The Scottish Secretary has put Tory activists on alert as he predicted Nicola Sturgeon would pull the trigger on an independence referendum within months.
In a rallying call ahead of this weekend’s Scottish Conservative conference, David Mundell said he is dismayed the First Minister is back to her “old tricks” in agitating for another vote after losing 480,000 votes in June.
Writing in the conference agenda, Mr Mundell said: “I fear we will face a fresh call for a vote on leaving the UK in the months ahead, but I remain as determined as ever to fight back and stand up for the majority of Scots who dread another, damaging bout of constitutional skirmishing.”
The UK cabinet minister added: “Now is the time to pull together, to focus on the most important facing the UK – securing the best possible deal as we leave the EU.
“Not forcing another unwanted independence referendum on the people of Scotland.”
An SNP spokesman said Mr Mundell is trying to distract his party.
“This is a desperate attempt at diversion from a Scottish Tory party that knows how damaging the Brexit shambles is for them,” the spokesman said.
“They have slumped in the polls and will fall further as Ruth Davidson’s authority – and control of her Scottish MPs – steadily seeps away.”
Earlier, George Kerevan, one of the SNP MPs who lost their seat in last year’s general election, criticised Ms Sturgeon for leaving No voters in the dark about what currency an independent Scotland would use.
Writing in The National, the economist said the delay in establishing a position on the monetary issue is putting the movement on the “back foot”, as it was ahead of the 2014 referendum.
Mr Kerevan said: “Yet here we are in 2018 and the SNP leadership is still telling us nothing in this regard.
“The First Minister, for whom I have the highest regard, implied that the fabled Growth Commission report on currency options would be published early in 2018.
“It’s nearly March and still no sign of the report.”
The Growth Commission, which is chaired by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, is putting a fresh case together for independence.
Ms Sturgeon has said she will make a decision on whether to call for a second independence referendum by the end of the year.