Douglas Ross: Unionists 'downed tools' after 2014 referendum

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said unionists “downed tools” after the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 while nationalists continued to campaign.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross spoke to The Scotsman's political podcast, The Steamie.Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross spoke to The Scotsman's political podcast, The Steamie.
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross spoke to The Scotsman's political podcast, The Steamie.

Speaking on The Steamie, The Scotsman’s political podcast, the Moray MP said the failure of the SNP and other pro-independence parties to accept the result saw unionist politicians on the back foot.

However he denied that the failure of unionists to predict such a response from nationalists was naivety.

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Asked why support for remaining part of the United Kingdom had failed to make a breakthrough in the polls following the 2014 independence referendum, Mr Ross said the expectation was both sides would “respect the result”.

He said: “There is still strong support for remaining part of the UK.

"I do think that the vast majority of us on the pro-UK side downed tools after 2014 because we were told there would be a once in a generation, one opportunity to vote to stay in the UK or leave the UK and become an independent country and both sides agreed to accept the result.

"So when in September 2014, 55 per cent of people in Scotland voted to remain in the UK, we thought there we go, we have done that, we have convinced people in a campaign, now we can move on to other issues.

"But of course the nationalists never accepted that result.

"They are perfectly entitled to still believe in independence but they did say they would accept the result of the referendum and they have campaigned every single day every since to have another independence referendum to get the result they want and I think that’s been part of it.”

Mr Ross was asked if such an approach was naivety on the side of unionists given the SNP’s main political argument is for the establishment of an independent Scotland.

The Scottish Tory leader responded: “I wouldn’t call it naivety I just think that when both sides agree to respect the result I can imagine what independence supporters would say if I had spent from the day after the referendum in 2014 if it had gone the other way, campaigning for Scotland to rejoin the UK, they would have been up in arms.

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"They would have said you said you would respect the result and you are not doing that. I think that they have to accept that is a criticism.”

The MP, who is hoping to become an MSP in May’s Holyrood elections, was also asked whether he liked his Westminster boss, Boris Johnson, whose approval ratings in Scotland are extremely low.

He said: "He doesn’t ignore these poll ratings. He sees poll ratings as anyone else does and he understands people like him and people don’t, and that’s the nature of politics.

"I do work closely with him, we’re in regular contact, I also resigned from his government.

“I both agree with the Prime Minister, I disagree with the Prime Minister and I have shown by my actions that I do what I think is right rather than simply what the Prime Minister would want me to do.

Readers can listen to the full interview with Mr Ross on The Steamie.

The Steamie is available from all of your favourite podcast providers, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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