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Douglas Ross urged to ditch Westminster Tories if Boris Johnson refuses to quit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.

Douglas Ross has been urged to sever ties with the UK Conservative Party if Boris Johnson ignores his calls to resign over a series of lockdown-busting parties at No 10.

Former Tory MSP Adam Tomkins called on Mr Ross and his colleagues at Holyrood to consider “what kind of association – if any” they want to have with a party led by Mr Johnson following the revelations.

The prime minister is reportedly preparing a policy announcement blitz and a cull of his own top team as he looks to survive the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the so-called partygate scandal.

It comes as former children’s minister Tim Loughton became the sixth Conservative MP to call for Mr Johnson to quit, saying his resignation “is the only way to bring this whole unfortunate episode to an end”.

A growing list of embarrassments

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called for the prime minister to go on Wednesday after he admitted attending a boozy Downing Street party in May 2020 when the rest of the country was in lockdown.

No 10 was then forced to apologise to Buckingham Palace on Friday after it emerged two staff parties were held on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

The parties have been added to a growing list of events in government buildings currently being investigated by Ms Gray.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross was branded a ‘lightweight’ politician.

Mr Ross’s Conservative colleagues at Holyrood publicly backed his call for Mr Johnson to quit but the prime minister appears determined to cling on.

That could lead to an extraordinary situation where Mr Ross is forced to head into May’s council elections asking voters to back a party led by a man he believes is unfit to be prime minister.

Speaking on the Sunday Show, former MSP Adam Tomkins said the Scottish Conservatives should consider operating independently of the Westminster party.

Choices to make

Mr Tomkins has long called for the Scottish Tories to be separate from their UK counterparts, and argued the latest revelations further illustrate the need to break away.

“If you are the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and you call in public for the resignation of the leader of the UK Conservative Party, and that resignation does not come, then you’ve got a choice to make,” he said.

“You could prove your critics inside the party right, you could prove you’re a lightweight by doing nothing about it.

Adam Tomkins in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament during his time as an MSP.

“Or you could say that there needs to be consequences of this and the time has now come – to be honest it has long since come.”

Mr Tomkins argued that it follows from the actions and statements of Douglas Ross that if the prime minister refuses to quit, the group at Holyrood “have to think really hard about what kind of relationship, what kind of association – if any – they want to continue to have with a UK Conservative Party that is led by Boris Johnson.”

Completely unsustainable

SNP MP Drew Hendry said it is “clear” Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross “can’t both remain in post with any credibility”.

“The situation is ludicrous and completely unsustainable,” he said.

“It would be absurd for Mr Ross to fight a general election, or an independence referendum, beneath a prime minister he has openly admitted is unfit for office and should resign.”

MP Drew Hendry

Mr Johnson also faced possibly his strongest criticism yet from Sir Keir Starmer, as the Labour leader accused him of breaking the law and then repeatedly lying about it.

Sir Keir claimed the facts “speak for themselves and the country has made up its mind”, adding it is “blindingly obvious what’s happened.”

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden admitted there were “failings” in No 10 but denied it is a resigning matter for Boris Johnson.

Mr Dowden said the Government plans to “address the kind of culture that has allowed” the reported flouting of coronavirus laws to happen – an apparent hit at an impending shake-up at the top of Mr Johnson’s administration.

Contrite and deeply apologetic

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Dowden said: “I can assure you the prime minister is both very contrite and deeply apologetic for what happened.

“But, more importantly, he is determined to make sure that this can’t be allowed to happen and that we address the underlying culture in Downing Street.

“There were failings: we should have done better, much, much better. We need to up our game, and that needs to be addressed, and I know the prime minister is committed to addressing that.”

A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said the party is “fully focused on Scotland’s recovery from Covid and holding the SNP to account”.

He added: “We won 100,000 more votes than ever before in last year’s election and were the only pro-UK party to move forward.

“In this year’s local elections, we will be standing candidates right across Scotland with the aim of removing the SNP from power.”

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