Scotland’s First Minister could lead the country into “disaster”, Douglas Ross has claimed.
The leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party set Tories the task of winning over voters who feel “forgotten” by the SNP.
Ross spoke at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester where he argued that Humza Yousaf is only interested in the Central Belt of the country and was leaving behind voters in other areas and those who did not support independence.
With a general election expected in 2024, Ross said: “To be a Conservative is to be a Unionist.
“Unlike our opponents, Conservatives don’t apologise for being British, we embrace it.”
He took aim at Yousaf’s record and his partnership with what he described as the “extremist” Scottish Green Party.
He described Yousaf as a “danger” who could “drive Scotland to disaster if we’re not careful”.
He said: “We call him useless – but actually he’s reckless. He’s certainly more reckless than Nicola Sturgeon.
“On independence, he is more rash, irresponsible and hasty than even Nicola Sturgeon was at her worst.
“He is prepared to push harder and more aggressively than she did for independence.
“He has said it himself – in next year’s general election – even if he loses a bunch of his MPs but manages to squeak a majority by a single seat, no matter his share of the vote, he will declare independence.
“Even Nicola Sturgeon would have dismissed that plan as too far.”
Elsewhere, he said the Tory party would pledge to fully dual the A9 to Inverness and the A96 “as soon as possible” – although he acknowledged transport was a devolved issue.
He also highlighted plans for a Local Policing Act and the recruitment of 1,000 extra officers.
Ross claimed the First Minister, who represents Glasgow Pollok and lives in the Dundee area, “only thinks of his own backyard” and does nothing for the rest of Scotland.
Yousaf has insisted the Scottish Government is still “absolutely committed” to ensuring the A9, which runs from Perth to Inverness in the Highlands, is converted to dual carriageway.
He said the Government will update MSPs on the overall timescale for completing the dualling of the A9 “later this year”.
Ross said: “There is no way that a similar situation would be tolerated on the M8.
“Yet because it concerns the north of the country it is repeatedly moved down the priority list.”
He said “pressure from the UK Government” and a large intake of Scottish Conservative MPs would “hold the SNP’s feet to the fire”.
SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “The SNP has a strong track record in delivering for communities right across Scotland – from rolling out game-changing family and child benefits, to overseeing record staffing in our NHS, and supporting our farmers, crofters and agriculture sector.
“In contrast, the Tories at Westminster have ignored Scotland’s interests for decades; dragging us out of the EU against our will, short-changing the Scottish Government at every turn, and attempting a power grab on our Scottish Parliament by bypassing devolution.
“With independence, Scotland will get the governments we vote for – and we will not be forced to pay the price of Tory economic mismanagement and incompetence.”
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