PM heads north as poll shows Tory support growing in Scotland


Theresa May will make a direct pitch to Scottish unionists on her first trip of the General Election campaign north of the border.

The Prime Minister will tell a rally that a vote for the Tories will strengthen the union and allow the UK and Scotland to "flourish", as she seeks to capitalise on the party's growing support in the nation.

Mrs May has turned down First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum to try and protect Scotland's status in the European single market, and will reiterate her insistence that voting Tory will bolster her hand in Brexit negotiations due to begin after the June 8 election.

In east London, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to make his most personal speech of the campaign so far and urge young voters, who could hold the key to his electoral prospects as they are more likely to back him, to "step up" and vote for Labour.

But in Leeds, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron will reiterate his claim that he could replace Mr Corbyn, who he has described as "demonstrably the worst leader in British political history", as leader of the official opposition.

While the opposition leaders battle it out in England, Mrs May will seek to exploit apparently growing levels of support for the Tories in Scotland.

A YouGov poll of Scottish voters released on Friday suggested the Tories are the leading unionist party north of the border, up 13 points on 28%, behind the SNP on 41% but ahead of Labour on 18% and the Lib Dems on 7%.

The PM will visit a business to discuss the Government's industrial strategy before being introduced at a rally by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, where Mrs May is expected to say: "My message to the people of Scotland today is clear: if you vote for me it will strengthen my hand in the Brexit negotiations.

"It will strengthen the union, strengthen the economy and together the UK and Scotland will flourish.

"Because when Scotland is flourishing, the rest of the United Kingdom is flourishing too."

Mr Corbyn will make a direct plea to young potential voters, who he will tell to overcome "apathy and resignation" because it only favours the Tories.

He will highlight figures showing 2.4 million young people are missing from the electoral register and a turnout rate of just 40% among 18 to 24-year-olds as he urges them to "claim your future".

The Labour leader is expected to say: "The Conservatives are more than happy with this state of affairs. Apathy and resignation will secure them seats on election day.

"It's not that our young people don't have the energy and talent to succeed. Our country is full of potential.

"But something hangs on people's lips - though it typically goes unspoken. It's the unheard story of why so many of us are scaling back our hopes and dreams in favour of just getting by.

"It's the reason why this country is unable to unleash its potential.

"Because as families, communities - entire regions - we are all being held back.

"Don't let the Conservatives hold you back.

"Don't let the Conservatives hold Britain back.

"Quite simply, only the Labour Party can deliver a Britain for the many, not the few."

:: YouGov surveyed 1,017 Scottish adults on April 24-27.