Ruth Davidson to hit out at SNP calls for new independence referendum


SNP calls for a second independence referendum in the wake of the Brexit vote are "utterly unjustified" and "completely irresponsible", the Scottish Tory leader will say.

With the vote to leave the European Union causing political turmoil, Ruth Davidson will challenge Nicola Sturgeon's party to "put the national interest before its own nationalist vision for once".

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader and First Minister, has already said the European referendum result and Scotland's vote to stay in make another ballot on leaving the UK "highly likely".

Meanwhile the party's Westminster leader Angus Robertson said that a second independence referendum is "exactly what we will do" if Scotland is not permitted to remain in Europe.

Ms Davidson will use a speech to lobby journalists in Westminster to accuse the nationalists of seeking to make gains from the current turbulent times.

She will also insist that memories of the "divisiveness and toxicity" of the 2014 referendum campaign mean that most Scots do not currently support staging another vote on the issue.

Ms Davidson will say: "The SNP is, as usual, trying to seize on a moment of doubt and uncertainty to declare that the shining star of independence is the answer.

"And it's trying to claim that, as a result of Brexit, there is now a massive groundswell for a second independence referendum.

"This is simply not true. Even after the EU vote, only four in 10 people in Scotland say there should be an independence referendum.

"Firstly, that's because we had a vote on this, less than two years ago, when people in Scotland voted quite clearly to stay part of the UK.

"Indeed two million people voted to do so, more than the 1.6 million in Scotland who voted to remain within the EU.

"And it is also because people's memories of the divisiveness and toxicity of that independence referendum campaign are still fresh - and many people don't want to revive them."

In these circumstances "bluster" from senior SNP MPs that a second referendum will now happen is "utterly unjustified and it is completely irresponsible", Ms Davidson will claim.

The Tory MSP will state: "Unjustified because our decision to remain part of the United Kingdom less than two years ago must be respected - as the SNP promised it would do.

"And irresponsible because it only piles uncertainty on top of uncertainty.

"It is time the SNP put the national interest before its own nationalist vision for once.

"You cannot uphold the EU referendum result in Scotland as sacrosanct while trashing the Independence referendum vote we held just 22 months ago.

"And you don't solve the questions around leaving one union by walking out on an even more important one."

An SNP spokesman said: "Ruth Davidson has already conceded that Westminster should not block a second independence referendum.

"The SNP's focus is on the negotiations that lie ahead to protect Scotland's relationship with the European Union and our place in the Single Market. Scotland needs the stability and security of remaining in the world's biggest single market - for jobs, investment and prosperity.

"A second independence referendum is an option which is very much on the table - and even the Scottish Tories now agree that the UK Government cannot stand in the way."