THE SNP will enter a coalition with independent councillors and take control of Highland Council.

The deal, which was reportedly struck on Monday night, was formally announced on Tuesday. It will be ratified at a meeting of the council on May 26.

The local elections on May 5 saw the SNP become the largest party on the council with 22 councillors. It is the first time that independents have not formed the largest group in Highlands.

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Combined with the independents' 20 seats, the SNP-led coalition will have a majority of five.

Raymond Bremner, the SNP group leader, is expected to become council leader, with independent group leader Bill Lobban also looking set for a leading role.

Bremner said: “I’d like to thank the leadership of the independent group for their time during our amicable discussions over the past week.

"We have had the ability to discuss a number of things relating to council and we look forward to forming a joint administration that will provide a stable basis on which to take council forward for the new term.”

Reports said that some members of the independent group had been reluctant to sign up to a deal with the SNP. A minority administration with Labour and LibDem councillors propped up by Tory votes on a confidence and supply basis had also reportedly been floated as an idea.

After the deal with the SNP was announced, Lobban said: “I look forward to working closely with councillor Bremner and the SNP group over the next five years.

"This agreement will provide a settled long-lasting administration and we will work together for the benefit of the people of the Highlands.”

Commenting, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he was “delighted” to hear of the deal.