General Election 2019: Why the Scottish Tories think they can hold on

On the day it became clear there would be a snap general election, I got in touch with a senior Scottish Tory MP to ask how they felt about it. They replied with a single, red-faced angry emoji.

Two months ago, polls suggested the Scottish Tories would be all but wiped out in a snap general election. With the SNP riding high, and the Lib Dems also touting themselves as the only pro-EU, pro-Union force in Remain-voting Scotland, things looked bleak for most of the 13-strong Scottish Tory contingent.

But now, with Boris Johnson visiting Moray on the first campaign swing of the election today, the mood is much more optimistic. What has changed?

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The 2017 contingent of Scottish Tory MPs with then-leader Ruth DavidsonThe 2017 contingent of Scottish Tory MPs with then-leader Ruth Davidson
The 2017 contingent of Scottish Tory MPs with then-leader Ruth Davidson
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The Scottish Tories were hailed as the heroes of the 2017 general election. Theresa May would not have held onto power without them. But in the weeks that followed Boris Johnson’s entry into Downing Street, it appeared they had been sidelined.

His “do or die” pledge to leave the EU even if it meant a no-deal Brexit, his controversial prorogation of parliament, and his brutal sacking of Scottish Secretary David Mundell made many Scottish Tories privately uneasy, even if they kept faith in public.

The shock resignation of Ruth Davidson robbed them of a distinctive standard bearer and gave the party no choice but to fall in line behind the Prime Minister.

But while the country is going to the polls without a fully-ratified Brexit deal, the fact that the Prime Minister was able to get an agreement through the Commons has reassured Tory MPs about the spectre of no-deal.

Polls in Scotland have stabilised, with the Tories staying above 20% and ahead of Labour. Speaking to on Borders MP, they were also confident of being able to soak up much of the Brexit Party vote that won the party an MEP in the European election.

With so many options in Scotland, tactical voting will also be key. Lib Dem voters in Aberdeenshire and Labour voters in East Renfrewshire will be constantly reminded that they risk having an SNP MP if they don’t back the best Unionist prospect.

Nicola Sturgeon is an electoral asset, Scots Tories claim, in a bleak December election where turnout could be low. "If I knock on a door on election day and find a family with their feet up around the Christmas tree, mentioning her name will get them to the polls," one said.

“It isn’t going to be the wipeout that many predict,” another claimed. Indeed, the party is talking up its chances in places like Lanark and Hamilton East, where the Tories came a close second, and East Lothian, where they came third.

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Scottish Tory losses are pencilled in for election night on 12 December - but with every seat counting on the tough road to a majority for Boris Johnson, the fact he’s hit the campaign trail in Scotland early on should be no surprise.