The Scottish Mail on Sunday
We’re Scotland’s real champions
Buoyant Davidson parks her tanks on SNP lawn
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’