With one week to go until polling day, the Scottish Conservatives have appealed for voters to make the “anti-referendum, pro-UK majority in Scotland count” and use their peach ballots to “save Scotland’s recovery”.
Speaking in Coldstream next to the Scotland-England border, Douglas Ross said an SNP majority focussed on another referendum would “crush our economic recovery” and “take us to the brink of ending the United Kingdom.”
Repeated polls throughout the election campaign have shown that the SNP will miss a majority if pro-UK voters stick together behind the Scottish Conservatives using their peach ballots.
Should the pro-UK vote split, numerous polls have indicated the SNP will win a majority, which they would use to hold another referendum, regardless of what the UK Government says.
In 2016, the SNP missed a majority because the Scottish Conservatives gained seats on the party list vote.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “A hard border won’t create jobs, as the SNP falsely claim, but will instead put half a million Scottish jobs at risk, make foreigners out of friends and family, and end a 300-year-old Union.
“A Union that was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and led the world in creating the NHS.
“A Union that has evolved but not diminished. That is just as essential to Scotland today as it has ever been, demonstrated by the job saving furlough scheme and our world leading vaccination programme.
“It is a Union that provides us with a strong foundation for our future. Giving Scotland a platform to lead the globe, to continue to be at the vanguard of raising international standards, such as later this year, when the world will come to Glasgow for COP26 to agree new action to tackle the climate emergency.
“But the SNP would put all that at risk, right away. They are in denial about the vaccine programme, the furlough scheme, and the strength that we have from remaining united.
“If things continue as they are then next Thursday the SNP will charge ahead with their plans that would create a hard border, just a few hundred yards from here at the Coldstream Bridge.
“We need to stand up to them in the national interest, to stop a second independence referendum and secure our recovery.
“If we don’t now, in this election, then it will be too late, the damage will be done.
“What the SNP are proposing right now is irreversible. It would crush our economic recovery. It would take us to the brink of ending the United Kingdom.
“This election is about one thing and one thing only - whether Scotland gets on the road to recovery.
“Whether we use the strong foundations of the UK to rebuild our country - or whether we wreck that recovery by allowing the SNP to hold a second independence referendum.
“We have only seven days left to save Scotland’s recovery.
“This is not the election for risking your vote on parties with uncertain positions or uncertain prospects.
“This is the election for making the anti-referendum, pro-UK majority in Scotland count.
“We cannot afford to be complacent with the future of our country at stake.
“We cannot be passive and hope that others will fight nationalism in our place.
“We cannot give strength to the SNP’s argument that Scotland wants another independence referendum.
“If we want the UK to continue then we need to vote for it.
“The only way to stop a second independence referendum is to using your party list vote on the peach ballot paper for the Scottish Conservatives.”
The full speech, which will be broadcast on the party’s social media channels this afternoon, is as follows -
We are now exactly one week away from the Scottish Parliament Election.
An election, against a backdrop of lockdown and restrictions, with the public, the voters, left largely on the outside.
Unable to properly engage with and meet candidates.
And being naturally more concerned about seeing friends and family again.
More concerned about finally getting to go to a pub, restaurant or gym after months of being stuck in their own home.
And about when they will be protected by the vaccine.
For the last year, politicians have been more involved in their lives than ever before.
Dictating if they can leave the house, if they can see family, if they can say goodbye to a loved one.
So I can understand why people want to keep this election in the background, as they look to rebuild their lives from more than a year of restrictions.
But I am here today in Coldstream, on the border between Scotland and England, to say that this election cannot remain in the background.
That it is too important for us to sleepwalk into.
Because right now, the SNP are on course to win a majority.
Backed by the Greens and Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, we will face a nationalist supermajority,
intent on hijacking the Scottish Parliament for the sole purpose of delivering a second independence referendum.
I wish that was not the case, but I am not going to pull the wool over your eyes.
The threat is very real.
Their hard-line supporters see this election as their big opportunity,
A way to achieve the lifelong goal that you denied them in 2014.
Now, they have their second chance and they won’t miss it again.
It is a guarantee that nationalist voters will turn out in this election.
