The Scottish Conservative leader said it would turn her into the “worst kind of hypocrite” to oppose a second independence referendum in Scotland while opening the door to a re-run of the Brexit vote. Ms Davidson used yesterday’s speech to the Conservative conference in Birmingham to issue a fresh appeal for party unity on Brexit and drive home the message the Tories could beat the SNP in the next Scottish election.
But in a warning to her former allies in the Remain camp during the Brexit campaign, Ms Davidson said it was “time to move on” and ruled out her support for a second EU vote. It came as three former Conservative ministers, Justine Greening, Philip Lee and Anna Soubry, held an unofficial fringe meeting yesterday to argue for a referendum on the terms of Brexit.
Ms Davidson said: “Those of us in Scotland have been at this for some time already.
“Four years ago, the SNP told Scotland they’d respect the independence referendum result and for four long years, they’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing to have another go – and to keep going ‘til they get the result they want.
“My response and the Prime Minister’s response has been clear. The people of Scotland spoke. They said No. It’s time to move on.”
The Scottish Tory leader added: “You don’t get to demand a re-run just because you didn’t get what you want.”
Having definitively ruled out a bid for the Tory leadership and the keys to Number 10, Ms Davidson told Tory members the only job she wanted was to lead the next Scottish Government.
“Scotland has had enough of the negativity, the grievance, the decade-long moan,” she said of the SNP. “Instead, we want to crack on. So yes, there is a job I’m after. It’s the job of First Minister of Scotland.”
Ms Davidson, who was given rapturous applause at the Tory conference in Birmingham, called on members to unite and rally behind Theresa May and her Brexit plan.
The Scottish Tory leader also told party members to leave Jeremy Corbyn to his “Labour takeover”. “Let him crack on with all those nine-hour-long meetings of the National Executive Committee he seems to love, let him get on with compositing motions and allowing deselections of long-serving members,” she said.
“Instead, let us get on with facing up to the challenges of the 21st century, which need our attention.”
Today the Scottish secretary David Mundell will echo Ms Davidson’s appeals, telling conference goers the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan for Brexit “delivers a good Brexit for Scotland and the whole of the UK”. “Those who say they want to avoid a no-deal scenario and the risks that entails, should make it clear they support the Chequers proposals,” Mr Mundell will say.
He will also call on Nicola Sturgeon to “end the constitutional uncertainty that we have lived with for the past four years”.
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “Ruth Davidson wants to silence Scotland’s voice. She thinks the people of Scotland should have no right in determining their own future. Denying that opportunity and ignoring the unequivocal mandate that the SNP has ... would be fundamentally undemocratic.”
Scottish Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “When push comes to shove, [Davidson] has put Conservative party unity ahead of the country.”