Party disunity

Ross dismayed by rejection of pro-union coalition

Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar

Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar

UPDATED 28 March: Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been accused of “ignoring the elephant in the room” after rejecting calls to form a Unionist coalition against independence.

Tory leader Douglas Ross called on the main opposition parties to work together and said it was “naive in the extreme” to ignore the threat from the SNP and the Alba Party.

Mr Ross launched a unionist manifesto and asked all major pro-UK parties to back it, as a show of unity against what he sees as an increased threat of an independence.

He was responding to former SNP leader Alex Salmond’s claim that his new Alba party would create a “super-majority” for independence. He wants Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie to sign up to the manifesto in an echo of the Better Together campaign.

Mr Sarwar firmly rejected Mr Ross’s call while the LibDems campaign chairman Alistair Carmichael called the Tory leader “divisive”.

Mr Ross said: “They are ignoring the elephant in the room that while we will all agree that the focus has to be on our recovery from Covid-19 and rebuilding from the pandemic, we can’t do that while the nationalists are determined to take us through another divisive and damaging independence referendum.

“The threat of a Scottish Parliament focused entirely on breaking up the UK for the next five years, instead of on the essential task of rebuilding our country, is now very real,” said Mr Ross in correspondence with other opposition party leaders.

“We must meet this new threat with an equally strong response.”

He proposes a three-pronged manifesto that means a vote against a second independence referendum regardless of the result in May’s election, ruling out a coalition or confidence deal with any party which seeks to hold an independence referendum in the next Parliament, and agreeing to form a pro-UK, anti-referendum coalition if the opportunity arises.

“This manifesto can be the starting point for greater co-operation between pro-UK parties, nothing is off the table,” he said.

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