Ruth Davidson has warned that another vote on Scottish independence could lead to “fratricidal conflict”.
Speaking at the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the leader of Scotland’s Conservatives also said she did not want the country to join “post-Trump America and pre-election France as this year’s focal point for global instability”.
She acknowledged most people were not “cheerleaders” for Brexit but insisted that the majority did “not want our departure from the European Union, and all the division that brings, to trigger another referendum on our own union of nations, with all the division that brings too”.
Ms Davidson said there were also “many independence supporters who simply believe now is not the right time to be opening up another wound”.
She added: “The SNP is now hoping to soften us up by telling us we’ll just have to accept [another referendum].
“It is the language of the bully pulpit. The attacks on the UK are grave distortions. It doesn’t speak of a party confident of its case. It smacks of desperation - and I urge the SNP to take a different path.”
Last year’s EU referendum saw 62 per cent of Scottish voters support continued membership of the bloc.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has since published a plan for Scotland to stay in the EU single market after Brexit.
The proposals would require the UK to sacrifice some demands in talks with the other 27 EU states. They would also involve the devolution of powers over immigration, work and international deals.
SNP leaders have hit back at Ms Davidson’s comments, accusing her of “flip-flopping” to please senior Conservative figures at Westminster.
A spokesman said: “The Tories have completely lost the plot - and Ruth Davidson’s use of inflammatory language by comparing legitimate political debate as fratricidal conflict just shows how rattled she is.
“And no wonder, given her role as apologist-in-chief for right-wing Westminster Tories who now think they can do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it.
“Ruth Davidson misled the people of Scotland in the independence referendum when she claimed a No vote guaranteed our place in Europe, and she is now a champion of Brexit having previously claimed the case was built on lies.
“That just shows how she flip-flops on issues at the drop of a hat simply to please her Tory bosses in Westminster.”