DAVID Cameron has issued a “find him, fire him” ultimatum over the controversial leaked Nicola Sturgeon memo – with senior Tories appearing to point the finger at Liberal Democrats.
Tory leader in Scotland Ruth Davidson warned that Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael faces trouble when the official leak inquiry “catches up with him and his adviser”.
He is happy to ride into Downing St on [SNP] coat tailsDavid Cameron on Ed Miliband
The Prime Minister yesterday took a hard line over the leaking of the civil service account of the memo which claimed Ms Sturgeon preferred a Tory victory in the election – a claim rejected as “100 per cent untrue” by the First Minister.
Mr Cameron, speaking as he hit the campaign trail in Edinburgh, said: “I abhor the leaking of documents. We need to be able to have private diplomatic conversations.
“There’s a proper leak inquiry going on and I want to get to the bottom of.
“This is not acceptable.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson later indicated that the Liberal Democrat side of the coalition was behind the leak.
“The Prime Minister is absolutely fuming,” Ms Davidson said.
“He hates leaks anyway but this one is like a personal affront as it involves not just the integrity of his own government but the integrity with which it deals with a devolved administration and representatives of a foreign ally.
“The way he was talking it was a real ‘find him, finger him, fire him’ message.
“He wants to send a message. I wouldn’t want to be Alistair Carmichael or his adviser when the leak inquiry catches up with them.”
UK Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has ordered an inquiry into how a memo – which claims that Ms Sturgeon told French ambassador Sylvie Bermann that she would prefer to see Conservatives remain in power after the 7 May poll – got into the public domain.
Mr Carmichael has confirmed the memo, containing an account of a private meeting between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador, was written in the Scotland Office, but claimed “these things happen” during an election campaign.
The Prime Minister was in the Scottish capital yesterday as part of a whistle-stop tour of all four home UK nations and warned that Ms Sturgeon is wrong about the “big questions of our time”.
The SNP leader’s vision of an independent Scotland, as well as her economic plan to borrow more, were dismissed by the Tory leader.
“Clearly the election here in Scotland is crucial and we have a very clear message which is if you want a non-Socialist alternative to the SNP, there is only one choice and that is the Conservatives led by Ruth Davidson.” He said the prospect of Ed Miliband in Downing Street with a Labour majority, or propped up by the SNP, will mean more “taxes, spending and debt” for Scots.
“Nicola Sturgeon wants two things. She wants to break up the United Kingdom – we’re totally opposed to that,” the Prime Minister added.
“And she wants more borrowing, more spending, more taxes, more debt and I totally oppose that.
“I think she’s wrong on the two big questions of our time.
“That’s why we’re not only fighting a strong campaign here, but we’re also warning of the danger of this alliance, potentially, between the people who want to bankrupt Britain and the people who want to break up Britain. The only way to avoid that is a Conservative majority government.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband should be clearer about the prospect of working with the SNP after the election, Mr Cameron added. “At the moment he’s failing to speak out because he’s quite happy to ride into Downing Street on their coat tails,” the Tory leader said.
And despite polls at the weekend suggesting the Tories could lose their solitary Scottish seat in the Borders, Mr Cameron insisted he had no “second choice” among the other parties north of the Border.
The Liberal Democrats’ are poised to be “knocked out the park” in the forthcoming vote, which could offer hope for the Tories. “They’re effectively losing their deposits across Scotland if you look at the recent polls,” he said. “For all those people in Scotland who want a non-Socialist alternative, but not to break up the United Kingdom, there is only one choice and that’s a Conservative government.
“All those people who back enterprise, who back families, who want to keep on with this incredible job creation record where there are 174,000 more people in work in Scotland than when I became Prime Minister, if you want to keep all of that there’s only one choice. All the other choices lead in a different direction.”
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