The political landscape in the isles could be set to change sooner than expected, following the shock announcement by the Prime Minister of a snap election on 8th June.
Theresa May wants the country to unite behind the Conservative party’s Brexit negotiations. Speaking outside the door of Number 10 this morning, she criticised opposition parties for failing to offer their support.
“Our opponents believe our resolve will weaken,” she told reporters.
“They are wrong. They underestimate our determination to get the job done.”
But the forthcoming general election, which MPs will be asked to vote for tomorrow, could represent a significant gamble for Mrs May and the Conservative government – particularly if the SNP sees a repeat of its landslide victory seen across most of Scotland after its 2015 campaign.
Two years ago the party secured 56 out of 59 seats. Incumbent local Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael saw his majority slashed to just a fraction over 800 after the nationalist party put forward Danus Skene, who died last year.
Whoever stands for the SNP in Orkney and Shetland this time round, it will not be local party convener, Robbie McGregor, who is already preparing for life as a member of the next council as one of the three South Mainland representatives.
Mr McGregor said due process had to be carried through before any names were made public, but he was confident the party would be able to nominate a candidate.
Speaking minutes after Mrs May’s Downing Street announcement, Mr McGregor said: “I’m obviously surprised, but the SNP is ready to fight the seat.
“We have a process for selecting a candidate and this has now started.”
If the SNP is able to repeat its 2015 success Scotland-wide, it could force open the door for the second independence referendum First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to secure.
Mr McGregor said that, while he would hate to tow a party line, such a scenario – together with widespread Tory wins south of the border – would represent a “material change in circumstances”.
“The Labour party in England is in such a state,” he added, signalling the likelihood of a Tory victory at the end of the campaign.
In response Mrs May’s calls for opposition parties to get behind Brexit, Mr McGregor said: “I believe we should remain a part of the European Union.”
The Shetland Times attempted to contact Mr Carmichael but he was not available. However, he told the BBC it gave people the opportunity to have their say on the ‘hard Brexit”.
“This is the opportunity for people who are not happy with Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’ taking us out of the single market, taking us away from the customs union, to make their views known.
“And the way you can do that is by lending your vote to the Liberal Democrats.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation reacted to this morning’s announcement said its priority was still to “exit the hugely damaging Common Fisheries Policy and restore control of UK waters”.
“Fishermen in all our coastal communities will expect the political parties contesting the election to commit to this route and free us from the present unfair and harmful constraints on their right to make a living from the sea.”