The SNP are one week away from winning total unchecked control of the Scottish Parliament.
From being able to push their agenda without restraint.
And we know that their priority is holding a second independence referendum.
Making a fresh attempt to rip apart the United Kingdom,
If things continue as they are then next Thursday the SNP will charge ahead with their plans that would create a hard border, just a few hundred yards from here at the Coldstream Bridge.
A hard border that won’t create jobs, as the SNP falsely claim, but will instead put half a million Scottish jobs at risk, make foreigners out of friends and family, and end a 300-year-old Union.
A Union that was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and led the world in creating the NHS.
A Union that has evolved but not diminished. That is just as essential to Scotland today as it has ever been.
Demonstrated by the job saving furlough scheme and our world leading vaccination programme.
A programme that has seen almost two thirds of adults receiving their first vaccine dose and a quarter their second in just five months.
And it is a Union that provides us with a strong foundation for our future.
Giving Scotland a platform to lead the globe, to continue to be at the vanguard of raising international standards.
Such as later this year, when the world will come to Glasgow for COP26, to agree new action to tackle the climate emergency.
The Union is just as essential to Scotland’s past, as it is to its present, as it is to its future.
But the SNP would put all that at risk, right away. They are in denial about the vaccine programme, the furlough scheme, and the strength that we have from remaining united.
If they are able to take forward their referendum plans, then there is no chance that politics will fade into the background after the election, to let people rebuild their lives.
Just as in the run up to 2014, constitutional politics will be a part of everything that the Scottish Government will do.
The next Parliament won’t just be about that referendum but also about selling the case for an independent Scotland.
Because the SNP will want to make sure that this time, they win.
Instead of setting up programmes to protect and create jobs, they will be designing the currency that we will all be paid in an independent Scotland.
Instead of supporting our NHS to work through a backlog of cancelled treatments, they will be planning to dismantle our healthcare procurement system, which has seen us secure over 450 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.
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 working to rebuild Scotland from a pandemic they will be working to break up the United Kingdom.
Nicola Sturgeon has said that they will hold this referendum in the recovery phase
and Kate Forbes, the minister responsible for delivering our economic revival, has called for it to be held before our recovery begins.
So, with a referendum being held early in the next parliament, you can guarantee that the work of persuading us of the benefits of independence and of delivering that vote will begin on day one.
Instead of the election result allowing the country to move on from politics to delivering our recovery, we will move straight from a Scottish Parliament Election campaign into a second referendum campaign.
Now, there will be some of you who think that a referendum cannot happen.
That despite what she says, Nicola Sturgeon will not really hold a referendum when Scotland is coming out of the pandemic.
Or that the UK Government will block it and the SNP will just give up,
A view that is reinforced by many a complacent commentator.
The same commentators who told us that Alex Salmond would never win a majority or that the 2014 Referendum would never happen.
We cannot leave the future of our country to wishful thinking.
Nicola Sturgeon has twice tried to hold a referendum in the last five years - she is not going to stop pushing for one now.
If the SNP win a majority, they are going to use every possible tactic to secure a second vote on independence.
They have made that absolutely clear.
They will hold a referendum regardless of whether it is legally agreed by the UK Government or not.
Instead of Scotland’s two government’s working together for our recovery, we will see them facing each other over a court room.
And all the while the SNP will be taking forward an illegal referendum, wasting tens of millions of pounds on a vote that will end up being invalid.
Yet still leading to years of uncertainty over Scotland’s future.
Uncertainty that will only damage our economic recovery and turn the focus of government away from managing our public services.
We cannot afford to be complacent with the future of our country at stake.
We cannot be passive and hope that others will fight nationalism in our place.
We cannot give strength to the SNP’s argument that Scotland wants another independence referendum.
If we want the UK to continue then we need to vote for it.
We need to make it totally clear that we believe that a referendum is the wrong priority for our country.
That we do not want it.
That we choose recovery now, and a recovery supported by the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom.
Because we can deny the SNP that majority and stop their referendum ourselves.
They may be on track to win full control of the Scottish Parliament right now, but that outcome is not inevitable. Another referendum is not inevitable.
