Scottish voters have been urged not to “sleepwalk” into a second independence referendum in a speech by Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw today.
He will warn that, a week today, Nicola Sturgeon may choose to issue her formal demand to hold a referendum next year – and that Jeremy Corbyn would “cave in”.
Corbyn has already said he will not block a 2nd referendum, amid growing speculation of a SNP-Labour pact after the general election on Thursday.
The Scottish Conservative leader has urged voters in Scotland not to “sleepwalk into disaster over this week to come. We must instead act to stop Indyref2, to stop Scotland going back to more division, and to let our country move on.”
The full speech by Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative Leader is below:
Good morning ladies and gentlemen
A week today, the votes will have been counted. The ballot boxes will be empty. We’ll know exactly where we stand.
I know that many experts have already given their verdict on what is going to happen,
I know the polls have spoken.
But in 45 years I’ve fought enough campaigns to know that there will be plenty of twists and turns on the way all the way down to the wire.
Especially in an election campaign which is taking place amidst such turbulent times.
So, because of that, I believe that here today, with under a week to go, we should all be aware of the very real risks that lie ahead of us.
This time next week, it’s widely anticipated that Nicola Sturgeon is planning to issue her formal demand for a second independence referendum.
A referendum she plans to hold within twelve months.
She has said so herself. That is her stated position.
And also this time next week, there is a very real risk that when she sends that letter to the Prime Minister, it could be addressed to Jeremy Corbyn.
Seriously, surely Corbyn can’t be Prime Minister?
Stranger things have happened, ladies and gentlemen.
Today I want to focus minds on what could happen if he does.
And I want to send out a very clear message to voters here in Scotland. We must not sleepwalk into disaster over this coming week. We must act instead to stop Indyref2, stop Scotland going back to more division, tell her again, no, and let our country move on.
So let’s imagine that all too real but grim scenario that could be unfolding in a week’s time.
One thing we do know is that it’s extremely unlikely Corbyn will win a majority next week.
But that doesn’t mean we are safe.
All Corbyn needs to do next week is to deprive the Conservatives of an overall majority.
If he does that, he has calculated that he can then get the support from elsewhere in the Commons in order to push a Corbyn-Led Labour Government into Number Ten.
This is from where the risk really comes.
Because we know where he’ll go casting his keekers first – here, in Scotland, to Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.
This, for me, has been the revelation of this campaign.
For some years we’ve seen Labour begin to back-pedal in its support for the Union. As with Brexit, this is a party that appears to have decided that expediency should triumph and to stand in the middle of the road in the hope it can win over both sides.
Yet, in recent weeks, it’s become clear that Corbyn’s Labour has now, given up on the Union.
And it’s beyond any shred of doubt that Corbyn’s Labour is now prepared to offer what the SNP most want – a second referendum on independence – in order to get that majority over the line.
This isn’t a gaffe on their part – it’s their strategy.
Mr Corbyn and John McDonell have calculated that Labour is no longer going to win enough seats in Scotland or any at all.
They’ve realised that they’re long gone. Yesterday’s men and women.
And so they’ve decided to reach an accommodation – to give the SNP what they want, in return for the keys to Number Ten.
Their only caveat is that it won’t be “in the early years” of their time in office.
It’s a commitment worthy of being inscribed on their chocolate teapot of a manifesto.
So the outline of a deal is there already. Its agreed in principle.
Let’s just remember – Nicola Sturgeon isn’t just after a referendum some time in the future. She has made is crystal clear she wants that referendum next year
She knows that’s her best shot prior to the 2021 Holyrood elections.
That request for a referendum will come before Christmas – that is what she has said.
And I think it is beyond naïve to imagine that when presented with that letter from Nicola Sturgeon for an immediate second referendum, Mr Corbyn won’t cave in immediately.
This is a man who – after all – has never shown the slightest bit of interest in the union.
Who didn’t campaign in Scotland during the independence referendum.
Is he really going to suddenly find a hitherto, deeply concealed inner Unionist and say No to Nicola Sturgeon? And with it give up the chance to impose socialism from Number 10?
Put it mildly – I have my doubts.
So we must now accept the reality of the situation.
Put SNP and Labour seats together in this election, and another independence referendum in less than a year’s time is the consequence.
With the deal to put it in place being worked up by next weekend.
That is the reality of a vote for either Sturgeon or Corbyn at this election.
All that, in my view, puts this coming week ahead into perspective.
Because, once again, it makes clear that the over-riding priority for us here in Scotland is to do all we can to avoid our country being taken back to the brink.
A priority we will stick by not just because we believe in the Union – and because we all benefit by being part of it.
But also because we know that another independence referendum next year or two referendums would be even more painful, brutal, corrosive and protracted than the last one.
Re-opening divisions. Creating yet more uncertainty.
And let’s be clear too – it would be another year when, instead of focussing on opening the Sick Kids hospital here in Edinburgh, or dealing with the infection scandal at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow, or turning around the slump in maths and science performance in our schools or tackling the crisis of governance in our police service.
