Douglas Ross: Scottish Tory leader hits out at ‘defeatism’ and ‘disinterest’ from party south of the border

Conservatives in England are “not helping” the Unionist cause in Scotland with their “defeatism” and “disinterest”, the leader of the Scottish Tories has told Sky News.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Douglas Ross said his speech to the party’s virtual conference – in which he said “the case for separation is now being made more effectively in London than it ever could in Edinburgh” – was designed to be a “wake-up call”.

“This was to remind everyone that we are Conservative and Unionist and the defeatism and disinterest that I hear too often sadly from colleagues, from members of the party south of the border, is not helping our fight up here,” he said.

“We are the strongest supporters for the Union in Scotland, we are the only ones who can stop the SNP and put a brake on their demands for another independence referendum to separate Scotland.

“But our message is not being helped by those south of the border who somehow think this is a foregone conclusion. It’s not.”

Mr Ross, who became party leader in August, blamed a culture of “devolving and forgetting” for the malaise.

“It’s an attitude, it’s a feeling that the pattern of funding, significant funding through this COVID pandemic, £6.5bn from the UK government to the Scottish government and then we forget,” he told Ridge.

“We need to do more to remember that Scotland has two governments and the UK government and the Scottish government should work together more to benefit communities right across the country.”

Asked if Boris Johnson is the man to save the Union, he said the prime minister was a “strong supporter” of the United Kingdom and the Union.

Mr Ross added: “He believes that the four nations of the United Kingdom can do far more together than they can do separately on their own.

“But I think the prime minister would also accept that his government and successive governments have not done enough to strengthen the case for the Union.”

Asked about Mr Ross’s comments, the PM told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think he was talking about those who don’t value the Union in the way that I do and I think that the Union is one of the great achievements of this country.

“And by the way, I think its value, it’s use has been amply demonstrated during this crisis.”

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Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party is pushing for a second independence referendum, despite voters rejecting independence in a 2014 vote.

Part of the SNP’s argument is that the 2016 Brexit referendum – which saw Scotland vote Remain – has changed things since then.

Recent opinion polls have suggested there is now a majority for independence, but the PM is a long-standing opponent of a second independence referendum.

He reiterated this on Sunday, telling Marr: “I don’t think this is the time, quite frankly, for us to have another referendum.”

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