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No chance: Douglas Ross’s leadership likened to Jo Swinson’s doomed tenure of Lib Dems

Jo Swinson.
Jo Swinson.

Ian Blackford has dismissed the Scottish Tories as an electoral threat, likening Douglas Ross’s leadership to Jo Swinson’s ill-fated turn in charge of the Liberal Democrats.

The SNP Westminster leader, in an interview with us, scoffed at Mr Ross’s repeated assertion that he can break the nationalist hold on Bute House and become Scotland’s next first minister.

The most recent polling on Scottish Parliament election voting intentions shows 57% of people plan to back Nicola Sturgeon’s party in May, while consecutive surveys have shown a majority of support for independence.

Mr Blackford said: “I respect the right of anyone to put their case in front of the electorate.

“But when I hear and see what the Conservatives have been saying, what Douglas Ross has been saying about his bid to become first minister of Scotland, honestly.

“It takes me back to Jo Swinson, a few months ago she was going to be prime minister. I think I’ll leave it at that.”

Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross.

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP was also unfazed by reports that Downing Street was planning to take the fight to the SNP in the months ahead.

“I think the Scottish Parliament has come of age and I think that’s more than demonstrated by the leadership that the Scottish Government has shown over the Covid crisis.

“I think people can and do take an awful lot of comfort from the the leadership that the Scottish Government has given over the course of the last few months, and I think people do contrast the behaviour of our own government and the chaos and confusion that comes from Westminster.”

He added: “I think a lot of people that perhaps historically haven’t been supporters of the SNP or supporters of independence are beginning to pose the question in their own minds, why not?”

Mr Blackford pointed to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit as a big factor for surging independence support, stating: “It will be a cataclysm for the north-east and west of Scotland.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

In a bid to stave off such a disaster, he called on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to back an extension to the Brexit transition period.

“I would say to Keir Starmer, if we cannot achieve a deal that protects the interests of our citizens and threatens a further increase in unemployment, then the only realistic alternative at that point is to lengthen the transition period.

“Parliament needs to wake up and recognise that we need to protect people and we protect people by extending transition.”

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives have a positive vision to move Scotland on from the divisive politics of the past that Ian Blackford promotes.”

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