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SNP and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has continued to push for a second independence referendum in Scotland, much to the dismay of the UK Government and opposition parties in the country, including the Tories. This renewed push comes despite Scotland voting by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent in favour of Scotland remaining part of the UK during the independence referendum more than six years ago in September 2014. But, a poll by Survation of 1,018 people from September 2-7 found 53 percent of respondents saying they would vote yes in a referendum to leave the Union, compared to 47 percent saying no.
This week a new scandal has engulfed the party over MP Margaret Ferrier’s rule-breaking visit to the House of Commons and train journeys between Glasgow and London while suffering coronavirus symptoms.
On Friday, the First Minister said Ms Ferrier’s actions were “dangerous & indefensible”, and in a meeting, urged her to resign from her post as an MP.
Scottish Conservative leader Mr Ross, who is seeking to win a Holyrood seat in May, will use a fringe event at the party’s online conference on Saturday to warn “defeatism and disinterest” towards the Union is rife, and must end quickly.
He will say the “scandal-ridden SNP can be stopped” and warn some Conservative members in England must stop playing to the SNP’s strengths, adding by “devolving and forgetting”, conservatives and unionists make the SNP’s divisive arguments for them.
The Scottish Conservative leader will tell the fringe event: “You cannot be a Conservative and not be a Unionist, the two values are inseparable. Too many representatives of the Conservative party in England have forgotten this.
“Defeatism and disinterest towards the future of the Union is rife. I am told that independence is inevitable by people that have barely been to Scotland.
“As if we Scottish Conservatives are wasting our time in trying to hold our country together because the SNP have already won.
“These attitudes extend to some of those governing our country. Despite bold promises, the Union too often becomes an afterthought. By devolving and forgetting, you play into the SNP’s hands.
“So enough of the defeatism and disinterest. The last thing that Scotland needs right now is another independence referendum and we know that a majority of Scots agree.
“Look at how the SNP have been put on the backfoot this week.
“This scandal-ridden SNP can be stopped.”
The scathing attack from Mr Ross comes with First Minister Ms Sturgeon under huge pressure from opposition politicians who have demanded answers over what the SNP knew about Ms Ferrier’s symptoms and infection and the party’s response.
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The MP admitted she was tested for coronavirus on Saturday after displaying symptoms but still travelled by train to London on Monday when she should have been following strict self-isolation rules.
Ms Ferrier then gave a short speech in the House of Commons on Monday evening as part of a debate on coronavirus crisis.
The SNP politician said she received her positive test result that same evening – although it is not known if this was before or after speaking in Parliament – before returning by train to Glasgow on Tuesday morning.
Ms Sturgeon said the SNP had acted quickly and “appropriately” when party members learned the details, insisting she only found out about Ms Ferrier’s actions after First Minister’s Questions on Thursday afternoon.
She believed the SNP at Westminster was told about Ms Ferrier positive coronavirus test result on Wednesday but was not aware she already had symptoms and had taken a test before attending Parliament.
The First Minister said Ms Ferrier referred herself to police and informed those close to her about her positive test result before releasing a statement on Thursday afternoon.
That same day, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford flew to Inverness in Scotland and spoke to Ms Ferrier, later announcing the party whip had been withdrawn.
Ms Sturgeon insisted on Friday: “It was not until yesterday my colleagues in the House of Commons realised the circumstances – that she’d actually taken the test before travelling to London and then travelling back having been told that she was positive.
“I think the SNP has acted quickly, appropriately and, actually, we have not tried to protect a colleague here.
“We’ve tried to do the right thing, given the circumstances we’re dealing with.”
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