Jackson Carlaw has pledged to supporters of the Union that his party will continue to oppose an IndyRef2, despite what he described as a “disappointing” election result for the Tories in Scotland.
Speaking in Glasgow today, the Scottish Conservatives leader said there was “no way of getting round the fact that going from 13 to six MPs in Scotland is a disappointment to us”.
While the Tories recorded their best result in England and Wales since 1992, the party fared less well north of the Border as the SNP swept to a second landslide victory in four years.
Nicola Sturgeon claimed the result proved the Scottish electorate agreed with her that it was “for the Scottish Parliament – not a Westminster government - to decide whether and when there should be a new referendum on independence.”
But that stance was flatly rejected by Mr Carlaw.
He said: “I have already heard Nicola Sturgeon claim that last night’s result was a mandate for a second referendum on independence. Of course, up until 10pm last night that was not the story told by the SNP, it was they said about stopping Brexit and blocking Boris.
“None the less the SNP has reverted to form and decided to take the vote it won yesterday as a free pass for a referendum next year.
“I’m clear - her plan would take us back to more division and chaos. Imagine, just as the rest of the UK is set to move on and put constitutional division and referendums behind it, Scotland would remain stuck - the one part of this country still trapped in the divisive arguments of the past.
“I want to reassure the 700,000 people who gave us their support yesterday that we still stand firmly as we do before, and say to them directly: You voted for us to stop that referendum, and we will not let you down.
“The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation event, and should be respected as such.”
Asked if he took responsibility for the party’s relatively poor performance in Scotland, Mr Carlaw said it was their second best result since 1992 and cemented its position as the main opposition party to the SNP.
He continued: “Winning nearly 700,000 votes across the country is a fantastic achievement. Unlike Labour, last night we largely maintained our share of the vote with our second best showing since 1992.
“Most importantly of all, we will now be part of a majority government at Westminster. This is good news for Scotland. It means the gridlock and paralysis we have seen at Westminster can come to an end and we don’t have to fear the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn government.
“I have already spoken to the prime minister. I’m confident he will next week put forward a unifying agenda that will put strengthening of the Union at its heart, making sure Union of four nations works for all its people.”
On the diverging results in Scotland and England, Mr Carlaw said: “I don’t think Scotland was so terribly different from the rest of the UK. The story across the whole of the UK was the collapse of the Labour party. In the north-east of England that collapse broke in favour of the Brexit party, and here in Scotland it broke in favour of the SNP.”