Tory MSP leads late bid to woo Labour voters

The Scottish Conservatives have issued a last-ditch plea to Labour voters in a bid to stop a second independence referendum.

At an event in Bothwell – part of the marginal Lanark and Hamilton East constituency – MSP Adam Tomkins said his party will “stand up to Nicola Sturgeon”.

He vowed to fight to block a second referendum, which the Conservatives say they will not support “not now, not ever”.

In a pitch to entice voters to cross the divide, Tory politicians from traditionally Labour backgrounds have explained their reasons for joining the party.

It has been reported throughout the campaign that Labour may need votes from the SNP to push through its electoral agenda, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon even laying out “red lines” for her party’s support.

A second independence referendum, as well as more investment in the NHS and the scrapping of Trident, were among the demands made by Ms Sturgeon as the price for SNP support.

Speaking at the event, Mr Tomkins, who had come from a traditional Labour background, said: “Until I joined the party, I’d never even voted Tory.

“But I joined because, like so many other people in Scotland, I realised that the Scottish Conservatives are the only party dedicated – come what may – to protecting Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.

“Everyone else runs scared of Nicola Sturgeon. But not us. Everyone else would cave in to Nicola Sturgeon. But not us.

“Everyone else would cut a deal with Nicola Sturgeon – even if that meant an unwanted second independence referendum. But not us. Not now. Not ever.”

He added: “If you want an end to Nicola’s independence obsession, vote Scottish Conservative and Unionist on Thursday.

“If you want a Government that will deliver, not only on Brexit but on schools and skills and jobs and hospitals too, vote Scottish Conservative and Unionist on Thursday.

“Even if you’re not a Scottish Conservative and you just want someone to stand tall and to stand up to Nicola Sturgeon and to stand up for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, vote Scottish Conservative on Thursday.”

Glasgow MSP Annie Wells said Labour voters “scunnered by Sturgeon” could lend their support to the Tories in a bid to protect the union.

Meghan Gallagher, the party’s candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw, said this would be a “once in a lifetime” change to support the Tories.

She said: “My appeal to Labour voters is this. This isn’t about you changing to become a Tory, it’s about you lending us your vote on this occasion because the leaders of your party no longer defend the union.

“There might be some hesitation from you but please think of this. Should Jeremy Corbyn win, it will be a Friday the 13th horror story.

“Whilst listening to Jeremy Corbyn making his victory speech outside the steps of 10 Downing Street, Nicola Sturgeon will also be preparing to announce that the new Prime Minister has signalled his support for a second independence referendum, just 5 years since the last vote.

“Some of my friends and family from this area have already committed to backing the Scottish Conservatives as a once in a lifetime vote because they know that we are the only party who can stand in the way of Nicola Sturgeon and her plans to break up our United Kingdom.”