Ruth Davidson has said there is a “close to 50 per cent” chance the Conservatives can claim the scalp of SNP depute leader Angus Robertson in the general election.
The Scottish Tory leader said defeating the high-profile Nationalist, who leads the SNP at Westminster, would be “a real Ed Balls moment for Scotland”.
At an event in Edinburgh, Ms Davidson predicted a “titanic battle” in Mr Robertson’s Moray constituency and claimed her party would benefit from Brexit voters as well as “furious” pro-UK Remainers.
Ms Davidson stepped up her attacks as her party marked the tenth anniversary of the SNP coming to power by claiming the Nationalists had presided over a decade of broken promises.
Ms Davidson said there were many pro-UK and pro-EU voters who were angered that the SNP had “hi-jacked” their Remain vote to campaign for Scottish independence.
“It is very pro-Union part of the country and as you know it was one of the most pro-Brexit areas of Scotland,” the Scottish Tory leader said after making a speech to activists in Edinburgh’s G&V Royal Mile Hotel.
“I also think for those people – the 50.1 per cent of people in Moray that voted Remain – similar to the thousands of people across Scotland that voted Remain that are also pro-Union, they are really angry. I don’t think anybody in the press has actually cottoned on as to how angry pro-UK Remainers are that Nicola Sturgeon, Angus Robertson and others have hi-jacked their Remain vote to be a proxy vote for independence. They are furious about it.”
She added: “Should Angus Robertson fall it is a real Ed Balls moment for Scotland.”
Two years ago the loss of his Morley and Outwood seat by the then shadow chancellor was seen as a potent symbol of Labour’s failure under Ed Miliband.
Ms Davidson also said she would “love” to see the Tory Ian Duncan defeat the veteran Nationalist Pete Wishart in Perth and North Perthshire.
Earlier Ms Davidson joked that Ms Sturgeon was the “Nat out of hell” referring to a campaign trail picture of the SNP leader on a motorbike “festooned” with Yes stickers.
Ms Sturgeon brushed off Ms Davidson’s claims that Mr Robertson’s seat was under threat. On a walk-about at the foot of Leith Walk in Edinburgh, the SNP leader, asked if she was concerned about her depute leader’s political future, replied: “No, absolutely not. Angus is not only a really strong local MP in Moray with a great deal of respect for the work he’s done locally, but I think as anybody will have observed over the last couple of years he’s been the only effective leader of the opposition in the House of Commons.
“So Angus is a fantastic MP, a fantastic deputy leader, has been a fantastic leader of the group and I’m confident he’ll continue to be all of these things after the election.”
The SNP leader attacked Ms Davidson’s stance on the UK government’s two child tax credit cap and associated rape clause. Earlier in the day the Tory leader said she supported the cap, after she was challenged by reporters about claims by the charity Turn2Us that the policy was encouraging women to have abortions.
“I think that’s shocking,” said Ms Sturgeon. “The story yesterday about people perhaps opting for abortion because of the benefit cap is one that would appal every right thinking person.
“I think that when you are faced with these kind of issues, you have to decide what side you are on. If Ruth Davidson would rather defend benefit cuts than stand up for women...then I think that tells you everything you need to know about the role that Tory MPs from Scotland would play.
“They wouldn’t be there to stand up for Scotland. They would be there to back a Tory government regardless of what that Tory government was doing.”