The same polls show that more than half of our country still do not support independence and that even more do not want a referendum on Sturgeon’s timetable.
Those voters are out there, the people who can secure our recovery and Scotland’s place in the UK.
Yet in order to achieve that, we all need to come together, to unite behind one campaign strong enough to win seats across the country and oppose the SNP under any circumstances.
Just like in 2014, we need to put political differences aside and say no again.
No to a divisive referendum, no to years of division and uncertainty, no to our economic recovery being derailed.
This election is too important, the SNP want to break apart our country during our recovery from a global pandemic.
Just this once, we need to join together and get behind a single campaign to send the SNP a message that this is the wrong priority for our country.
That we need Scotland to come together now not fall into months and years of a divisive political fighting that will tear our nation apart again.
That we want to focus on the things that really matter and not have the constitution remain the only game in town.
And there can be only one choice for that campaign.
Labour may say that they are against a second referendum.
But in this election, they are more interested in cosying up to the nationalists than taking them on.
With the future of our country at stake, they are sitting on the side-lines.
We all want a national recovery but that cannot be delivered if we have a referendum hanging over us.
Many of their candidates are open to a referendum taking place.
Can we really be sure that when it comes down to a crunch vote in Parliament that every one of their MSPs will vote against Sturgeon’s referendum?
Or will some of them instead be thinking about the fact that they were elected on the back of nationalist votes.
Then the Liberal Democrats are a spent force in our politics.
And there are a range of minor parties who are untried and untested.
Can you gamble the future of our country on a party that may not even win a single seat?
Who by splitting the pro-UK vote can only help nationalist parties and the SNP to win a majority.
This is not the election for risking your vote on parties with uncertain positions or uncertain prospects.
This is the election for making the anti-referendum, pro-UK majority in Scotland count.
For putting our normal party-political differences aside in the national interest.
To secure our recovery and our victory from the 2014 Referendum.
And the only way to effectively oppose a second independence referendum in this election is to vote for the Scottish Conservatives.
Even if you have never supported our party before and would never think of doing so.
In 2016, over 500,000 Scots backed our party, many for the first time, and together we stopped an SNP majority.
And in every election for the last five years, we have shown that we are Scotland’s second largest party and the only party capable of taking on the SNP.
We have proven time and time again that we are the most effective vehicle for Scots to say no to another referendum.
This election is about one thing and one thing only, whether Scotland gets on the road to recovery.
Whether we use the strong foundations of the UK to rebuild our country.
Or whether we wreck that recovery by allowing the SNP to hold a second independence referendum.
In this election we need to put the national interest first and stop the nationalists.
We need to come together as a majority of voters to prevent the SNP from wining a majority of MSPs.
And the only way we can achieve that is to come together and use our party list votes, this once, for the Scottish Conservatives next Thursday.
This election is too important to continue as it has – as background noise to most people’s lives.
Just as in 2014, Scotland stands on the brink.
The SNP want to rip up our country and they want to do it at the worst possible moment.
When we are recovering from a global pandemic that has lasted for more than a year and done incredible damage to lives and livelihoods.
This election is more important than what you think about individuals and parties.
Governments both at Holyrood and Westminster, First Ministers and Prime Ministers can change.
What the SNP are proposing right now is irreversible.
It would crush our economic recovery.
It would take us to the brink of ending the United Kingdom.
And right now, they are on course to achieve that, for winning a majority and ending the Union.
We need to stand up to them in the national interest, to stop a second independence referendum and secure our recovery.
If we don’t now, in this election, then it will be too late, the damage will be done.
Just this once, we need to put our differences aside and come together behind a single campaign.
And the only way that voters can do this is by voting Scottish Conservative with their peach party list ballot paper next Thursday.
Together we can get our Parliament and our country 100% focused on delivering our recovery.
Together we can protect jobs, catch up our children’s education and support our NHS.
Together we can rebuild Scotland, with the support of the whole of the UK.
So let’s come together behind the Scottish Conservatives, say no to a referendum and allow us all to rebuild our lives and our country from coronavirus.