Douglas Ross urges Tories to ‘pick side’ on Scottish independence

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has urged fellow Tories to “pick which side you are on” when it comes to Scottish independence.

He called on the party to turn away from “defeatism and disinterest” around the union, during his speech at the Conservative Party’s virtual conference on Saturday.

Far too many Tories in England have forgotten that unionism “is in our party’s DNA”, Mr Ross claimed.

The Moray MP is seeking to win a Holyrood seat at the election in May after taking over the party’s leadership north of the border.

He said an SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament “is not inevitable” and insisted “this is a fight we can win”.

His comments come in the wake of opinion polls showing a majority of Scots are now in favour of independence.

Mr Ross spoke at a Scottish Conservative fringe event at the national party’s online conference.

He said: “The case for separation is now being made more effectively in London than it ever could in Edinburgh.

“Defeatism and disinterest towards the future of the union is rife. Too many treat Scottish independence as a question of when, not if.

“They question why Scottish interests should be put first, if Scotland won’t always be around. Many, including some who govern our country, want to see a UK Government focused on England.

“We pretend these are the views of only a small minority, but I hear them far too often.

“If you think this way, ask yourself a question – whose side are you on?

“If you think Scotland’s place in the UK isn’t worth the fight, then you’re in the wrong party.

“Far too many Conservatives in England have forgotten that unionism is in our party’s DNA.

“And independence would shatter the image of our United Kingdom. Instead of a global Britain, there would be a little England.

“My party, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, is not going to give in, not now, not ever.”

Mr Ross admitted the SNP look “formidable”, but he highlighted his previous victories in the Moray constituency.

He added: “An SNP majority is not inevitable. Independence is not inevitable.

“I know how to beat the SNP. In 2017, I beat Angus Robertson, Nicola Sturgeon’s right-hand man, to win my Moray constituency. Last year, despite an SNP surge, I won again.

“It is time for the whole Conservative Party to rediscover its unionism and get behind us. This is a fight we can win.”

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.”