Ruth Davidson vows to end ‘constitutional games’ and let Scotland thrive

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will use her conference speech to focus on the choice facing Scots in the next Holyrood election Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Ruth Davidson will insist Scotland does not need independence to thrive as she sets out her positive vision for the country’s future.

While First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second vote on leaving the UK within the next two years, the Scottish Tory leader will pledge to end the “constitutional games”.

Ms Davidson is bidding to replace Ms Sturgeon and become Scotland’s next first minister, with the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen – which marks her return to front-line politics after maternity leave – the start of that campaign.

As she closes the event, Ms Davidson will say: “I’ll make a firm guarantee now: If I am elected Scotland’s next first minister, there will be no more constitutional games and no more referenda. We’ve had enough to last a lifetime.”

Her speech will focus on the choice Scots will face in the next Holyrood election in 2021 – by which time the SNP will have been in power in Edinburgh for 14 years.

Ms Davidson will say that nationalists will be “arguing that they can’t make things better without putting us all through another referendum first”.

She will add: “I have a more positive view of Scotland’s future.

“I reject their mantra that says we have to have a break up before we can possibly hope to prosper.

“I don’t see Scotland as subjugated, put upon or as held back.

“Our message is that we can prosper now. That we can back our businesses, build up our institutions and give future generations the skills to take on all comers.

“That right here, right now, Scotland can take on the world. There’s nothing stopping us.

“So that’s the choice. Between an SNP that doesn’t believe we can thrive for years into the future. And my team – which wants to get on with building a better Scotland now.”

The Scottish Tory leader will go on to stress the “more fundamental difference” between her party and that of Ms Sturgeon.

While the SNP “chant that they’re about standing up for Scotland”, Ms Davidson will argue: “I don’t believe you’re standing up for Scotland by making people in Scotland out to be helpless.

“I don’t believe you’re standing up for Scotland by flying to America and telling them that your country is being held back.

“Nor by opening the curtains on a sunny day and spending your time searching the horizon for a dark cloud. Then blaming it on Westminster.

“I don’t believe we’re helpless. Nor that we’re being held back. And enough nationalist dark clouds.”

Ms Davidson will make clear: “I think standing up for Scotland is meaningless if you’re not standing up for the quality of life of the people of Scotland, who just want a government that puts their interests first for once.

“So as first minister, I won’t use every engagement with the UK Government as a chance to sow division. I’ll use it as a chance to deliver better government for the people who live here.

“I want to live in a country that ‘will’, that ‘shall’, that ‘can’ act, and can act right now. So we’re not fighting each other – but fighting for each other.”