THE Scottish Tory leader has reached out to the other Unionist parties asking them to pledge to forming a “pro-UK, anti-referendum coalition” following the Holyrood election.

Douglas Ross wrote to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish LibDem chief Willie Rennie calling for them to work together to “defeat nationalism and secure Scotland’s place in the UK”.

His request comes after Alex Salmond launched the Alba Party yesterday, which Ross said has “concerned” him.

The National:

Salmond believes his new list party can help to achieve a “supermajority” for independence, and help to secure indyref2 following the May election.

“It is clear that the nationalists are attempting to game this election in order to deliver a supermajority in the Scottish Parliament for a second divisive independence referendum,” Ross wrote.

“In 2014 we put aside our differences and united as Better Together to say no, defeat nationalism and secure Scotland’s place in the UK. Faced with a renewed threat from a new nationalist alliance, we need to again come together as one campaign strong enough to stop a second independence referendum and secure Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.

“It is in that spirit that I would therefore welcome an open discussion between our parties, both with regards to the upcoming election and on delivering a Scottish Parliament focused on our national recovery afterwards.”

He asked the party leaders to pledge to three things

  • A vote against indyref2 regardless of May’s election results
  • To rule out a coalition or confidence deal with any party looking to hold a referendum
  • To “agree to form a pro-UK, anti-referendum coalition if the opportunity arrives”

It comes days after the Scottish Tory campaign launch, in which Ross called for a return to the Better Together spirit of 2014.

Ross has previously reached out to Scottish Labour on the matter of a coalition or working arrangement. At the time the party was in the midst of a leadership election, but both candidates, Monica Lennon and Sarwar, rejected the plea.

READ MORE: Alba Party Scotland: Alex Salmond makes his return to politics

Labour’s role in the 2014 No campaign, which saw them working shoulder to shoulder with the Tories to stop independence, is widely cited as a key factor in their decline in Scotland.

The election immediately after the 2014 vote saw the party lose 40 of their 41 seats.

Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael however insisted that the Tory leader’s politics were “far too dark and divisive”.

Sarwar in his response said that while Scottish Labour remained committed to opposing a second referendum and Scottish independence, they would not be drawn into arguments of the past or a "petty agenda of game playing"

Sarwar wrote: "As you know, the Scottish Labour Party does not support Scottish independence or a second referendum.

"This election is about taking Scotland forward – we deserve better than your desperate attempts to take us back to old arguments and the politics of the past.  

"In case you hadn't noticed Scotland is in the middle of a pandemic.

"This election is not some kind of game, it is about focussing on a national recovery.

"This election cannot be about an SNP psychodrama.

"It cannot be about Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond settling old scores.

"And it cannot be about your petty agenda of game playing.

"This election must be about the people of Scotland, their families and a national recovery.

"As you have recognised yourself, one of the largest threats to the Union is the leader of your own party.

"Scotland has had enough of divisive politics which you and Nicola Sturgeon share. 

"Both you and the SNP want to waste time and energy on the imagined conflicts that divide us.

"But in Scotland, child poverty has risen – and was rising before the pandemic hit.

"This is among countless issues where the blame lies at the feet of both your party in Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood.

"A heartbreaking example of how the obsession with past disagreements fails people today.

"Rather than entertain your latest desperate plea for attention, I am focusing our energy on what matters – guaranteeing a fairer recovery and a stronger Scotland.

"Scotland deserves a better government and – as your letter demonstrates – it deserves a better opposition."