Ruth Davidson used her speech at the Conservative Party conference to launch a strong attack on the SNP, but also looked to challenge members of her own party on their stance on immigration.
The Scottish Tory leader condemned the SNP’s drive for a second independence referendum claiming that the Nicola Sturgeon is “not speaking for the majority” and that the majority of Scots have had enough and are telling her “for pity’s sake, First Minister, let this go”.
Recent opinion polls appear to confirm that Brexit has made very little difference in the number of Scots who favour independence. Ms Davidson has taken confidence from this, claiming that Scottish Tories are now “out and proud” and the party is gaining support throughout the country. She went on to predict that this growing support will lead to next year’s Scottish council elections being the best result for the Scottish Conservatives since devolution.
More surprisingly, Ruth Davidson was critical of the rhetoric by some of the members of the party surrounding immigration, stating:
“So as we have difficult, but necessary, debates about how we manage borders in future, let us not forget that behind discussions of numbers and rules and criteria, there lies people and homes and families.”
She also looked to reassure the 3.3 million EU nationals living in the UK, adding “for those who have already chosen to build a life, open a business, make a contribution, I say this is your home and you are welcome here”.
Up until this point the Conservatives have done a respectable job of presenting a united party, but as the triggering of Article 50 approaches internal divisions may become increasingly apparent.