ONE of the First Minister’s most trusted allies has called for the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens to form a general election pact to make Scotland a Tory-free zone.

Noel Dolan, who was Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior adviser for nine years, and his Lib Dem-supporting wife Judith Fryer have urged the parties to form a one-off ‘Remain’ alliance to defeat all thirteen Conservative MPs.

They told this newspaper: “We should remember that it is the thirteen Scottish Tories who – along with the 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs – are giving Boris Johnson his bare Commons majority. It is essential that Remain parties take these seats.”

An SNP spokesperson did not reject the idea: "The SNP has consistently worked with other parties to ensure that the livelihoods of citizens across the UK are not destroyed by a disastrous No-Deal Brexit. As was made clear at the the European elections, the best way to beat the Tories in Scotland is to vote SNP.”

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Prime Minister Johnson has put Westminster on a general election footing after dropping hints that a poll is on its way.

Any election would be dominated by Brexit and he is expected to frame it as the Tories standing up to parties that want to revisit the 2016 referendum result.

The recent by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire showed how dominant an issue Brexit has become, with the Lib Dems clinching victory after the pro-Remain Greens and Plaid Cymru opted against fielding a candidate.

The cross-party pact has led to similar calls in Scotland, which overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU.

The SNP, Lib Dems, Greens and Scottish Labour all support another vote on leaving the EU, with the Tories and the Brexit Party pushing for withdrawal.

Dolan first started to work for Sturgeon in 2004 when she was depute SNP leader and was by her side in Government as her senior special adviser until his retirement in 2016.

From 1993 to 1997, Fryer worked for the Liberal Democrats in Westminster and was head of Press and Broadcasting. She stood for the party in two Holyrood elections.


Picture: Judith Fryer

Their proposal is for the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens to put aside their differences on independence and agree a pact in the thirteen seats won by the Scottish Tories in 2017.

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They said: “Throughout the Brexit process the Conservatives have ignored the wishes of the people of Scotland and shown their complete disdain for our country. They are now pushing through an extreme version of Brexit, supported by the 13 Scottish Tories.

“Over the three years since the 2016 referendum, the Remain parties have not yet managed to work constructively or in a coherent way to stop Brexit.

Dolan and Fryer continued: “This will undoubtedly be a Brexit election and the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens should put aside their other differences and come together to defeat the Conservatives in the 13 seats that they currently hold in Scotland.

“This would be a one-off arrangement and would only apply to the 13 Tory-held seats, not to the 46 non-Tory seats in Scotland where normal political activity would apply."

They argue that the Lib Dems and Greens should make way for the SNP as the “agreed Remain party” by not standing in ten of the thirteen seats: Aberdeen South; Angus; Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock; Banff and Buchan; Dumfries and Galloway; East Renfrewshire; Moray; Ochil and South Perthshire; Stirling; and Dumfrieesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

Dolan and Fryer also propose that the SNP stand aside for the Lib Dems in three constituencies - Gordon, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, and Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk - where the Nationalists are currently in second place to the Tories.

They explained: “The SNP is the dominant force in Scottish politics but there should be no place for any assumption that they can win these 13 seats by themselves. Nor should SNP dominance be overstated. In the last two elections, the SNP share of the vote was 37% in the 2017 General Election and 38% in the recent European elections.

“Learn the lesson of Brecon and Radnorshire, come to an agreement with each other and, with a bit of luck, Scotland could return 59 Remain MPs.”

Although the Scottish Greens are part of the couple’s plan, Patrick Harvie’s party did not stand in any of the thirteen seats at the last general election.

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Dolan is a respected figure in the SNP whose views are listened to in the upper echelons of the party. He was an early backer of the SNP supporting a second Brexit referendum at a time when the party was lukewarm on the policy. Sturgeon changed her mind after his intervention.

Fryer is a Lib Dem member and has never voted SNP.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Liberal Democrats said: "The problem with that idea is that the SNP use every vote at every election to advance independence. They won't ever drop it, even when faced with something as serious as Brexit. It is the main thing they care about.

"It would be irresponsible for the economy of Scotland to give the SNP a helping hand. They would pile chaos on chaos."

Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “This is a desperate move from parties still rattled from the last General Election. These parties should be comfortable enough in their own skin to fight on their own terms.