BORIS Johnson has used his speech at the Scottish Tory conference to say now is not the time for an independence referendum.

Responding to the Scottish Government's plans to hold indyref2 in 2023 - both the SNP and Green manifestoes promised a vote in this parliamentary term - Johnson echoed Theresa May's post-Brexit "now is not the time" line to reject a new referendum.

During his in-person speech to the Aberdeen P&J Live venue, which came days after Douglas Ross took back his call for the Prime Minister to resign over partygate, Johnson praised Ross's leadership of the Scottish Tories.

He told members: “Douglas Ross has been able to defy the sceptics, stop Nicola Sturgeon from getting an overall majority as people said that she would."

“Get more votes than any previous Scottish Conservative leader, including Ruth Davidson, brilliant though she is.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the Scottish Conservative Conference at P&J Live

This is despite the fact that Scotland elected a pro-independence majority of Greens and the SNP just last year. Scotland's additional member voting system is not designed, like first-past-the-post, to produce a single-party majority.

The Prime Minister continued: “[Ross is] the only political leader in Scotland saying loud and clear what should be blindingly obvious to everyone.

“That this is not the moment to be having another referendum.”

According to a Savanta ComRes poll published on Friday, around half of Scots want to see indyref2 held in the next two-five years – but the situation in Ukraine has prompted the majority of voters to say talks on referendum timing should be paused.

The SNP rejected this idea, with MSP Rona Mackay saying stopping the plans because of Russia’s invasion would be like handing Putin “an effective veto over democracy in Scotland”.

During the speech, Johnson also said Labour and the SNP are the “terrible twins” – claiming the two parties would try to form a coalition with each other after a General Election.

He told the Scottish Conservative conference: “This is not the time for yet more delectable disputations about the constitution when our European continent is being ravaged by the most vicious war in Europe since 1945 and when public services and the economy need to recover from the pandemic.”

READ MORE: Stephen Kerr's teeth fall out live on stage at Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen

The Prime Minister continued: “How incredible that even now it should be the policy of the SNP to respond to Putin’s sabre-rattling by getting rid of this country’s nuclear deterrent.”

He added: “And be in no doubt that at any UK General Election it would be those terrible twins – Labour and the Nats, the Scottish Nationalist Party – each vying to be more left-wing, more high-taxing, more generally hectoring and bossy and nannying, that would try to form a coalition.

“And be in no doubt that Labour would rather work with the nationalists to bring down this government than work with us to stop the SNP from breaking up Britain.”

More to follow