‘Weak’ Labour will do backroom deal with SNP on independence vote, Tory claims

The SNP are hoping to strike a “backroom deal” with Labour to secure a second independence referendum, the Scottish Tory deputy leader has said.

Meghan Gallacher insisted any such deal would be “sleekit” – a Scots word which means crafty or deceitful – as she warned Labour would be “weak on the Union” if Sir Keir Starmer does not win a majority in the next general election.

Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf has already made clear that the powers to hold a second independence referendum would be the price he would demand if his party is needed to prop up a Labour administration.

But instead of planning for a second vote on Scotland’s place in the UK, Ms Gallacher argued the SNP’s  independence plans need to be “scrapped altogether”, saying the governing party in Scotland should be focused on the “real priorities” of voters north of the border.

Sir Keir Starmer (Danny Lawson/PA)
Sir Keir Starmer (Danny Lawson/PA)

Addressing the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow, Ms Gallacher said: “The SNP independence strategy doesn’t need to be changed, it should be scrapped altogether.

“Humza Yousaf should focus on the real priorities of Scottish people, not the selfish priorities of the SNP.”

She added: “And at the heart of this plan is a sleekit backroom deal with Labour to demand indyref2 – as the price of SNP support for a Keir Starmer Government.

“Humza Yousaf would never in his wildest dreams expect any Conservative government to barter away the future of our country.

“That is because the SNP suspect what we already know – Labour are weak on the Union.”

Her comments came as she used her speech to attack the SNP, which has been engulfed in turmoil since Nicola Sturgeon stepped down as leader – with a police investigation into the party’s finances which has seen Ms Sturgeon’s husband and former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell questioned by the police.

Making her first conference speech since returning from maternity leave earlier this year, Ms Gallacher hit out: “I would trust my new-born child with our vital public services before I trusted Humza Yousaf’s government.”

She claimed the SNP had “given up on running our country” adding that “we used to say that they were incompetent now we say they are incapable”.

Speaking about the former first minister, the Tory MSP claimed Ms Sturgeon had “lost everything” including “any credibility she had during her time in office”.

The Scottish Tory added: “Her legacy is nothing more than division and secrecy.

“She leaves office in disgrace.”

The SNP leadership election resulted in Mr Yousaf – who Ms Gallacher branded “Hapless Humza” – becoming both SNP leader and Scottish First Minister.

With the SNP “falling apart before our very eyes” she insisted it was the Conservatives who could offer voters an alternative.

Seeking to contrast the Tories with the SNP, Ms Gallacher said her party was “bursting with ideas and ready to take those ideas and our positive vision to the country”.

She stated: “The Scottish people are looking for anyone to deliver fresh solutions to the old and new challenges our country faces.

“They know that this SNP government is falling apart before our very eyes.”

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said: “At the general election next year, voting SNP is the best way to beat the Tories in Scotland – and the only way to get rid of Westminster Tory governments for good with independence.

“If enough people vote SNP, Scotland could hold the balance of power at Westminster.

“A strong SNP team of MPs would block the Tories from government and extract the best deal for Scotland.”