Ruth Davidson has accused Nicola Sturgeon of trying to “exacerbate” differences between the UK and Scottish governments over access to the single market after Brexit.
The Scottish Conservative leader said she wanted the UK to have the “largest amount of access” to the single market, a position she said she shared with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Over the weekend, the Prime Minister warned the UK could not “keep bits of membership” of the European Union while Ms Sturgeon insisted she was not bluffing about the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum in the event of a “hard” Brexit.
The First Minister has indicated “soft” Brexit could take the issue off the table in the short-term.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Davidson said: “I’ve heard the SNP spinning furiously...about what a massive compromise this is from Nicola Sturgeon and I have to say I find it incredulous that this idea...that we’re not going to force Scotland into a second referendum until we do is some sort of massive compromise. I just don’t accept that at all.
“They promised the people of Scotland that they would accept the independence referendum result and they’re clearly not doing that.
“What I’ve said - and what I agree with the Prime Minister - is that we want to make sure, I think the exact quote that she used at the party conference in October and has repeated many times since, is to make sure that the whole UK gets the largest amount of access to and ability to operate within the single market.”
Ms Davidson said the SNP had “spent the last six months using Brexit to desperately try and whip up extra support for independence”.
“That hasn’t materialised, they’re trying to exacerbate any differences between the UK Government position and the SNP position but, actually, I just don’t think that there is a huge amount there when both the UK Government and the Scottish Government are saying they want the whole UK and Scotland as part of the UK to have the best trading deals around the world, including within the EU single market.
“I think the best deal for the whole UK would be for the whole UK to have the most amount of free trade within the EU that is possible to be negotiated with the other 27 members and an ability outside of the EU, now that we’re leaving, to be able to negotiate trade deals with other countries.”
Ms Davidson also hinted her party may rule out coalitions with the SNP following May’s local government elections.
She said: “I think you’ll find that we’re not doing very many deals with the SNP and you may want to listen to our party conference in March to hear a little bit more on what our views on that are.
“Let’s make the announcement when we make the announcement, but I can’t imagine there’s going to be terribly much appetite to empower the SNP.”