Douglas Ross says he is “angry” and will not defend Boris Johnson if he is found to have attended any Christmas parties at No 10, after an image was leaked showing him hosting a quiz during lockdown restrictions.
The image, published by the Sunday Mirror, shows a television screen with the prime minister sitting in front of a laptop in the No 10 library with two of his aides on December 15 2020.
Downing Street claims the prime minister had “briefly” taken part “virtually” in a Christmas quiz.
It is understood the quiz took place three days before the alleged rule-breaking Christmas party at No 10 which lead to the resignation of the prime minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton, and is now being investigated by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
A source says many staff were huddled around computers and drinking fizz, wine and beer bought from a local Tesco Metro, with four teams of six people in one office.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has expressed his anger at seeing the image, and says he needs to call out such “irresponsible behaviour”.
‘The public is angry, I am angry’
Mr Ross says he is angry at everyone involved and says the rule breaking in No 10 last Christmas will have a huge impact on the public following any coronavirus restrictions in the future.
Speaking on The Sunday Show, he said: “This causes difficulties and it causes me no difficulty at all to call out irresponsible behaviour that has a huge impact on the rest of the public following government guidance.
“We need more information but if there was a party and the prime minister attended it I am not going to defend it, it is the wrong thing to do.”
He added: “The public is angry.
“I am angry, my family didn’t get the Christmas we expected last year and it looks like we might not get the Christmas we expect this year.
“The public rightly expect those at the top of the government to follow the rules they have written.
“I am angry at everyone, the whole thing makes me angry.
“I know the people I represent in Moray and the Highlands and Islands are following the guidance to the letter because they were told to do that in the national interest, so we are right to be angry at them.”
Mr Ross added he still believes Boris Johnson is the right person to lead the UK, but added that does not “dismiss serious concerns and questions that need to be answered”.
Ross unable to list Johnson’s qualities
During his television appearance Mr Ross was also asked to list Boris Johnson’s attributes and if he has the right qualities to be the prime minister.
Mr Ross seemed unable to give a straight answer, and replied: “He is the prime minister of the UK.
“We are facing difficult times, we are going through a difficult time.
“I say that along with saying he needs to answer serious questions.
“He is the leader of the main party in the UK parliament and the prime minister who is elected to lead the country, but that doesn’t mean he or his officials are allowed to do whatever they want with no scrutiny and that will come from all sides including from myself here in Scotland.
“You’re asking me about what he is doing as prime minister and I am telling you he is leading the country.
“[He has] good enough qualities to have an 80-seat majority, but that doesn’t allow you to do whatever you want.”
He added: “I have serious concerns and I am angry over the Downing Street issues.”
Mr Ross however would also not comment on whether or not he thinks the prime minister should resign over the matter, something Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says is “astonishing”.
SNP leader calls for the PM’s resignation
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has once again called for the prime minister to resign over the allegations, and is vowing to use “all levers available” to ensure he is held accountable.
Mr Blackford said: “The latest damning evidence looks like a clear breach of the rules by the very person who set them.
“The prime minister’s constant misleading of parliament – but more importantly, the public – cannot stand.
“It’s time for him to finally correct the record and resign.
“People in Scotland have looked on in horror as leak after leak confirms this Tory government wasn’t just breaking the rules – they were flagrantly flouting them at Westminster, while the public made important sacrifices for the good of us all.
“On the final week in the Commons before Christmas, the SNP will use all levers available to us to ensure that the prime minister is held accountable for his actions.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer did not go as far as calling for the prime minister’s resignation, but on The Andrew Marr Show he called him “the worst possible leader at the worst possible time” and says it looks as though Mr Johnson was breaking the rules.