Douglas Ross has urged pro-UK voters to “rediscover that Better Together spirit”, as he kicked off the Holyrood election campaign.
In a speech in Aberdeen, the Scottish Conservative leader urged voters who are against another independence referendum to support his party, regardless of their affiliation, as he pitched the Tories as the only ones able to stop an SNP majority.
Mr Ross repeatedly refused to say what he thought would be a positive result for his party on May 6, saying he did not want to “limit his ambitions”.
He also said his offer of an alliance with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar still stands and will do so throughout the campaign, in a bid to avert an SNP majority.
Mr Sarwar has ruled out working with the Tories.
Addressing supporters on Thursday, Mr Ross said: “In this election, it’s a straight choice between two futures.
“The dividing lines are clear – divide Scotland now or rebuild Scotland over the next five years, referendum or recovery, separation or schools, a majority or accountability, going back to the division of 2014 or going forward, an SNP majority and indyref2 or the Scottish Conservatives stopping them.”
Better Together was the pro-union campaign backed by the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour ahead of the 2014 independence referendum.
Mr Ross added: “We have to come together again, rediscover that Better Together spirit that enabled us to defeat the SNP’s campaign for separation.
“Unite behind one political campaign, the largest and strongest opposition party to stop another referendum.
“Even if you would never describe yourself as a Conservative or you’ve never voted for us before, we are again facing a binary choice about the future of our country in this election.
“If you don’t want the SNP to divide our families and break up the UK, then vote for us.”
Speaking to journalists after his speech, Mr Ross said a deal between Labour and the Tories is still on the table despite Mr Sarwar’s rejection of it.
“I’m not ashamed of (Better Together), I’m proud of that, but it does seem from the reaction of the Scottish Labour Party that they are ashamed, that they don’t want to work with pro-UK parties to stop the SNP, to get our focus off a referendum and back on recovery,” Mr Ross said.
“That’s why I’m disappointed that Anas Sarwar, like his predecessor, has refused to work with the Scottish Conservatives if it means getting the SNP out of power after 14 years of failure.
“But I’ll continue to make that offer, I’ll continue to hold that olive branch to say we can work together to end this 14 years of the SNP distracting Scottish politics with constitutional issues rather than focusing Scottish politics on our recovery and rebuilding Scotland.”
Mr Sarwar later deemed the offer from the Tory leader for them to join together and keep the SNP out of government “playground politics”.
He dismissed it as “not seriousness and an attempt to create relevance that he has failed to do so far in his leadership”.
Mr Sarwar said: “The idea that we can deliver a fairer and more equal society with the Conservatives is just not credible and just not true.”