Nicola Sturgeon “does not speak for Scotland” by raising the prospect of a second independence referendum in the wake of the Brexit vote, Ruth Davidson will insist today.
The Scottish Conservative leader will tell Tory members that the majority of Scots want to “move on” from the debate about leaving the UK, and will urge them to dismiss the view that independence is now “inevitable”.
The First Minister said a second vote on the country’s constitutional future is “highly likely” after the UK voted to leave the EU, but the majority of Scots voted to stay.
But Ms Davidson has accused Ms Sturgeon of promoting instability and “doubling down on division”.
Today she will tell the conference: “There is nothing inevitable about the break-up of this great nation and I for one will fight it every inch, and so will thousands with me.
“The SNP doesn’t speak for all of Scotland. And nor does it have the right to.
“Every nation is bigger than any one party - bigger than any one person.
“And Scotland is bigger, more varied, more complex, than the nation the SNP would like to pretend it is.
“So, next time you see Nicola Sturgeon picking a fight, or trying to claim the United Kingdom is over, remember, she does not speak for the country.
“And, when she threatens to put yet another divisive referendum back on the table, the nation is not behind her.
“She’s not speaking for the majority. Because the majority of us want to move on.
“The majority have no wish to return to the divisions of the past - we want to seize the opportunities of the future.”
An SNP spokesman said Ms Davidson was becoming “an apologist for the hardline Brexiteers now running the Tory party instead of standing up for Scotland”.
He said: “Every part of Scotland voted to remain in Europe, and yet the Tories - with just one MP out of 59 in Scotland - want to drag us out of the EU against our will. It is the starkest possible demonstration of the democratic deficit.
“Tory attempts to shut down debate, with Theresa May and Ruth Davidson going out of their way to say Scotland’s voice and interests don’t matter, signal an utterly bizarre approach from a party who claim they want to keep the UK together.
“Nicola Sturgeon was elected First Minister, and so has every right to speak for Scotland in negotiating a secure future for our country in the wake of the Tories’ Brexit shambles.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Ruth Davidson is right that Nicola Sturgeon does not speak for Scotland, but Ruth Davidson should stop pretending she speaks for the union.
“The Conservatives have done more damage to Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom than the Scottish nationalists could ever dream of.
“Brexit and stirring up English nationalism have risked our United Kingdom and the Conservatives are responsible for both.”