Holyrood election will not be 'Spring referendum' on indyref2 says Douglas Ross

Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross says he won't allow the SNP to turn next year's Holyrood election into a “bitter and angry fight” on the right to stage an independence referendum.

Douglas Ross won't allow next year's Holyrood election to become a 'Spring referendum'
Douglas Ross won't allow next year's Holyrood election to become a 'Spring referendum'

The Moray MP has insisted that he will instead hold the Nationalist administration in Edinburgh to account for it's record in office and claims the the SNP has fallen short in flagship policies like health, education and policing.

He unveiled a tranche of new policies during an address to the the party's Autumn conference. Sweeping new powers and funding for local councils were proposed, along with tougher jail term for assaults on emergency workers and an ambitious review of the infamous "Beeching" closures of local railway stations.

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The Tories will not play the "No campaign" in the SNP's plan to make next year's Holyrood election "a Spring referendum" on whether a fresh vote should be staged on Scotland’s place in the UK, Mr Ross said.

"That's the fight they want to have - they want another bitter and angry fight about the constitution," he said.

"They don't want a debate on their 13 years in Government or how little they have to show for their time in office.

"Be in no doubt the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party I lead will always stand up for Scots who don't want to go through that division and uncertainty again.

"But we'll not fight against a second referendum solely because we oppose separation, but also because we are sick and tired of the same arguments."

He added: "I refuse to play to their rules. I will fight next year's election on my terms and contrast their record in Government with out fresh record for Scotland."

Mr Ross had held out an olive branch to Labour on Saturday, saying he would not rule out closer working after next year's election which may keep the SNP out of power. But this was quickly rebuffed by Richard Leonard who insisted he would be working to thwart Tory Polices, not enact them.

"The fact that the Labour party has come out so strongly to rule this out just shows that they're not as determined as I am to get rid of this tired SNP Government," Mr Ross said yesterday.

The policies set out by Mr Ross in his keynote speech would see councils handed a "set proportion" of 36% of the Scottish Government's budget and this will be enshrined in law. The power of Scottish Government planning "reporters" to overturn decisions made by local councils will also be stopped under an incoming Tory administration.

High Street stores could also be exempt from business rates in an effort to allow them to compete with online retailers, under proposed powers for councils to introduce exemptions.

All the old "Beeching lines" which were closed in the 1960s in Scotland will also be reviewed and could be re-open if they help contribute to economic growth.

The Moray MP, who wife Krystle is a police officer, also said the 12 month maximum sentence for assaulting emergency workers will be doubled.

The notorious "Not Proven verdict" will also be scrapped if the Tories come to power.

"We would end the confusion and the distress this verdict brings for the victims of the most horrific crimes," Mr Ross added.

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