Nicola Sturgeon has abdicated her responsibility for the job she was elected to do and the catalogue of failure in Scotland’s public services is now demonstrably there for all to see. Her response is to tour the UK banging on about independence and a second referendum. Her SNP government is Simply Not Performing.
Nicola Sturgeon will instead divert her government – and all the rest of the country – into a referendum that would take us no further forward.
She says Scotland should have the right to choose. I say – don’t we have the right to expect a government that actually governs for once?
Don’t we have the right to expect better education for our children?
Don’t we have the right to see hospitals that actually open for patients?
We must not let this happen. We must not risk a neverendum.
And the Scottish Conservative and Unionists will not let it happen.
Just remember: two years ago, it was Scottish Conservatives who took on and beat SNP MPs across Scotland. It was us who deprived Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson of their seats in the Commons.
Seats now so capably filled by Scottish Conesrvatives delivering for Scotland – not creating more division.
So, next week, once again it’s us – Scottish Conservatives alone – who can stand in the way of the SNP winning the seats that will allow them to negotiate an unholy bargain with Corbyn.
It’s down to us to can weaken the SNP’s hand – deprive them of their bargaining power – and lock that referendum away for the generation promised.
But to do so - we now need your help.
In seat after seat, the only way pro-UK voters can make their voice heard, is by voting for us.
That’s the new reality of Scottish politics. As we approach the third decade of the new century we are the main opposition.
Now we need people of all political persuasions to lend us their vote and further reduce the number of SNP MPs.
As my colleague Annie Wells has said so well in this campaign – you don’t have to be a paid up member of the party to back us at this election.
You don’t have to be an old school dyed-in-the-wool Tory.
You just have to agree with us that, at this election, stopping that referendum is the over-riding priority. That stopping Nicola Sturgeon’s push for more division is the thing that matters.
Let’s remember – whatever it says on the side of her big yellow bus, emblazoned with her picture or on candidates sneaky leaflets, every vote Nicola Sturgeon wins on Thursday next week will be used by her as a mandate for another referendum on independence.
It’s a trick she’s pulled countless times before. She will do so again.
SO please – don’t let’s sleep walk through the week ahead.
Let’s wake up to the real and present danger that a second referendum brings.
And let’s come together to stop it.
And if you do support us, our promise to you will be clear.
Every one of our 59 candidates has signed a pledge saying they will not support a referendum if elected.
We’ll get Brexit sorted, so we can put the uncertainty of the last few years behind us.
And, instead of fixating on constitutional division, we’ll work to get our government = both here and at Westminster – focussed back onto the things that matter.
Funding our NHS properly – with as much as an additional £3.1 billion investment here in Scotland.
Backing our great Scottish industries – from the whisky trade to our north-sea fishermen.
Blocking Corbyn’s horrendous Aberdeen tax which imperils 100,000 jobs and the entire economy of the region - and instead, make sure we help the north-east boom once again.
Supporting our farmers, cutting taxes for the low paid, making sure Britain continues to be the leading global player we are.
And here, in Scotland, holding the SNP to account
Holding their nationalist feet to the fire
Ensuring that, without the distraction of that referendum, all the noise, hubbub, grudge and grievance they have no excuses, nowhere to run, we compel them to tackle the failures on their watch.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are two possible paths for Scotland this time next year.
Thanks to decisions made by this Conservative government, next year Scotland will be playing host to the UN Conference on Climate Change – in what will be the biggest summit ever held on UK soil.
We have the chance to show off Scotland to the world. Scotland has the chance to be at the very epicentre of efforts to tackle the climate emergency.
The other path is that, instead of showcasing Scotland to the world, we go down the road of division once more and tear ourselves apart with the eyes of the entire world watching.
And instead of looking outwards, we turn inwards.
I say enough is enough.
It is time for Scotland to move on. To rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities of 2020 and not re-run the arguments of 2014. To face the future not look to the past.
The answer to our failing schools is not another independence referendum.
The answer to infected hospitals is not another independence referendum.
Our stagnant economy will not be kick started by another independence referendum, it will be held back.
We need a Scottish government that focusses on Scotland’s needs.
This SNP government needs the people of Scotland to tell it to re-focus.
That starts by telling them we don’t want Indyref2, let alone the £15 billion black hole of independence. We don’t need the pain and division.
So I urge every Scot who cares deeply about Scotland, everyone who wants our children to have the opportunity to have a decent education, everyone who thinks sick kids should be healed not put at risk, everyone who thinks we should have the chance of a good job to make the best of ourselves, to send the message.
No to Indyref2.
With the SNP obsessed and the Labour Party indifferent, the only way to do that is to vote for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party.
For the sake of Scotland, lend us your vote.
When Nicola Sturgeon sends her letter, let’s ensure we have a Prime Minister who will mark it clearly return to sender.
Vote for Scotland. Vote Conservative and Unionist.