Independence is ‘old-fashioned’ says Tory leader

Independence is an old-fashioned idea which is out of step with the “devolution generation” of young people, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has claimed.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said young people wanted to live in a country without borders or barriers. Picture: John Devlin

She said rather than dividing the United Kingdom, young Scots want to live in a country “without borders or barriers”. The MSP delivered a speech in Glasgow yesterday as she made her first address for the pro-UK Better Together campaign in the run-up to September’s referendum.

With 16- and 17-year-olds across the country voting for the first time in the ballot, her speech was focused on younger voters. Ms Davidson said if giving the vote to the younger age group was a “ploy” by the Scottish Government to win more votes for independence, it had “clearly failed” and that a “overwhelming majority” of them back the Union.

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In an increasingly global society, she argued, young Scots – who have grown up with the Scottish Parliament – expect to be connected to countries across the world.

She told an audience of young voters: “One of the biggest changes that this new connected world has led to is the commonly held view that openness and a border-less world should now be a given.

“And so the idea of dividing the UK, and pencilling in the Border much thicker, feels odd too.”

She argued that independence “goes utterly against the way young people think the world should work”.

The Tory leader continued: “The question is, in a globalised world, why do something as old-fashioned as to draw a line on a map, to create divisions where divisions had been removed?”

Ms Davidson gave her speech alongside Better Together supporter Katie Armour, 20, pictured left, a history student at St Andrews. She told the meeting the SNP’s decision to hand 16- and 17-year-olds the vote in the referendum had “backfired”. Ms Armour said: “Debate after debate sees young people saying No Thanks in favour of staying in the UK.”

The claims came ahead of a speech by Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins today, when he will state that a vote for independence “will safeguard our valued public services and offer an alternative to Westminster austerity”.