Scotland could win independence from SNP next month, say Scottish Tories

Douglas Ross speaks during the official launch of his party's General Election campaign at the Royal George Hotel in Perth.
Douglas Ross speaks during the official launch of his party's General Election campaign at the Royal George Hotel in Perth - Andrew Milligan

Scotland can win its independence from the SNP on July 4 by ousting Nationalist MPs across the country, Douglas Ross has said as another poll predicted they will be routed.

Launching the Scottish Tory election campaign, he said the country was  at a “tipping point” with “substantially more” people wanting the SNP to be ousted from power than wanting to keep them there.

Mr Ross said voters have a chance to “bring the curtain down on the SNP’s domination of Scottish politics” and give them “an election nightmare that is long overdue.”

Mocking Nationalist claims Scotland will emulate the US by making July 4 its independence day, he said that “for once they might be write.”

“Because I think July 4 will be the day Scotland finally votes to be free of the SNP. The day we end the era of Salmond, Sturgeon and Swinney. The day we finish the job and get the nationalists out for good,” he said.

Speaking in First Minister John Swinney’s political stronghold of Perth, he said that the SNP “have never looked weaker” thanks to “all the scandal and sleaze weighing them down”.

But he warned Scots that they needed to vote Tory in seats where it was a straight fight with the SNP, saying that “while they may be down, they are not yet out.”

“If you stay at home, then you risk letting them win by the slimmest of margins and using that win as a mandate to campaign for independence,” he concluded.

The launch event came as a poll found 36 per cent of Scots intend to vote Labour in the election, with backing for the SNP falling six points over the last two months to 32 per cent.

The survey, conducted by Survation between 23 and 27 May for the True North PR agency, showed Conservative and Liberal Democrat support largely unchanged at 17 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

This would mean the SNP being reduced to 16 MPs, down from the 48 they won in the 2019 election, after suffering huge losses across Central Belt Scotland.

Labour would once again become the largest party at Westminster,  surging from the one seat it won in 2019 to 28, while the number of Scottish Tory MPs over the same period would increase from six to eight. The Liberal Democrats would win five.

In another blow to Mr Swinney, his repeated claim to be the most popular political leader in Scotland was contradicted by the poll, which gave the accolade to Sir Keir Starmer. He was also less popular than Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader.

The Scottish Tories are hoping to hold the six seats they won in the 2019 general election in the Borders and the North East, and take up to six more from the SNP.

Following boundary changes, the notionally SNP-held targets are Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey; Angus and Perthshire Glens; Perth and Kinross-shire; Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock; East Renfrewshire; and Argyll and Bute.

Although a Westminster rather than Holyrood election is being held, Tory insiders have said the SNP is viewed as the incumbent in many key seats after being in power for 17 years.

They said voters want to use the election to give the Nationalists a kicking over their performance on devolved domestic issues such as the health service and education.

Mr Ross said: “It’s the opportunity we’ve been waiting for - the chance to say no more to the nationalists. On July 4, we can wipe the yellow off the map and put blue on the board in Scotland.

“I am confident that we can play the essential part in ensuring that the SNP have their worst election night in more than a decade.”

He warned Unionists that backing a different party, including Reform, in seats that the Tories could win risked an SNP MP being elected.

Mr Ross warned Mr Swinney “has been at the heart of the nationalist cabal that has run Scotland for the last 17 years” and highlighted his actions in government, including presiding over the decline of schools in international league tables when Education Secretary.

Having knocked on doors in “every part of our country”, he said Scots including some independence supporters are “just fed up with this SNP government.”

In contrast to SNP MPs’s “obsession” with independence, he said Tory MPs would  “ focus over the next five years onto creating good jobs, reducing NHS waiting lists and investing to improve our public services.

Sir Keir was the most popular Westminster party leader, with a net approval rating of +3 - the difference between the number of people who like and dislike him.

In comparison, Rishi Sunak’s rating was -38 per cent. Mr Sarwar’s rating was -3 per cent, Mr Swinney’s -7 per cent and Mr Ross’s -22 per cent.

Prof Sir John Curtice, the country’s most eminent psephologist, said Mr Swinney was more popular than Humza Yousaf but his rating was “well below” Nicola Sturgeon’s. Support for the SNP has fallen four points from the start of the year.

“Fewer than two in three of those who would vote Yes in an independence referendum are currently minded to vote for the party,” he said

“As a result, Labour now have a clear lead in Westminster vote intentions for the first time since the 2014 independence referendum.”

Pete Wishart, the SNP MP and candidate for Perth and Kinross-Shire, said: “We need to get rid of the Tory Government. The way to do that in Scotland is to vote SNP, because we are the main challengers in every Tory-held seat.”