A second independence referendum in Scotland would be “unjustified and irresponsible”, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative party, will say at a speech in London today.
Ms Davidson, who backed Theresa May’s campaign to become Prime Minister, is in Westminster on the final day of David Cameron’s premiership, writes Nathalie Thomas.
She will tell journalists this lunch time that the Scottish National party is trying to “seize on a moment of doubt and uncertainty” to further its independence agenda.
She will also challenge claims that since the UK’s EU membership referendum – in which Scotland voted by 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain – there has been a “massive groundswell” for a second independence vote in Scotland.
A poll conducted by Panelbase and published by The Sunday Times after the EU membership vote suggested a rise in support for an independent Scotland. The poll suggested 52 per cent of Scots now back independence.
But Ms Davidson will say:
This is simply not true. Even after the EU vote, only four in ten people in Scotland say there should be a independence referendum.
Firstly, that’s because we had a vote on this, less than two years ago, when people in Scotland voted quite clearly to stay part of the UK. Indeed 2 million people voted to do so, more than the 1.6m in Scotland who voted to remain within the EU.
And it is also because peoples’ memories of the divisiveness and toxicity of that independence referendum campaign are still fresh – and many people don’t want to revive them.
The leader of the Scottish Tories has previously criticised the speed with which Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has ordered officials north of the border to start drawing up legislation for a second independence vote.
Ms Sturgeon has formed a panel of experts to advise her on the options to keep Scotland in the EU.
Although the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament last month that a second independence referendum was not her “starting point”, she has asked officials to start work on legislation for second vote in the event that it is determined to be Scotland’s best chance of maintaining its relationship with the EU.
Responding to Ms Davidson’s remarks, Ms Sturgeon said contrition from the Scottish Tory leader would be “more apt”. Ms Sturgeon tweeted:
The irresponsibility of her party put Scotland in this position.
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