Voters in Scotland have just seven days to “save” the country’s recovery and halt SNP plans for a second vote on independence, Douglas Ross is to insist.
With the Holyrood election taking place on Thursday, and some polls suggesting Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP could win the majority of seats – allowing the party to push for another referendum – the Scottish Conservative leader will warn that the “very future of our country is at stake”.
Mr Ross will travel to near the border with England for a speech, in which he will urge all those who want to keep Scotland in the UK to back him and his party – even if they have never voted Conservative before.
The Tories believe winning regional list votes – on the peach-coloured ballot paper in the Scottish Parliament’s proportional representation system – could be crucial.
Their leader will tell Scots that, just as in 2014, when voters rejected independence in the referendum, the country “stands on the brink”.
And with the 2021 election taking place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Ross will say: “The SNP want to rip up our country and they want to do it at the worst possible moment.”
He fears that the SNP is “on the cusp of a majority”, and, with both the Greens and Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party also backing independence, he will say that the “threat of a nationalist supermajority is very real”.
These parties, he will claim, are “intent on hijacking the Scottish Parliament for the sole purpose of delivering a second independence referendum”.
He will argue: “Instead of setting up programmes to protect and create jobs, they will be inventing an economic case for independence and trying to design a new currency.
“Instead of supporting our NHS to work through a backlog of cancelled treatments, they will be planning to dismantle our healthcare procurement system, responsible for the huge success of the vaccine scheme.
“Instead of catching pupils up from a year of disrupted learning, they will be arranging to scrap the Barnett Formula that funds our schools and other public services.
“Instead of Scotland’s two Governments working together for our recovery, they will force a constitutional showdown and court battles.
“Instead of working to rebuild Scotland from a pandemic, they will be working to break up the United Kingdom.”
A pro-independence majority will mean the country would “move straight from a Scottish Parliament election campaign into a second referendum campaign”, Mr Ross will claim.
And he will state: “We have only seven days left to save Scotland’s recovery.
“If we do not address the threat next Thursday, the SNP will have a green light to charge ahead with a hard border, just a few hundred yards from where I stand.”
The Tory MP, who is bidding to return to Holyrood, will tell voters: “The very future of our country is at stake – and you need to vote for the future you want to see.”
He will insist that another referendum is “not inevitable”, telling Scots: “The only way to stop a second independence referendum is to use your party list vote on the peach ballot paper for the Scottish Conservatives.
“Even if you have never supported our party before. Even if it’s just this once. Even if you never consider yourself a Conservative.
“In 2016, over 500,000 Scots backed our party, many for the first time, and together we stopped an SNP majority.
“In 2021, if pro-UK voters come together again and use their peach ballots for the Scottish Conservatives, we will stop a referendum and keep Scotland on the road to recovery.”