THE Scottish Conservative leadership has drawn a line under the Ruth Davidson era and scrapped its opposition to a no-deal Brexit, making clear it is “time for us to go” with or without an EU withdrawal agreement.

And Jackson Carlaw, the interim party leader, who indicated he is set to bid for the top job on a permanent basis, denied Boris Johnson was an English Nationalist but, rather, a “passionate, whole-hearted” Unionist.

“I stand behind him four-square as do all my parliamentary colleagues,” declared Mr Carlaw at the Scottish fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.


Ms Davidson was a famous Remainer, who as she left her role as head of the Scottish Tories made clear they would “not support” a no-deal Brexit.

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But addressing the party faithful, Mr Carlaw explained, while his preference was for a deal, “far more damaging now is the endless drift” three years on from the 2016 referendum.

He declared to applause: “After three years after an extension with everybody saying enough is enough; we need to move forward. I support the PM in everything he is doing and if we can’t get a deal by October 31 – and I hope we can – it’s time for us to go.”

Mr Carlaw praised Mr Davidson, saying her legacy was an “invigorated, diverse, committed and enthusiastic Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party ready and waiting to take the fight and to bury the most dangerous political alliance of modern times; Nicola Sturgeon and her new partner of convenience, Jeremy Corbyn”.

He rejected the suggestion from some Scottish Conservatives that the Prime Minister was not a Unionist but, rather, an English Nationalist.

He pointed out how Mr Johnson had added the title of “Minister for the Union” to his role as PM, underlining his “fundamental commitment” to the United Kingdom.

“Do I think Boris Johnson is an English Nationalist? No. He is someone who believes passionately, wholeheartedly and with every conviction in his body in the United Kingdom,” insisted the Scottish party leader to applause.

In his address, Mr Carlaw suggested Nicola Sturgeon was feart about wanting a general election.

“At the moment, we have her shouting: ‘Yeah, I want a general election,’ and then she won’t vote for one…Nicola Sturgeon is all Saltire and no Braveheart. It’s time she found some gumption as should the rest of the Opposition and allow us to have that General Election to resolve it,” he declared.

The Scottish party leader urged people not to get “sucked into the SNP’s tribal myth-making”.

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He told delegates: “What we on the pro-Union side need is a bit of backbone. People prepared to stand up to the SNP and give over appeasing Scottish Nationalism and instead puncture the Nationalist bubble.”

He argued it was not Scottish independence that was inevitable but the Union, which had benefited Scotland for three unbroken centuries. “The Union will outlast us all,” insisted Mr Carlaw.

“It is time to stop being shy about Nicola Sturgeon, whether here in Manchester or media based in London, to stop casting Nicola Sturgeon as some benevolent Governor-General presiding over a mythical and sparkling record of success; nothing could be less true.

“Her five years as First Minister are years of unmitigated domestic failure; failing educational standards, increasing drift in our NHS, this year alone a 10 per cent increase in violent crime, a stumbling economy, the highest taxes anywhere in the UK, public procurement delay, cost overrun and failure.”

The main policy announcement at conference was a multi-billion pound hospital-building programme in England, which will form a major battleground with Labour about who are the custodians of the NHS in the forthcoming election.

The £13 billion announcement to build 40 new hospitals south of the border will mean in the first instance a £270 million consequent windfall for the Scottish Government but over the 10-year programme of investment this is set to top £1 billion.

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, said: "This additional funding builds on a £1.2bn boost for the Scottish budget provided at the last spending round.

"Nicola Sturgeon must ensure every penny announced today is invested in improving our health service. We know there are serious problems with flagship hospitals in Edinburgh and Glasgow. This money must be used to benefit patients,” he declared.

Earlier, Mr Johnson insisted the best thing for people’s “psychological health” was to get Brexit done and that the country had “not got a prayer” to unite itself unless Britain left the EU once and for all.

And he hinted the EU might be prepared to block a further delay to avoid keeping a “truculent” UK in the bloc. The Tory leader also did not rule out getting an obliging EU member to block a further extension to January 31.

Mr Johnson admitted negotiations with the EU were “delicate” but made clear there was a “good chance of getting an excellent deal”.

And he also sought to play down the row over the use of inflammatory language at Westminster last week, saying he had been a “model of restraint”.

He did, however, apologise for a “misunderstanding” over his use of the word “humbug,” saying it was not used in response to female MPs expressing concerns about getting death threats but, rather, an attempt by some politicians to limit parliamentary language. He insisted it was “perfectly legitimate” to use military metaphors like surrender in political discourse.

The PM declined to say if he had apologised to the Queen over the prorogation row, noting how such conversations were private. But most Westminster-watchers believe he did.

Elsewhere at conference, Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, told a fringe event that her party would "look at" a time-limited backstop as she insisted there remained a chance of finding a deal before October 31.

The proposal would put a deadline on the backstop arrangement required by the EU to avoid a hard border in Ireland. However, the proposal has previously been rejected by the Irish government.