THERESA May has been dealt a major blow in her bid to halt a second referendum after the SNP triumphed again over the pro-Union parties at the ballot box.

It was a treble for Nicola Sturgeon’s party, which yesterday added the local government election victory to successes at last year’s Holyrood election and the 2015 General Election.

The SNP took 431 council seats, up from 425 in 2012, and in a historic result ousted Labour from power in Glasgow after almost four decades.

“The SNP has won the election in Scotland and won it loud and clear,” said the First Minister.

“Thanks to the support of people across the country, the SNP has secured the largest number of councillors, the highest share of the vote – with an increase on the last result in 2012 – and is the largest party in the most council areas.”

She added: “Obviously I’ve been focused mainly on results in Scotland, but looking south of the Border it’s clear that the Tories look like they’re on track to win the General Election on the strength of their support in England.

“So for people in Scotland, if we want to make sure there are strong voices for Scotland in Westminster, if we want to make sure there’s a really strong opposition to the Tories holding them to account, that can only come from the SNP in Scotland and this is a great launchpad for that campaign.”

She also said the local elections would be “an excellent springboard for the General Election” in less than five weeks’ time.

“Results across the UK show that now more than ever, Scotland needs strong SNP voices to stand up to a Tory government that is set to impose more cuts and put thousands of jobs at risk,” she said.

“It is clear from these results that the only party who can be that strong opposition to the Tories – in Scotland and across the UK – is the SNP.

“Where Labour let Scotland down by losing so many seats to the Tories, the SNP showed that the Tories cannot take Scotland’s votes for granted.”

The result comes just weeks after May said voters should use the local election to send a message to the SNP that Scotland does not want a second independence referendum. But today the SNP is the largest party in 16 council areas – up from 10 in 2012 – and joint largest in a further three councils.

It has also replaced Labour as the largest party in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as well as in North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire, where Labour had won majorities in 2012. However, in a disappointment for the party it lost overall control of Dundee and Angus councils – the only two areas where it had secured majorities five years ago – as the Conservatives increased their number of seats.

Across Scotland the Conservatives came second, returning 276 councillors, more than double the tally they secured five years ago.

Ruth Davidson’s party was boosted by wins in former Labour heartlands, and managed to win seats in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas – Ferguslie Park in Paisley and Shettleston in Glasgow.

And in a warning signal to the SNP, if voting patterns are similar at the General Election on June 8 the surge in Conservative support could see the Tories oust some SNP MPs from Westminster.

While the Tories were jubilant, Labour slumped to become the third largest party in Scotland’s town halls, and was kicked out of power in its Glasgow heartland for the first time in almost 40 years.

A total of 262 councillors were elected on a Labour platform, although one of them had been expelled from the party after the ballot papers had been printed.

That compares to the 394 seats the party won in 2012, though since then there have been boundary changes. The results in total mean no party has managed to win majority control of a single council and all will either be run by coalition or minority administrations. A total of 172 independent councillors were elected, along with 67 Liberal Democrats and 19 Greens.

The Tories said they had made gains in every mainland local authority area, adding that it was the first time since 1974 they had secured more councillors than Labour.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said it was “obviously a disappointing election” for her party.

She added: “Across Scotland, there has been a clear backlash against the SNP’s plans for a divisive second independence referendum and anger over the SNP’s woeful record running our schools, hospitals and public services.

“The SNP’s number one priority at this election was an overall majority in Glasgow, but Nicola Sturgeon’s party has clearly fallen back significantly from the results in 2015 and 2016 in our largest city and in other communities across Scotland.”

Over the next few days, Labour “will be looking to build agreements with parties that will join us in opposing inflicting more austerity on communities and providing good quality local services,” Dugdale said.

The STV system of proportional representation used to elect councillors in Scotland meant that no party has a majority in any of the 32 councils.

Successful candidates included Cameron McManus, who at just 19 was among the youngest councillors elected. McManus was elected for the SNP in North Lanarkshire.

A former newspaper editor, a pharmacologist originally from Nigeria, and two former MSP were among other elected.

Former Scotsman editor John McLellan was elected for the Scottish Conservatives in Edinburgh’s Craigentinny and Duddingston ward. In Dumfries and Galloway, Labour’s Elaine Murray made her return to front-line politics with a seat, while the former SNP MSP Christian Allard was elected in Aberdeen.

In Glasgow, pharmacologist Ade Aibinu, 28, became the city’s first black councillor. Originally from Nigeria, he won a seat for the Tories in the Victoria Park ward. Siblings Kevin Lang and Louise Young were both elected for the LibDems in Edinburgh following a joint campaign.

Clackmannanshire Council, the smallest authority in Scotland, was one of the first to declare all its results, with the SNP remaining the largest party after returning eight councillors, one fewer than in 2012. Both Labour and the Conservatives had five councillors elected, with the result for the Tories up four on five years ago.