Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will tell his party that “defeatism and disinterest” regarding the country’s future in the UK has to end.
The Tory MP, who is seeking to win a Holyrood seat in May after taking over the party’s leadership north of the border, will use a conference address to insist the union cannot be an “afterthought”.
Too many Tories in England have forgotten the values of conservativism and unionism are “inseparable”, Ross will claim, adding such attitudes “extend to some of those governing our country”.
This, he will add, puts Scotland’s place in the UK in jeopardy, telling party colleagues: “By devolving and forgetting, you play into the SNP’s hands.”
His comments come in the wake of opinion polls showing a majority of Scots are now in favour of independence.
But Ross, who is to address a Scottish Conservative fringe event at the national party’s online conference, will insist the SNP can be stopped.
He will point to questions being asked of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over her Government’s handling of harassment allegations against Alex Salmond, as well as “holes” in SNP comments over Margaret Ferrier – who this week had the SNP whip removed for breaching coronavirus self-isolation rules.
Ross will say: “Look at how the SNP have been put on the back foot this week on the First Minister’s lies over Salmond inquiry evidence, to the SNP chief executive hiding from scrutiny, to the holes in Ian Blackford’s story over Margaret Ferrier.
“This scandal-ridden SNP can be stopped.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell was thrown out of the Holyrood chamber earlier this week after refusing to withdraw his remark calling Nicola Sturgeon a “liar” when promising the Scottish Government’s full co-operation with the Salmond inquiry.
The First Minister has insisted she is co-operating with the inquiry.
Mr Ross will also tell the meeting: “You cannot be a Conservative and not be a unionist, the two values are inseparable. Too many representatives of the Conservative Party in England have forgotten this.
“Defeatism and disinterest towards the future of the union is rife.
“I am told that independence is inevitable by people that have barely been to Scotland. As if we Scottish Conservatives are wasting our time in trying to hold our country together because the SNP have already won.
“These attitudes extend to some of those governing our country. Despite bold promises, the union too often becomes an afterthought. By devolving and forgetting, you play into the SNP’s hands.
“So enough of the defeatism and disinterest. The last thing that Scotland needs right now is another independence referendum and we know that a majority of Scots agree.”
But SNP depute Leader Keith Brown said: “The fact that Douglas Ross is openly talking about ‘defeatism’ says it all – he is rattled by the opinion polls and floundering around desperately for a coherent argument for keeping together a union that continues to fail Scotland.
“His latest ramblings are even more nonsensical than normal. Far from devolving and forgetting about Scotland, his masters in London are attempting the absolute opposite by trying to claw back powers from the people of Scotland with their disastrous and illegal UK Internal Market Bill.
“Ross knows independence is becoming the settled will of the Scottish people and no amount of hollow words will prevent Scotland getting the chance to choose a better future with independence.”
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