The leader of the Scottish Tories will today say Ms Sturgeon has put “party before pandemic” and risked Scotland’s recovery by ramping up the push for another referendum.
Responding to the SNP’s recent announcements of a “roadmap” to indyref2 this year, the Moray MP claimed Scots want “100 per cent focus on the vaccine rollout and our recovery”.
He will say: “Nicola Sturgeon is back to being the SNP leader. She’s no longer the First Minister from the start of this pandemic.
“There is no getting away from it, the timing of this plan is reckless and irresponsible.
“She has put party before pandemic and risked damaging trust in the government when it is needed most.
“When she pushes for indyref2 this year, the public cannot trust Nicola Sturgeon to do the right thing.”
In a speech billed as the unionist response, Mr Ross will also call for politicians to work together to get through the pandemic.
He will say: “We are living under a national lockdown and in the middle of a global pandemic.
“The Scottish Fiscal Commission are predicting our economy and job market won’t return to normal until about 2024.
“It is the duty of all politicians to come together and focus on the national interest in a time of crisis.
“So you can imagine the sheer outrage that people across the country felt when the SNP launched a new indyref2 taskforce and an 11-point plan to deliver a Catalonia-style referendum.
“It has brought politics – and that same, old divisive constitutional debate – back to the fore.
“How can the Scottish Government credibly argue that this announcement is above party politics and in the interests of all of Scotland?”
Ms Sturgeon last week insisted a second vote would be Scotland's will if the SNP won May's elections.
She said: “If the SNP win the Scottish election in a few months’ time on the proposition of giving the Scottish people that choice, then what democrat could rightly stand in the way of that?
“That’s democracy. It’s not about what I want or about what Boris Johnson wants, it’s about what the people of Scotland want and the increasing evidence is that they want independence.”
SNP deputy leader Keith Brown claimed his party were “determined” to give people a choice in how they were governed.
He said: "This is a patently ridiculous and deeply hypocritical attack from a party more interested in desperate soundbites than working constructively to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Scottish Government is absolutely focused on tackling the pandemic, which remains everyone’s top priority, and paused work on independence last year at the start of the Covid crisis – unlike the Tories who disgracefully ploughed ahead with Brexit in the middle of the pandemic.
“Just yesterday, Alister Jack was attacking the First Minister's commitment to keeping the public updated and informed through daily public health briefings – now his colleague is claiming the opposite. They're clearly in panic mode, but people in Scotland will see right through this bizarre outburst.
"While Douglas Ross carps from the sidelines, the First Minister will continue to be fully focused on helping steer the country through this crisis."