Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has blasted his Labour rivals for being “half-hearted” on the key issue of the constitution, as he insisted only his party can stop the SNP from having a “Covid referendum”.
The Conservative MP insisted that having a second vote on Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom as the country seeks to rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic would be “the wrong priority for our country”.
He insisted that the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic should “absolutely” be the focus of May’s Scottish Parliament election.
Mr Ross said: “I want to end the division, no more referendums, so we can focus on that recovery and rebuilding Scotland.”
He attacked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, saying she had announced a “full route map to a divisive independence referendum” ahead of her “partial route map” for ending the current coronavirus lockdown.
With the SNP having recently agreed to set aside £600,000 of cash to spend on a second referendum campaign, Mr Ross added: “This is not by any measure a government focusing 100% on the pandemic.”
But while he insisted the Scottish Conservatives “won’t support” another referendum “under any circumstances”, Mr Ross also attacked Scottish Labour – who are due to elect their latest leader on Saturday.
With MSPs Anas Sarwar and Monica Lennon in the running for that post, the Tory leader said: “Whoever wins, Labour will be half-hearted on the constitution.”
He claimed Labour is “uncertain” and “could change its mind” on such issues.
Mr Ross said: “Monica Lennon has said that she is not going to tell people that they can’t have a referendum. While Anas Sarwar has refused to say what Scottish Labour’s position will be after May.
“Whoever wins, Labour will be half-hearted on the constitution.”
He insisted: “The Scottish Conservatives will never work with any party that is taking forward a divisive referendum to break up the UK.
“But Scottish Labour cannot say the same because they would rather work with than stand up to the SNP.”
In contrast, Mr Ross said his party were “completely behind Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, and wholly, unashamedly against the SNP’s referendum plans”.
Speaking about SNP calls for another referendum, he added: “Conservatives won’t support it, under any circumstances.
“We will never say that dividing our nation, splitting apart families, pitting friends against one another, is the proper way forward for this country. We don’t want that bile and anger to come back to Scotland.”