DOUGLAS Ross appeared to deny that his Scottish Conservatives put stopping a second independence referendum at the forefront of their election campaign.

The Scottish Tory leader claimed instead that his Tories had been focused on issues that will “secure Scotland’s recovery” from the pandemic.

Speaking on the BBC earlier this afternoon, Ross took umbrage at being asked whether an SNP majority “makes any difference” to what happens next in terms of a mandate for a second independence vote.

The Scottish Tory leader answered: “No disrespect to you or your pundits because you are understandably following the story, but I just hoped we would be speaking more about what the Scottish Parliament might actually deliver over the next five years...”

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Ross was interrupted by the BBC’s host to say that the Tories had put blocking indyref2 "front and centre" of their campaign.

The Moray MP replied: “Well, no. I’ve been saying throughout this campaign we need to focus on the issues that will secure Scotland’s recovery and that really is important for people’s jobs, for young people’s education, for investing in the NHS after everything they’ve done through this pandemic.

“There’s so many issues we really should be putting to the top of the agenda in the next Scottish parliament. It seems all we’re speaking about yet again is another independence referendum.

Douglas Ross was speaking to the BBC from Inverness

“That’s been led by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP before all the votes have been counted and all the seats have been declared.”

Ross had it pointed out that it was his party which had put stopping indyref2 on just about every single piece of their campaign literature, before being asked how exactly he planned to prevent a second independence vote.

The Scottish Tory leader said that it was votes for his party which stopped the SNP holding a second vote after 2016, but suggested that votes for Nicola Sturgeon’s party should not be taken as a mandate for indyref2.

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Asked about Aberdeenshire West, a key target constituency for the SNP won by Alexander Burnett for the Tories in 2016, Ross said the race was “extremely tight”.

He said it was clear that “the SNP are doing well” and pointed to Burnett’s small majority of 900 votes but praised his work as an MSP.

Ross refused to be drawn on rumours that the Tories anticipate an SNP majority, instead acknowledging that the result sits on a “knife-edge”.

He added: “The SNP were just two seats short of a majority coming into the election and it will come down to the last few seats and the last few votes.”

The news comes after Ruth Davidson, whose former Edinburgh Central seat was taken by the SNP yesterday, claimed that she had not been involved with the Scottish Tory campaign team, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Davidson, who will be joining the House of Lords rather than aiming to be elected to Holyrood, told the BBC she “wasn’t part of the campaign team, I wasn’t part of the planners”.