Ruth Davidson to tell Tory party conference: 'We have passed peak Nat'
Ruth Davidson will tell the Scottish Conservative conference that Scotland has “passed peak Nat” and that her party can stop Nicola Sturgeon from winning a majority at May’s election.
The outgoing Holyrood leader will open the virtual gathering of the party faithful today, ahead of speeches from Boris Johnson tomorrow and Douglas Ross on Monday.
She will tell delegates that the “starting gun has already been fired” on the election campaign.
Davidson will say: “Over the last few weeks, something in Scotland has changed.
“We’ve passed ‘peak Nat’ and, more and more, Scotland is saying ‘enough’.
“An SNP majority government – once seen as a ‘nailed-on’ near-certainty, and for so long the outcome almost universally forecast amongst the pundits - now looks much less sure.
“It’s vital that majority is stopped because it’s the only way to be certain that Scotland isn’t dragged back into another independence referendum when we all need to be focusing on building a recovery from the pandemic.
“At the last election in 2016 the SNP fell just two seats short of an overall majority. That derailed their drive for another independence referendum five years ago.
“And it was achieved because people right across Scotland who wanted to stop the SNP gave their ‘party’ votes to the Scottish Conservatives.
“We did it together, and we can do it again.”
Reports on Friday suggested Johnson would use his speech on Sunday to categorically rule out an independence referendum while he’s in No 10.
According to the Telegraph, senior Tories want to make it clear that there will be no Section 30 order granted, even if Sturgeon does win majority.
They also want to ramp up the campaign about the lack of clarity over what independence might mean for the border, pensions and a future currency.
There’s also a proposal from Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to have MPs gather in the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments for a fortnight every year.
UK government ministers also believe pro-UK bodies like These Islands, Scotland Can and Scotland in Union can help lead the fight against independence.
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “The fact that the Prime Minister and his Tory colleagues are clearly spending so much time discussing how they can combat support for independence shows they are preparing for a referendum they know is inevitable in the face of a Holyrood majority for one.
“Bluntly, they wouldn’t be spending so much time on the issue if they thought their Trump-like bid to defy democracy could hold.
"Having already taken powers and funding from the Scottish Parliament, the Tories have confirmed that they now want to take over the Parliament building as well, despite the fact MSPs will be sitting there – nothing could better illustrate Tory arrogance and ignorance of Scotland.”
Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael said voters were “sick to the teeth of the nationalist double act of the Tories and the SNP.”
He added: “Both of them are desperate to keep alive the constant stress and division of the independence debate when most Scots just want to put the recovery first.
“Most people don’t want to spend another five years fighting over flags – they want parties that will prioritise real issues like the economy, mental health and our NHS.
“It is hard to take Douglas Ross seriously when his only policies appear to be to nod along with whatever Boris Johnson says. Ross has bent over backwards, even switching sides on Brexit – and yet he couldn't even get his budget demands taken seriously by his own party.”