02/09/2011 01:59 BST | Updated 01/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative Leadership Hopeful, Beings Campaign With Early Referendum Bid

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw has launched his bid to become the party's leader with a demand for an early referendum on independence.

The West of Scotland MSP has opened his campaign to replace Annabel Goldie with an event in Glasgow, where he outlined his plans to take the party forward.

Mr Carlaw said he wants an independence referendum before any further discussion on transferring more responsibilities to the Scottish Parliament beyond the Scotland Act.

He also set out demands for a new Act of Constitutional Settlement after any referendum.

Mr Carlaw said that more than 30 years of involvement in all areas of the party gave him the experience to take on the leadership.

He said: "I want to secure a strong Scotland in a great Britain and so the future of the Union will be the heart and soul of my campaign and at the very centre of my appeal to party members.

"Rather than negotiate over Alex Salmond's ever-burgeoning list of demands, I want to ask the people of Scotland the really big question: Do you want to renew Scotland's partnership with the United Kingdom or separate from it?

"Thereafter, I want to end the prospect of Scotland enduring a series of 'neverendum' referendums by enacting a new Act of Constitutional Settlement which would secure the future of the Union while setting out a process within which future discussions on legislative responsibility can be conducted and resolved."

Deputy leader Murdo Fraser is also in the leadership running and will formally launch his campaign on Monday. He is expected to call on the SNP Government to hold a single-question referendum on independence but will support financial devolution to the Scottish Parliament at his launch next week.

Ruth Davidson, a newly elected list MSP for Glasgow, is also expected to join the leadership contest.