The Scottish Mail on Sunday

We’re Scot­land’s real cham­pi­ons

Buoy­ant David­son parks her tanks on SNP lawn

- By Gareth Rose

A TRI­UMPHANT Ruth David­son yes­ter­day taunted Ni­cola Stur­geon by declar­ing that her new team of 13 Tory MPs are ‘Scot­land’s cham­pi­ons’.

The SNP leader has long tried to main­tain that only the Na­tion­al­ists can stand up for Scot­tish in­ter­ests.

But af­ter the re­mark­able resur­gence of the Con­ser­va­tives north of the Bor­der in Thurs­day’s elec­tion, the Scot­tish Tory leader ef­fec­tively stole the SNP’s thun­der by ar­gu­ing that her new group at West­min­ster would be pas­sion­ate in fight­ing for Scot­land.

But she in­sisted – in an ar­ti­cle for The Scot­tish Mail on Sun­day on the op­po­site page – that un­like the Na­tion­al­ists, the Tories would not take vot­ers for granted or aim to spread di­vi­sion and re­sent­ment. Miss David­son also threw down the gaunt­let to Jeremy Cor- byn, promis­ing to take the fight to his ‘de­struc­tive agenda’, hav­ing se­cured the seats that de­nied the Labour leader the keys to Down­ing Street.

Miss David­son un­veiled her new MPs in the shadow of Stir­ling Cas­tle yes­ter­day. By con­trast, the SNP, which lost 21 of its 56 seats, kept a low pro­file.

‘I am de­lighted that we are go­ing to be able to send 13 Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive MPs to West­min­ster,’ said Miss David­son.

‘They come from a host of dif­fer­ent back­grounds and will bring real ex­pe­ri­ence, en­thu­si­asm and a pas­sion for their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to the job.

‘This team will aim to stand up for Scot­land’s in­ter­ests – and to show that those in­ter­ests are best served by be­ing part of the UK.

‘We will aim to de­liver, not di­vide – and to show how the Union can work for all of us.’

Miss David­son also re­peated her in­sis­tence that in­de­pen­dence is now ‘dead in the wa­ter’ af­ter a ‘decade of un­cer­tainty’ hang­ing over Scot­land. Hav­ing won al­most 50 per cent of the vote in 2015, the SNP claimed less than 37 per cent last week. Many of its MPs who sur­vived the Tory surge – and Labour and Lib Dem re­vivals – had only wafer-thin ma­jori­ties.

Miss David­son added: ‘The SNP had a ter­ri­ble elec­tion – and were spared even more humiliatio­n by the skin of their teeth.

‘Quite sim­ply, peo­ple in Scot­land have had enough of their con­stant talk of di­vi­sion, and let their views be known through the bal­lot box.

‘Ni­cola Stur­geon must now do more than re­flect: she must take her threat of a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum off the ta­ble, and fo­cus on her pri­or­i­ties in govern­ment.’

SNP rules barred MPs from speak­ing out pub­licly against party pol­icy and Miss David­son made clear her new team would be more in­de­pen­dent-minded. But she said she did not have a sce­nario when that could hap­pen.

Miss David­son’s suc­cess in send­ing 13 MPs to West­min­ster kept Theresa May in her job and her pledge to speak out came a day af­ter she called for an ‘open Brexit’, which would pri­ori­tise eco­nomic growth, po­ten­tially putting her on a col­li­sion course with the Prime Min­is­ter.

But asked about calls for Mrs May to re­sign, the Scot­tish Tory leader in­sisted ‘there is no va­cancy’.

Mean­while, Lord Dun­lop, ar­chi­tect of the poll tax, has stood down from Govern­ment, which means one of the new MPs will al­most cer­tainly go straight in as a Min­is­ter in the Scot­land Of­fice. It is ex­pected to be ei­ther John La­mont, who won in Ber­wick­shire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, or Dou­glas Ross who beat SNP deputy leader An­gus Robert­son in Mo­ray.

‘This team will aim to de­liver, not di­vide’

 ??  ?? LINE-UP: Ruth poses with her new West­min­ster team in Stir­ling yes­ter­day
LINE-UP: Ruth poses with her new West­min­ster team in Stir­ling yes­ter­day

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