THE stand-in leader of the Scottish Conservatives has told supporters he will “stand firmly” against a second independence referendum in the face of a renewed SNP push.

Jackson Carlaw made the comments as he insisted his party had secured a “remarkable result” in the general election – despite losing seven MPs north of the Border.

Mr Carlaw said he has already spoken to Boris Johnson to congratulate him on his victory and insisted the Prime Minister would put “strengthening the Union” at the heart of his agenda. 

It came as Nicola Sturgeon told Mr Johnson he is “the leader of a defeated party in Scotland” and so has no right to stand in the way of a second independence referendum.

READ MORE: Sturgeon: defeated Tories can't stand in way of Indyref2

The First Minister – whose party won 80 per cent of Scotland’s seats – announced she would next week publish “the detailed democratic case” for giving Holyrood the power to hold another referendum in 2020.

Speaking in Glasgow, Mr Carlaw said: “At the beginning of this campaign, there were confident predictions that we would have electoral wipeout in Scotland at this election."

He said: “By the end the predictions had changed, and we were told we might hold on to all of them.

“So there is of course no way of getting round the fact that from 13 to six MPs in Scotland is a disappointment to us. 

“But the numbers show that having made our breakthrough in 2016 and 2017, we have no cemented our position as Scotland’s main opposition party to the SNP. 

“Winning nearly 700,000 votes across the country is a fantastic achievement. 

“Unlike Labour, last night we largely maintained our share of the vote, with our second best showing since 1992.

“And most importantly of all, we will now be part of a majority Conservative government at Westminster. This is good news for Scotland.”

The interim Scottish Tory leader said he spoke to Mr Johnson on Friday afternoon “to discuss his plans, and I congratulated him on the result across the whole of the UK, which was quite remarkable”. 

He added: “And I’m confident that next week, he will present a unifying agenda as he begins work that will put strengthening of the Union at its heart, making sure that our Union of four nations – Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland – works for all its people, and give us all the security and prosperity we want.

“Now in the last hour I have already heard Nicola Sturgeon claim that last night’s result is a mandate for a second referendum on independence. 

“Of course, up until 10pm last night that was not the story told by the SNP – it was, they said, about stopping Brexit and blocking Boris. 

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Boris Johnson does not have a mandate” to take Scotland out of the EU

“Nonetheless the SNP has reverted to form and decided to take the vote it won yesterday as a free pass for a referendum next year.

“I’m clear her plan would take us back to more division and chaos. 

“Imagine, just as the rest of the UK is now set to move on and put constitutional division and referendums behind it, Scotland would remain stuck – the one part of this country still trapped in the divisive arguments of the past, unable to focus on the challenges of the future.

“So today I want to reassure the people, the 700,000 people who gave us their support yesterday, that we still stand firmly as before, and say to them directly: you voted Scottish Conservative and Unionist yesterday for us to stop that referendum. We will not let you down. 

“The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation event. It should be respected as such. 

“The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will be the party to do so.”

Mr Carlaw said: “I hope to sit down with the Prime Minister and have a full discussion in early course about how as Minister of the Union – the position he adopted, which of course because of the general election he’s not had much time to amplify and flesh out – and as a UK government we will do more to promote the Union across the whole of the UK but particularly here in Scotland.”

Asked by The Herald whether he took responsibility for the Tory vote share falling in Scotland, while it rose across the UK, he said: “I don’t accept that.

“I don’t actually think Scotland was so terribly different from the rest of the UK yesterday. 

“The story across the whole of the UK was the collapse of the Labour Party.

“In the north-east of England, that collapse broke in favour of the Brexit Party. 

“Here in Scotland it broke in favour of the SNP. In seats across Scotland our vote went up; in some seats it went down. 

“But it was our second best result since 1992, when we obtained, I think, 25.6 per cent of the vote – this time 25.1. 

“So I still think this is a remarkable result. If this was repeated at the election in 2021 there would be considerably more Conservative MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.”

He said the collapse in Labour’s vote was far greater than people anticipated. 

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He added: “I thought our people in all the seats put up a magnificent fight and I’m disappointed, as I say, that we lost colleagues. 

“But I’m not downhearted about the performance of the Scottish Conservatives in terms of the vote that we achieved yesterday in the circumstances of the campaign.”

Asked if he will be a candidate in a future election to become the permanent leader of the Scottish Tories, Mr Carlaw said: “I’ve enjoyed this campaign. 

“I believe that I have helped bring clarity and focus to it. I believe that there’s more that I can offer the Scottish Conservatives going forward. 

“But that’s not the immediate discussion that we need to have.”