Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and her Labour counterpart Kezia Dugdale took the independence debate to London last night, both insisting that there was insufficient appetite for another vote, or for separation.
Ms Davidson said the SNP must reject the path of “economic nationalism” and should build a country that “pushes at our boundaries, instead of building walls”.
She said the SNP has sought to use the UK’s vote to leave the EU as a reason to ramp up its campaign for another referendum..
Instead it has made the case for Scottish independence “weaker and more illogical than ever”, she said.
She acknowledged the campaigning tactics of the SNP and said the UK needs to face up to a government in Holyrood which has watched the tactics of the Leave campaign, learned from them, and is now “itching to get its own campaign bus into gear”.
She said a key argument against independence will be on trade – pointing to how Scotland’s trade with the UK is worth four times that of exports to the EU.
Voting to leave the UK in response to Brexit would be akin to “stubbing your toe, to then amputate your foot”, she said.
“The SNP is a formidable political operation which – I suspect – has learnt from the tactics of the Leave campaign last year and is itching to get its own campaign bus into gear as we speak.
“So my view is that the case for the Union must be made afresh, and we have to persuade people once again that our own Union of nations still works for us all.
“And there is something of a Brexit paradox here.
“Because while Brexit has provided the means for Nicola Sturgeon to crank up her independence campaign once more – it has also made that case weaker and more illogical than ever.
“As we learned only last month in official Scottish Government statistics, trade within the UK internal market is worth four times to Scotland than trade with the EU.
“The logic is therefore clear.
“If everyone in Scotland agrees that free trade with Europe is important – and we do – it is literally impossible to deny that trade with the rest of the UK matters four times as much.
“But rather than accept that logic, the same old nationalist contortions are applied.
“It is already cranking up the grievance machine in an attempt to push people towards the exit door.”
Ms Dugdale argued that a more federal UK will begin to fix the “failures of politics” which, she said, had led to a “leap into the dark” with Brexit and independence.
Fleshing out her proposals for a People’s Constitutional Convention, she said the rise of populism should necessitate a change in how the UK governs itself, with power brought closer to local communities.
Ms Dugdale also told an audience at University College that “Brexit represented a failure of our politics.
“People willing to take a leap in the dark and vote for independence represented a failure of our politics.
“And in the face of it, governing parties haven’t just ignored the problem. They’ve doubled down on the disastrous policies that got us here in the first place.
“And now, even after all that we’ve gone through; we’re making the same mistakes again.
“How could we possibly go through the past decade, and face the next decade, and believe that the way we govern ourselves doesn’t need to change?”
On Scottish Labour’s plan for a People’s Constitutional Convention, she said: “Our proposal seeks to build out from the benefits we already derive from being part of the UK, and it would bring power closer to people.
“It does mean more powers for the Scottish Parliament – starting with those powers in devolved areas that will return from Brussels in the coming years.
“These are the proposals that we will take to any constitutional convention in the future, and which I believe would strengthen the UK well into the future.
“”The vast majority of people in Scotland want what the Labour Party wants – a strong Scotland, with a strong Scottish Parliament, inside the United Kingdom.
“I believe that is even truer now after Brexit.
“The hard work of constitutional reform has never been undertaken by either the SNP or the Tories – it’s been achieved by Labour.”