Douglas Ross to promise 'relentless focus on rebuilding Scotland'

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will set out plans for a new scheme promising £500 for anyone looking to retrain in the next Parliament amid a pledge to retain a “relentless focus on rebuilding Scotland”.

The plans would see £500 being made available to anyone for training, with the scheme to start with 100,000 people for two years before becoming universal in 2023 if the Scottish Conservatives win the election in May.

The pledge comes as the SNP called on the MP to agree the Scottish people can choose independence in the future.

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Keith Brown, the SNP’s deputy leader, said the Scottish Conservatives were set to “betray” voters in 2014 by reneging on the promise made in the Smith Commission following the independence referendum that a future vote was a possibility.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross will speak at the Scottish Conservative Virtual Conference.

Mr Ross will set out his plans for a “skills revolution”, paid for by streamlining the Scottish Government’s skills and employment budget alongside additional Barnett consequentials, during his closing speech at his party’s virtual conference today.

He will say: “Faced by a tsunami of unemployment, we need an emergency response that matches the scale of the problem.

"Our Retrain to Rebuild accounts would give people in work the support to learn new skills and progress.

“It would give people struggling for work the chance to rapidly retrain and get a new job or kick-start a new career.

“The benefits would flow to all of us by driving up productivity, attracting more investment, fostering new businesses and ultimately, increasing funding to local services.

“The SNP close doors and limit opportunity, telling people that they have to wait for independence to achieve and get ahead.

“While their top priority will always be indyref2, my party will have a relentless focus on rebuilding Scotland now.

“By stopping an SNP majority, we can get the Scottish Parliament 100 per cent focused on job-protection proposals like Retrain to Rebuild.”

Speaking ahead of Mr Ross’ speech, the SNP’s depute leader said the commitment for a referendum on independence, if chosen by Scottish voters, was in “black-and-white for all to see” in the Smith Commission.

Challenging the Scottish Conservative leader to reaffirm his commitment to the commission, Mr Brown said it was “crystal clear” Scots had the right to choose independence.

He said: “A key principle, agreed by all five parties on the Smith Commission, is a crystal clear commitment that people in Scotland have the democratic right to choose independence.

“That commitment is there in black-and-white for all to see – signed with the seal of approval from the Scottish Tories and their party bosses at Westminster.

“Recent polling shows that the Scottish people’s desire to choose their own future has not dimmed. Now the Tories appear ready to betray the promises made to voters during and after the 2014 independence referendum.

“If Scottish voters in May back the SNP’s plan to hold a post-pandemic referendum, then the Tories have no right to block it.

“Yet Boris Johnson’s remarks show just out of step he and the Tories are with what Scots want. What voters need to know is if Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories are on his party’s side or Scotland’s side.”

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