Boris Johnson used ‘rude words’ when I told him to quit, says Douglas Ross

·2-min read
Boris Johnson with Douglas Ross on trip to Morayshire distillery (PA Images)
Boris Johnson with Douglas Ross on trip to Morayshire distillery (PA Images)

Boris Johnson swore at Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross when he called for the prime minister’s resignation, the senior Tory figure has revealed.

Mr Ross was among the first Tories to tell Johnson to go earlier this year over the Partygate scandal, before going back on his call briefly when Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Because I was one of the first senior figures to tell the prime minister to resign, he was not particularly pleased with that,” Mr Ross said, speaking at an event at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with broadcaster Iain Dale.

“He was angry, one of his MPs was saying they no longer had confidence in him, I think it would be a difficult conversation to have for any party leader to have your MPs telling you that, particularly when you’re the prime minister – that ratchets it up a notch.”

When asked if Mr Johnson had used “Latin words” – a euphemism for swearing – Mr Ross said: “They were rude, they weren’t necessarily Latin.”

Ross also spoke about the difficult aftermath of being Scottish Tory leader calling for the PM to go. Within hours of his stance becoming public, Jacob Rees-Mogg repeatedly described him as a “lightweight” in the party.

Mr Ross said: “They wanted to dampen down any potential dissent. When Jacob Rees-Mogg made those comments, I said, ‘Well, you’re entitled to that view’ – I disagree with it, I’ve never said anything about Jacob Rees-Mogg.”

He added: “I don’t think we’ve actually ever spoken before in the five years that I’ve been in the House of Commons. For someone who prides himself on being very courteous to colleagues, it was a surprise.”

After U-turning on his resignation call after the invasion of Ukraine – citing the need for stability at the top – Ross again opposed Johnson’s leadership in June. But he insisted he “only changed position once”.

Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader who become a leading critic of the PM during Partygate, recalled that Johnson once complained to her about his £145,000 job as foreign secretary.

“He once described being foreign secretary to me as like being enclosed in a steel condom. I found it odd because I hadn’t asked him,” Baroness Davidson told an Edinburgh Fringe event.

“I think he meant the amount of attention he had from civil servants to make sure he didn’t say anything – imprisoned in a steel condom is what he said,” the Tory peer said.