Douglas Ross tells Tory party conference Scottish independence 'not inevitable'

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Mr Ross became Scottish Conservative leader in August after no-one else put their name forward to challenge him

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has called on his party to end the “defeatism and disinterest” regarding the country’s future in the UK.

Mr Ross said both an SNP majority in the 2021 election and Scottish independence “is not inevitable”.

He also used a speech at the UK party conference to challenge attitudes of members south of the border.

Mr Ross’ comments come in the wake of polls showing a majority of Scots are now in favour of independence.

The Moray MP, who is seeking to win a Holyrood seat in May after becoming leader in August, used his conference address to insist the union cannot be an “afterthought”.

‘Global Britain’

In his first major speech since he replaced Jackson Carlaw, Mr Ross said: “The case for separation is now being made more effectively in London than it ever could in Edinburgh.

“Defeatism and disinterest towards the future of the union is rife. Too many treat Scottish independence as a question of when, not if.

“They question why Scottish interests should be put first, if Scotland won’t always be around.”

In a strongly-worded speech he not only directed his criticism at rank-and-file members but also at the very top of the party.

Mr Ross added: “Many, including some who govern our country, want to see a UK government focused on England.

“We pretend these are the views of only a small minority, but I hear them far too often.

“If you think Scotland’s place in the UK isn’t worth the fight, then you’re in the wrong party.”

He also told delegates that too many in England had forgotten that “unionism is in our party’s DNA”.

And he warned Scottish independence would replace a “Global Britain” with a “Little England.”


Mr Ross said he knows how to beat Nicola Sturgeon’s party, having taken the Moray seat from Angus Robertson in 2017 and being re-elected last year.

He added: “An SNP majority is not inevitable. Independence is not inevitable.

“It is time for the whole Conservative Party to rediscover its unionism and get behind us. This is a fight we can win.”

Mr Ross insisted the SNP can be stopped and pointed to questions being asked of the first minister over her government’s handling of harassment allegations against Alex Salmond.

He also highlighted “holes” in SNP comments over MP Margaret Ferrier – who was suspended from the party after breaching coronavirus self-isolation rules.

But SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “The fact that Douglas Ross is openly talking about ‘defeatism’ says it all – he is rattled by the opinion polls and floundering around desperately for a coherent argument for keeping together a union that continues to fail Scotland.

“His latest ramblings are even more nonsensical than normal.

“Ross knows independence is becoming the settled will of the Scottish people and no amount of hollow words will prevent Scotland getting the chance to choose a better future with independence.”


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