General Election 2019: Two million votes needed for SNP to have indyref2 mandate say Tories

The SNP needs to win more than two million votes if the party ever wants to be able to claim a mandate for a second independence referendum, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has claimed.

A day before voters go the polls, Jackson Carlaw and his predecessor Ruth Davidson, ramped up their "no to indyref2" message, claiming Nicola Sturgeon would use all votes cast for the SNP as support for another vote on independence.

However, Mr Carlaw said that no matter tomorrow's result, there would be no mandate for indyref2 - unless the SNP won a similar number of votes that were cast against independence in 2014.

At the vote five years ago, a total of 2,001,926 people voted No to independence, compared to 1,617,989 who voted Yes, while at the 2017 General Election the SNP won 977,569 votes and 36.9 per cent of the vote share.

Jackson Carlaw and Ruth Davidson have said that unless the SNP has two million votes for it tomorrow, there will be no mandate for a second independence referendum.

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He said: "The main thing for me is to return as many Conservative MPs as we can, but irrespective, we have made it clear that as a matter of principle we believe that the Edinburgh Agreement and the commitment made in 2014 to a "once in a generation referendum" is a principle we won't abandon and we will not support a second independence referendum.

"More than two million people voted against independence and until Nicola Sturgeon has more than two million people voting for the SNP she has no mandate."

He added: "Tomorrow is about winning seats and I'm hopeful and optimistic we return as many Conservative MPs as we can - we were told we would have none when we began this campaign I don't think anyone believes that now.

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"I'm still out there campaigning for every vote we can possibly get. I'm encouraged. I think there's a different shape to the Conservative vote in 2019 to 2017. I think we can see from opinion polls that there are a lot of former Labour working class people looking to the Conservatives to stand up for that 2014 referendum result - we're continuing that process of reaching beyond where our Conservative vote traditionally came from.

100 votes in it

Mr Carlaw admitted that Conservative seats were under pressure, but said the SNP was in the same position, and that the election would be "decided by a few 100 votes in a heck of a lot of seats".

He also hit out at Jeremy Corbyn's stance on a second independence referendum and accused the UK Labour leader of "sacrificing" Scotland for Downing Street. "I know a lot of former Labour voters are disgusted with Jeremy Corbyn who they believe has sold Scotland out in order to get into Downing Street and betrayed that old Labour unionist tradition," he said.

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"They may switch to us in seats we don't win this time, but as we head for the 2021 [Holyrood] election where there is a regional element to the vote, their support will be absolutely critical in that campaign."

"She was so bellicose on indyref2 when she started out - "Jeremy doesn't even need to pick up the phone to me if he doesn't give me it next year" - and that's totally changed and the reason that's changed is because she'll have heard on the doorsteps what I've heard, and that is people don't have the appetite for it," she said.

"Even people who support independence are not up for it next year on her timetable, and want to get past all this constitutional white noise that is, granted, both Brexit and independence, and there is a way to do that. She ramped it up before the election in 2017 and losing all those seats and votes made her put it on pause, and we can do that again. We can make her put it on pause."

"Tell Her Again" slogan

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She said she had found anti-Nicola Sturgeon sentiment on the doorsteps: “In terms of the people that don’t like her, it has got harder. It’s gone from ‘that woman’ to ‘that bloody woman’ to ‘that effing woman’, and that’s where we’re at now.

Those who voted No in 2014 were "projecting their antagonism and resistance of a policy on to a person, which happens a lot in politics," she said.

Asked if that was made worse by her party's latest slogan "Tell Her Again", which has come in for some criticism on social media as being "misogynistic", she said: "There's a genuine sense that people feel they've not been listened to, and that she personally is ignoring what they've said, and said repeatedly.

"You keep it as short and snappy as you can. and that's an easy way to say [to voters] you did it last time and it works, after the 2017 election she said she'd put it on pause - though it lasted five minutes - and there is a way to do that again."

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Mr Carlaw added: "If Alex Salmond had still been the leader the slogan would have been "Tell Him Again". The point is both Ales Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon signed the Edinburgh Agreement, who were leading the SNP, who gave that commitment to the people of Scotland it was a once in a generation vote."

Ms Davidson also warned voters against "lending" votes to the SNP. "Some of her candidates are making social media videos saying "vote for me, it's not for independence, honest lads", and you've got literature going out in Joanna Cherry's seat in Edinburgh South West, and in Perthshire where independence isn't mentioned, but you know afterwards they'll claim those votes for that anyway."

She added: "The Tory vote is really solid and we're pinching Labour and LibDem switchers, and oddly we've got a small but significant strain of SNP voters who voted to Leave. Most are the long marchers, saying we'll vote for you at this election to get Brexit done first then we can get back to independence afterwards. . we won't have long to wait to find out if that's significant or not but it did surprise me.

Working class vote for Boris

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Ms Davidson, who very publicly failed to back Boris Johnson as leader of her party, said that she now admired his "tenacity".

"I was very clear in terms of the leadership election who I supported but in terms of this campaign if it's a choice between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn propped up by Nicola Sturgeon, then I'll vote for Boris Johnson every day of the week and twice on a Sunday and be happy to go door to door to encourage others to do it because I'm genuinely frightened for this country of what Jeremy Corbyn with Nicola Sturgeon pulling the strings would do.

"I have found people who are very strong Boris supporters across the country - what we used to call aspirational working class voters. I'm a middle class Remainer but because he led the Leave campaign and for other reasons there is a very strong support for him in some parts of this country which I don't think I appreciated"

"In terms of what he's offering at this election, people said he couldn't get a deal, he got a deal, there's a plan to move Brexit on to the next stage, he'll stand up against independence unlike Jeremy Corbyn who's pretty much said he'll flog his own granny to Nicola Sturgeon if she puts him in Number 10, so on that basis I'm happy to go door to door to tell people to vote Conservative, and I have been."

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Asked about his reaction to looking at a photo of an ill four-year-old child, sleeping on a Leeds hospital floor, she said: "It wasn't the reaction I would have had, but he can answer for himself, I'm not here to answer for him.

Ms Davidson said that she believed it was possible for the Conservatives to take seats from the SNP, such as Lanark and Hamilton East, where there are 266 votes between the parties, in Central Ayrshire where the Tories are 1500 votes behind , and in Perth and North Perthshire where they are 21 votes behind.

"I want to start seeing some of the seats where we've been competitive being converted," she said. "I think there's a churn but I would like us to get a net increase. There was a pretty strong message sent last time when she [Nicola Sturgeon] lost half a million votes and 21 seats, so the idea they're on this big march back I'm not sure is true. They started talking about getting 50 seats but even they've put their gas at a peep on that."