Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will pledge a “skills revolution” to rebuild Scotland after lockdown.

The Tory MP wants a £500 “Retrain to Rebuild” grant to be available for people to learn new skills.

He says the scheme could help those who are currently unemployed, anyone facing redundancy, and workers earning less than £30,000.

Mr Ross will announce the proposals in his speech to the Scottish Conservative party conference later.

He believes the scheme could be open from 2023 onwards and could help up to 100,000 Scots in its first two years.

Mr Ross will say: “The UK furlough scheme has protected around a million Scottish jobs, but to rebuild Scotland, we need to start focusing on the jobs of the future.

“Faced by a tsunami of unemployment we need an emergency response that matches the scale of the problem.

“Our Retrain to Rebuild accounts would give people in work the support to learn new skills and progress.

“It would give people struggling for work the chance to rapidly retrain and get a new job or kickstart a new career.”

The Scottish Conservative leader will seek to contrast his plans with the SNP using the Holyrood election to push for a second Scottish independence referendum.

He will add: “While their top priority will always be indyref2, my party will have a relentless focus on rebuilding Scotland now.

“By stopping an SNP majority, we can get the Scottish Parliament 100% focused on job-protection proposals like Retrain to Rebuild.”

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image captionBoris Johnson claimed the SNP had no “sense of priority” over the pandemic

His speech comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the conference, which is being held online amid lockdown restrictions.

In his own speech, Mr Johnson insisted the Conservatives were the “only party that can cut the SNP down to size”.

The PM said Scotland’s focus should be on efforts to rebuild the UK after Covid, rather than another referendum on independence.

He said: “The SNP want to divide us, to turn Scotland against itself, at this of all times.

“I just find it incredible then that the SNP would choose this moment to again push their campaign for separation.

“Just when everything is beginning to reopen again, when we will soon be reunited with our friends and family, the SNP think that this is the time to turn us all against one another.

The prime minister added: “Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by this, it is their party’s obsession. Yet surely even they have a sense of priority, of what is important right now?”

Mr Johnson’s comments came less that two months before the next Scottish Parliament elections, which are due to take place on May 6.

SNP MSP George Adam said: “The Tories’ hypocrisy truly knows no bounds.

“While the SNP has led the way in tackling inequality, helping those out of work or on low incomes with a new social security system based on dignity and respect, our progress is being severely undermined by Tory cuts.”

He added: “The best way to secure a Covid recovery which is fair for everyone is by putting Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “Boris Johnson’s Conservatives want to take us back to the old divisive arguments.

“They want us to argue with each other rather than focus on the priorities of the Scottish people – creating jobs, a comeback plan for education and rebuilding our NHS.”