Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross seems to pride himself on his independence from Boris Johnson. The Moray MP quit his ministerial job at the Scotland Office over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham and yesterday he told Andrew Marr that ‘of course’ the Prime Minister should go if he broke the ministerial code over the funding of his Downing Street flat redecoration.
But the assistant referee might be getting a little too independent, in all senses of the term. Today he participated in a photo-op with former Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who has been a constant by Ross’s side throughout the campaign. The pair posed with giant ballots in front of billboards with the slogan ‘How to stop indy’ and an exhortation to pro-Union voters to back the Scottish Tories on the ‘peach ballot’ — the party list vote in Scotland’s proportional electoral system.
The Scottish Tories then tweeted out these pictures with the pronouncement: ‘An SNP majority is a guarantee of another independence referendum.’ If that line of thinking sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably heard it from Nicola Sturgeon. It is the SNP’s contention that a majority for them at Holyrood will ensure a second referendum on independence. Downing Street’s position is that Scotland decided the matter in 2014 and a pandemic is no time to be resurrecting it.
Which makes the Scottish Tory tweet all the more baffling. If the SNP does win an outright majority on Thursday, it has no power to hold a referendum without Westminster’s permission and no means of forcing Westminster to agree.