Theresa May has told the SNP to “stop obsessing over independence and focus on the day job” as she joined the campaign trail in the north-east.
The former prime minister, who was out in Ballater yesterday with Tory candidate Andrew Bowie, also praised Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, saying it was a “very good deal” for Scotland.
Mrs May, who quit Downing Street in June after failing to get her EU agreement through parliament on three attempts, also praised Jackson Carlaw’s leadership of the Scottish Tories since Ruth Davidson’s shock decision to stand down.
Mrs May, who has also been campaigning in Kinross, Angus and Stirling this week, told the Press and Journal: “I am delighted to be up in Scotland campaigning for candidates like Andrew who I’ve worked with in parliament, they have been first class MPs and I want them to be able to continue doing the fantastic work that they have been for their constituents.
“At this election we need to send very clear message to the SNP to stop obsessing over independence and focus on the day job.
“People want an end to the referendum debate and start looking forward to the future.”
Asked about Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that Scotland would be placed at a competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland under Mr Johnson’s Brexit plan, Mrs May said: “The deal is a very good deal, it is a slight variation on the deal I negotiated, but of course the arrangement in Northern Ireland is slightly different as it shares a land border with the EU.”
The former home secretary also defended the Conservative press team, who were yesterday accused of misleading the public after they rebranded one of their official party Twitter accounts to make it look like a fact-checking service during the ITV leaders’ debate.
She said: “It was very clearly a CCHQ account – the point really is that Labour’s policies need scrutiny and their inability to deliver needs to be pointed out.”
On the question of who should replace Ms Davidson at the helm of the Scottish Tories permanently, she said it was a matter for the party, but added: “Jackson has done a very good job.”
Asked about her own future and whether she would ever serve in a Johnson Cabinet if offered a role, Mrs May said: “That’s very cheeky, look, there are a lot of talented and good people in parliament.”
Fergus Mutch, SNP candidate for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said: “Theresa May pitching up for a day suggests panic stations in the Bowie camp.
“The Tory candidate backs Brexit – in face of the harm that will do to the north-east. He’s playing a game of brinkmanship with people’s jobs.”