polls predicted the party would mop up 55 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats.

Following such a close-run election in 2017, Mr Cowan was relieved to win so convincingly this time round.

The Inverclyde MP said: “We haven’t stopped campaigning for the last two years.

“The team have been working at this.

“We’ve been refining how we do what we do - how do we get the message out there and where’s our target audience but why did folk not turn out and vote or why did they not vote for me last time round?

“We’ve been looking at all of that and refining it and we had a campaign in a box ready to go last June/July so that when the whistle went, we were on the doorsteps from day one and knew exactly what we were doing.

“We stuck to our guns and we stuck to three core messages - we’re anti-austerity, we’re anti-Brexit and we’re pro-Scottish independence – and that resonated and people turned out and voted for me.”

Incredibly, it was Mr Cowan’s third election in just four years since he was first voted in back in 2015.

Asked if he will get the chance of a full term this time round, he said: “I sit on the committee of the constitution and every time anyone mentions the five-year Fixed-Term Parliament Act I just fall around laughing.

“I’ve yet to see this thing, does it exist?

“Who knows is the short answer to that. I’d like to think so. Part of me would like to think so but look what we’ve got, a Westminster parliament with a Tory majority and we’ve got to live with that.

“That’s how England voted. The people of Scotland have got to waken up to that. That’s how England voted, that’s not how we voted here in Scotland – we’ve got a choice to make.”

Mr Cowan is also adamant that the SNP can come good on their pledge to have a second Scottish independence referendum – despite the fact the Conservatives are now in outright control at Westminster and Boris Johnson having already ruled out another vote.

He said: “Boris Johnson’s said a lot of things, hasn’t he?

“He chops and changes and hides in fridges. We don’t know what he’s going to say next.

“He’s a man who, even with this victory behind him, there’s going to be incredible pressure on him from the ERG [European Research Group], what’s he going to deliver, how’s he going to deliver it?

“Honestly, I couldn’t guess how long he’s going to be Prime Minister.

“But it’s a democracy we live in. Look at how the people of Scotland have voted here and across Scotland - and look at how England has voted.

“They have to listen to the legal arguments behind what we’re going to put in front of them and the people of Scotland have the right to choose their own future.

“Let’s have that referendum and let the people of Scotland choose.”

Photos: George Munro