IT is “game on” in the Borders to oust the three incumbent Scottish Tory MPs, an SNP candidate has said.

Kim Marshall, who is standing against David Mundell in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale at the General Election, told The National she believes Humza Yousaf’s call to make Scotland “Tory-free” is “very doable”.

It comes as a mega-poll predicted a complete wipeout of the Tories in Scotland, with the party not returning a single MP. 

Marshall and her fellow candidates Tracey Little, contesting outgoing Alister Jack’s Dumfries and Galloway seat against the Scottish Secretary’s spad John Cooper, and David Wilson, standing against John Lamont in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, are at the forefront of the First Minister’s pre-election call.

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Jack’s seat has the smallest majority of 1805, Mundell’s 3781, and Lamont’s 5148, with the SNP in second place in all three in 2019.

It’s certainly all to play for and Marshall, based in Sanquhar, insists that the cost of living will be at the forefront for voters, and is the issue dominating doorsteps across all three seats.

Mundell has been the representative for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale in the Scottish Borders continually since 2005.

He was sacked from the role of Scottish Secretary when Boris Johnson took office in 2019, replaced by Jack, and has since been on the backbenches.

The 59-year-old Marshall told The National: “I definitely think it's game on, I don't think that these seats can be taken for granted.”

The National: David Mundell

Asked if she was daunted by being one of the SNP candidates tasked with ousting Scotland’s seven Tories, after Lisa Cameron defected last year, Marshall said: “I think it's very doable actually.

“What I'm hearing about the Tory camp, David Mundell’s campaign, is something close to outright panic at the moment.

“There's a lot of people saying that he's firstly been seen in areas he hasn't been seen in for years, and that he's also already got people out door chapping, and they said that that is virtually unheard of.”

While the date of the General Election is still to be confirmed, Marshall said she has been told there is a general sense of the “Tories being worried”.

She admits that Mundell’s and Lamont’s majorities will be tougher to beat than Jack’s, but that the candidates are not deterred.

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“I think this is the first time for a long time you've actually got three Borders candidates in the Border seats that we're actually pushing really hard, because south of Scotland does get neglected,” Marshall added.

“I mean, when people talk about rural Scotland, they tend to mean the bits above the central belt, but we have the same issues.

“We've got the issues with depopulation, we've got the issues with housing, we've got the issues with transport. We got the issues with just lack of jobs and the fact that the south of Scotland just doesn't seem to get investment unless we're very close to election time.”

She added: “Obviously the Scottish Government can do as much as it possibly can with its devolved powers, but part of the issue, why we have some of the problems we've got in the south of Scotland, is we've got three Tory MPs who don't really seem to be interested.”

The National: Alister Jack

The PhD student at the University of Glasgow also told how the impact of Brexit and soaring food prices in the area are impacting constituents and dominating the doorstep.

With lots of small towns in the Borders and many unable to access larger supermarkets, many are faced with staggering price hikes.

She added: “It’s cost of living, it’s people saying ‘seriously, I can’t afford to buy a packet of butter because it’s doubled in price’.

“People are struggling.”

A former Labour member, Marshall said she quit the party due to the Tory-lite manifesto of 2015 and the party’s inability to fight against Brexit. She would first join the SNP’s London branch before moving to the Borders and being encouraged to stand as a candidate by MSP Emma Harper.

The Scottish Greens are standing candidate Dominic Ashmole in the seat, while Scottish Labour's candidate is Nick Chisholm.