POLLING expert John Curtice has said an early General Election would produce an increase in the number of SNP MPs. The politics professor was the latest guest to be interviewed by journalist Iain Dale at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last night.

Curtis said an election called before October’s Brexit deadline could see a record number of “third-party” MPs from outwith the Conservatives and Labour.

Predicting the Tories could find it tough to form the next government, he said: “The SNP are dominant up here. There will be more SNP MPs than there are at present, the Liberal Democrats are at 18%, there’s something like a 10% swing from Conservative to Liberal Democrat. Any Tory MP who is sitting on a majority over LibDems of less than 20% is vulnerable – 40, 50 Liberal Democrat MPs is possible.

“For the Tories to be able to retain office, they will need to get to 326 seats or something very close to it because they will not have any other potential friends inside the Commons apart from the DUP and whatever Brexit party appears there. Labour, in contrast, at least have the prospect of being able to do a deal with the LibDems and with the SNP.”

Curtice also said it is now too late for the UK to leave the EU with any sort of deal before the October 31 deadline.