Scots who do not want Nicola Sturgeon to "wreck" the country's Covid recovery with a second independence referendum should lend the Tories their votes "in the national interest", Douglas Ross said on Monday. Launching the Tory Holyrood election manifesto, Mr Ross argued that people should vote tactically for the Conservatives on the regional list for the country's sake even if they have never backed the party before. He warned the country's efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic would be "crippled" if the SNP continued to focus on independence and the threat of another separation vote needed to be removed for Scotland to recover. Mr Ross said both Labour and the Liberal Democrats "believe that they can just wish the threat of a second referendum away", with Sir Keir Starmer unwilling to even say whether the would oppose a vote "the day after the election". The Scottish Tory leader said the prize was stopping Ms Sturgeon from winning a majority and a Scottish Parliament whose "only priority" was rebuilding the country after the Covid pandemic. Highlighting the First Minister's claim last week it would be a "dereliction of duty" for her not to have another referendum, he said this really applied to her overseeing Scotland's education system tumbling down international rankings and record drug deaths. The Tory manifesto, which unlike the SNP's was costed, included plans to increase economic growth including retraining grants for workers, rates relief for shops and scrapping public car parking charges to help revive town and city centres. The Conservatives also want to recruit 3,000 extra teachers, spend £2 billion more on the NHS and put more police officers on Scotland's streets. If Scotland's economic recovery allows it, they pledged to cut income tax for 1.1 million workers who pay more than if they lived in England. Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said tax cuts for the better-off "shows who the Tories are for" but Mr Ross said teachers and police officers would benefit from the move, which would affect people earning more than £27,393. The Scottish Tory leader also confirmed that Boris Johnson was not expected to appear on the campaign trail before polling day, but blamed Covid restrictions rather than the Prime Minister's unpopularity in Scotland. Ms Sturgeon last week confirmed she wants to stage another separation vote by the end of 2023, after world leaders have stopped announcing mass Covid deaths but well before Scotland has finished recovering from the deepest recession in centuries. If Mr Johnson refused to drop his opposition, the SNP manifesto promised to push through its own wildcat Independence Referendum Bill then "vigorously defend" it in court if the UK Government took legal action to block it. A poll published on Monday found 56 per cent of Scots said they thought the UK Government should give the green light to another independence vote if the SNP win an outright majority. But Mr Ross insisted that the vast majority of people do not want another referendum any time soon and if the SNP win a majority "they will take that mandate as free rein to drive forward their obsession at the earliest opportunity". Launching his manifesto, titled Rebuild Scotland, he said: “We need to choose to rebuild Scotland now. And the only way to do that in this election is to vote Scottish Conservative with your party list vote on May 6. “Even if you have never thought of yourself as a Conservative or have never voted for us before. Only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength across the country to stop the SNP from winning a majority and wrecking our recovery with a second referendum." He added: “So, let’s now come together in the national interest. Let’s keep our country united and focused on the task at hand. Let’s get on the road to recovery and not allow the SNP to divert us with another independence referendum.” Scotland's income tax higher rate of 41 per cent and top rate of 46 per cent are one point higher than in England, while the higher rate salary threshold is £43,663 in Scotland compared to £50,271 south of the Border. Although he emphasised it would not be an immediate priority, Mr Ross said: "We make it clear that it is our aspiration to get parity back in the tax system." Keith Brown, the SNP's deputy leader, said: "The Tory strategy for trying to block a referendum on independence is utterly undemocratic. "It’s clear that Douglas Ross and his party have no route through the pandemic, no vision for recovery, no ambition, no intention of setting out a detailed plan on how they would run Scotland and offer no leadership."