Davidson claims SNP have no mandate to demand second referendum…

As the Scotsman reports that he will not be joining her on the campaign trail, the Scottish Conservative leader has said that David Cameron should tell Nicola Sturgeon to “take a hike” if she demands a second referendum during the next Scottish Parliament.

Ruth Davidson insists that the very cautious wording of the SNP manifesto will not give the First Minister a mandate for a rematch. This comes as polls registered a drop in support for independence in the event of Brexit.

The Scotsman reports that the Prime Minister will not be joining his Scottish lieutenant on the campaign trail before voters go the polls next week.

Murdo Fraser also took the fight to Labour in an increasingly close-fought contest for second place, accusing the party of misleading voters about their council tax plans.

…as Dugdale hits back in the fight to be Opposition

As the Daily Record publishes another poll showing the Scottish Conservatives ahead of Labour, Kezia Dugdale has hit back at her Tory rival and set out to defend her unionist credentials.

The Scottish Labour leader landed herself in hot water by suggesting that she might vote to quit the UK in the event of Brexit – which played straight into the hands of Davidson with her staunchly unionist campaign.

Dugdale has now claimed that she is a “proud” unionist and accused the Conservatives of pouring ‘petrol’ on the constitutional issue for partisan advantage, according to the Daily Telegraph.

She has claimed to the Scotsman that she won’t quit if her party does end up in third place, a position it hasn’t occupied in any Scottish election since overtaking the Liberals in 1922.

Dugdale’s new stance was not helped by Frank Field, who opined in a TV interview that Scottish independence was inevitable because it is “another country” (a subjective judgement) with a “soverign parliament” (an objective falsehood).

Davies pushes the Tory message as polls show his party in trouble

Wales Online reports that Andrew RT Davies has given Welsh voters more details for what his party will do if they win power in next week’s elections to the National Assembly.

Despite praising the accrual of ever-more powers by the body – “a true Welsh Parliament now in my eyes” – he voiced deep concern about a ‘crisis’ in political engagement in Wales, blaming a ‘Cardiff Bubble’ for the fact that turnout in a devolved election has “never come near to 50 per cent”.

Recent polls have shown the Tories slipping back into third place behind Plaid Cymru, the relatively hapless Welsh nationalists, and Davies seems to have redoubled his media efforts to help familiarise more voters with his policies.

This week, seat-by-seat polling found the Conservatives just 0.1 per cent ahead of Plaid in Aberconwy and well behind the Liberal Democrats in Brecon and Radnorshire, whose Westminster equivalent they captured in 2015.

Indeed both the Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats appear to be clocking strong performances in a string of crucial seats.

The site also ran a biography piece on the Welsh Conservative leader, in which he emphasises the influence that his family has had on his politics.

Irish foreign minister clashes with Villiers again

The News Letter reveals that Charlie Flanagan, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Ireland, has clashed again with the Northern Irish Secretary over the impact of Brexit.

Flanagan, who serves in Ireland’s lame-duck, post-election government and is of the centre-right Fine Gael party, claims that the state of the UK-Irish border would not be determined by the London and Dublin alone, but would involve the wider EU.

This is being seen as a rebuke to Theresa Villiers’ claims of last week that Brexit would cause minimal disruption due to the two countries’ deep and long-established bilateral relations.

SNP accused of hiding education record as Sturgeon promises action

The Scottish Government has been accused of suppressing a report on the attainment gap in schools until after the general election, according to The Herald.

Angela Constance MSP, the SNP education secretary, also endured a torrid hustings with teachers over the party’s cuts to colleges.

The First Minister has claimed to be ready to ‘take on the establishment’ to champion education reform – but Labour have accused her of trying to replicate her party’s controversial college reforms covertly.

Farage fends off revolt against Scottish leader

The UKIP leader has dismissed rebels against David Coburn, UKIP’s Scottish MEP and leader north of the border, as “totally irrelevant”, The Sun reports.

Activists, including five local party chairmen, had called on him to quit because he was unsuitable to be the public face of the Brexit campaign in Scotland.

They told the Guardian they had hit a ‘brick wall’ inside the party when they complained of his “unsavoury, bullying, and gaffe-prone” behaviour.

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