In response to the formation of Alex Salmond’s new party, Douglas Ross has sent letters to Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders this morning asking for a meeting to agree how they can work together.
The Scottish Conservatives have also today launched a Unionist manifesto and asked all major pro-UK parties to back it, as a show of unity in the face of the increased threat of an independence super-majority.
Ahead of the proposed meeting, Douglas Ross has asked for Anas Sarwar and Willie Rennie to sign the Unionist manifesto as the basis of a framework for working together.
The Unionist manifesto includes three pledges for each party to sign up to:
a) vote against a second independence referendum regardless of the result in May’s election.
b) rule out a coalition or confidence deal with any party who seeks to hold an independence referendum in the next Parliament.
c) agree to form a pro-UK, anti-referendum coalition if the opportunity arises.
Douglas Ross will launch the manifesto this morning in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “On the first day of my campaign, I said we had to rediscover the Better Together spirit and unite to stop an SNP majority and another divisive referendum.
“The prospect of that referendum, held without the UK Government’s consent, has increased dramatically with the formation of Alex Salmond’s party. This new nationalist party is designed solely to deliver an independence super-majority.
“The threat of a Scottish Parliament focused entirely on breaking up the UK for the next five years, instead of on the essential task of rebuilding our country, is now very real.
“We must meet this new threat with an equally strong response.
“This manifesto can be the starting point for greater co-operation between pro-UK parties, nothing is off the table.
“Its pledges are simple and reasonable. We would agree to vote against a second referendum, rule out any kind of deal whatsoever with the SNP, and agree to form a pro-UK, anti-referendum coalition government in the next Scottish Parliament term.
“As the biggest opposition party, the Scottish Conservatives will stand up to the SNP and stop their push for another referendum right across Scotland, no matter what.
“But if we can work with other pro-UK parties to further our chances of preventing a nationalist government, we will do so.
“I urge the other party leaders to put aside our differences, just as we did in 2014 when we united as Better Together, to once again say no, defeat nationalism and secure Scotland’s place in the UK.
“We cannot avoid this fight, we must first defeat this fresh drive towards a second independence referendum, so that we can have a Scottish Parliament focused 100% on rebuilding Scotland.”