Davidson aiming to take independence ‘off the table once and for all’

Ruth Davidson has said she is fighting to become First Minister so she can take the independence question “off the table once and for all”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Ms Davidson said her return to frontline politics at her party’s conference in Aberdeen would “fire the starting gun” on the 2021 Scottish elections.

The Scottish Tory leader – who is returning to work following a period of maternity leave – added that she would not be willing to help Nicola Sturgeon move towards a second independence referendum at any point.

Ruth Davidson
The Scottish Tory leader will make her return to frontline politics at her party’s conference in Aberdeen this weekend (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Davidson said: “I’m willing to talk to Nicola Sturgeon, Willie Rennie, Patrick Harvie, Richard Leonard and anybody else about how we make devolution work better.

“But in terms of trying to facilitate Nicola Sturgeon’s fourth, fifth, sixth attempt to try and get a second independence referendum after she promised she’d respect the first one, I don’t think so.

“I’m fighting incredibly hard and we’re firing the starting pistol today to win the 2021 Scottish election so that we can take this question off the table.

“In Scotland, we’ve had this hanging over us for the best part of 10 years now and, as a country, we need to move on.”

Asked about polls indicating an increase in support for holding another independence referendum, Ms Davidson said that the majority of people do not want one before 2021.

She said: “Only 21% want the disruption and the grievance that we saw of another referendum in the next two years, which is what Nicola Sturgeon is asking for.

“So, over that two-year period, I’m going to fight to win the 2021 election in Scotland and I’m going to take this question off the table once and for all so the country can move on.”

Ms Davidson also said the task in negotiating Brexit could not have been as easy one for Theresa May.

She said: “I think even her harshest critics would have accepted that Prime Minister May has worked exceptionally hard with a pretty almost impossible job.

“There is competing views on what Brexit means within all of the political parties out there, so it’s not just a Tory issue, although I’m not covering over the cracks, there are definitely different views within the Conservatives, but there’s different views within other parties too.

“I think the frustration for voters is they’ve seen vote after vote after vote in the House of Commons, all of which showing what there isn’t a majority for, but none of which is showing what there is a majority for.

“The frustration is they see the voices that are getting louder are the ones at the edges.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “The Scottish Tories have got themselves in a corner. They are now a Brexit supporting party in an overwhelmingly Remain country, which already narrows appeal.

“But they also can’t even claim to have delivered Brexit. Not much principle or strategic nous on display.”

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