Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross (pictured) has challenged Nicola Sturgeon to a debate this month on Scotland’s future if the SNP won’t stop pushing for indyref2 this year.
Speaking today, Douglas Ross said we need to have a Covid-election but we can still stop a Covid-referendum.
The speech is the unionist response to the SNP’s recent announcement of a ‘roadmap to independence’, their plan for holding another referendum as early as this year.
Douglas Ross will say that if Nicola Sturgeon is “not prepared to disown this plan, then she should be prepared to defend it.”
SNP constitution minister Mike Russell has said he wants indyref2 in 2021 and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has said the same.
Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly refused to rule out a 2021 referendum.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said:
“We are living under a national lockdown and in the middle of a global pandemic.
“The Scottish Fiscal Commission are predicting our economy and job market won’t return to normal until about 2024.
“It is the duty of all politicians to come together and focus on the national interest in a time of crisis.
“The public expects 100% focus on the vaccine rollout and our recovery.
“In the face of increasingly stronger threats of indyref2 from the SNP, I don’t have the luxury, or the choice, to completely put politics aside.
“We are going to need to have a Covid-election.
“And my party will fight that election as hard as we have ever done.
“We will match the SNP’s renewed threat of indyref2 this year, with a renewed push to stop them in their tracks, just as we did in 2016 and every year since.
“The SNP are not holding back.
“They’ve taken the gloves off and they’re going full-throttle for indyref2 right now.
“Which is why I am challenging Nicola Surgeon to a debate this month on Scotland’s future.
“If she believes that this referendum plan is an essential part of Scotland’s economic recovery from coronavirus, then she should explain it to the Scottish people.
“So, let’s not wait for the election.
“Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader, let’s you and I debate our respective positions right now.
“If she thinks that now is the time to talk about a referendum, then there should be scrutiny of her plan.
“If she wants to return to party politics, then this is how political leaders put their ideas across, not in government press conferences.
“I won’t allow the SNP’s plan, to wreck our recovery, to go unchallenged and my side of the argument unheard.
“So, if she is not prepared to disown this plan, then she should be prepared to defend it.
“Because we all have a choice over whether we put another independence referendum ahead of our recovery.
“Over whether Scotland will have a divisive Covid-referendum.
“It is not inevitable.
“It does not need to happen.
“It is our decision.
“Ultimately the decision over whether we choose recovery over a referendum belongs to us, it does not belong to the SNP.
“That is the message that the Scottish Conservatives will be taking to the country in this Covid-election.
“This is the time to come together in the national interest and focus 100% on rebuilding Scotland from coronavirus.
“We will need to have an election this year.
“We do not need to have another divisive referendum.
“Let’s choose rebuilding and recovery over a Covid-referendum.”