Ruth Davidson says Scotland ‘not held back’ by UK

Ruth Davidson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ruth Davidson has returned to politics after being on maternity leave for the past seven months

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives is to tell her party’s conference that Scotland does not need independence in order to prosper.

Ruth Davidson will argue that the country is not being held back as part of the UK, and is already capable of “taking on the world”.

She will accuse the SNP of using the constitution as an excuse for inaction.

And she will pledge to “build a better Scotland now” if her party wins the next Holyrood election.

Ms Davidson’s speech to the conference in Aberdeen will be her first major public appearance since the birth of her son Finn in October.

She will tell delegates that the country has had enough of the SNP’s “agitating for independence”, and accuse the party of “searching the horizon for a dark cloud and then blaming it on Westminster”.

Ms Davidson will add: “I have a more positive view of Scotland’s future. I reject their mantra that says we have to have a break-up before we can possibly hope to prosper. I don’t see Scotland as subjugated, put upon or as held back.

“Our message is that we can prosper now. That we can back our businesses, build up our institutions and give future generations the skills to take on all comers.

“That right here, right now, Scotland can take on the world. There’s nothing stopping us.

“So that’s the choice – between an SNP that doesn’t believe we can thrive for years into the future, and my team which wants to get on with building a better Scotland now.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May made her keynote speech to the conference on Friday

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second independence referendum in the next two years but the UK government has already ruled out granting the consent that Ms Sturgeon says would be needed to ensure it was legal.

Ms Sturgeon’s SNP won 63 seats in the last Scottish Parliament election and the Conservatives won 31 – with opinion polls suggesting the SNP continues to hold a commanding lead ahead of the next vote in 2021.

But Ms Davidson will use her speech to insist it is realistic for her party to win the election and form the next Scottish government.

‘Firm guarantee’

She said: “As first minister, I won’t use every engagement with the UK government as a chance to sow division. I’ll use it as a chance to deliver better government for the people who live here.

“And I’ll make a firm guarantee now: If I am elected Scotland’s next first minister, there will be no more constitutional games and no more referenda. We’ve had enough to last a lifetime.

“So we’re not fighting each other – but fighting for each other.”

Ms Davidson was overheard questioning whether she needed to mention the forthcoming European elections as she rehearsed her speech in the conference hall on Friday evening.

The rehearsal was apparently caught on a live microphone without Ms Davidson realising, and has since appeared online.

Ms Davidson’s speech comes in the wake of the Conservatives losing more than 1,000 seats in council elections in England, which has largely been blamed on the deadlock over Brexit.

The conference heard from Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, who told delegates that she remained determined to deliver a Brexit deal despite facing fresh calls to quit.



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