Douglas Ross mocked on BBC general election debate as Tory leader faces expenses row

Douglas Ross was hammered on a TV debate as the Scottish Conservatives leader faces a probe into his expenses.

The embattled Tory MSP was asked "why should anyone vote for a party you don't even want to lead" after he previously announced his intention to step down after the general election next month.

Ross was appearing on a live BBC Scotland debate in Glasgow tonight alongside the other Holyrood leaders ahead of the poll on July 4.

He had to stand back while John Swinney, Anas Sarwar, Lorna Slater and Alex Cole-Hamilton laid the blame for 14 years of austerity at the door of the Conservatives in Westminster.

And debate host Stephen Jardine got the biggest laugh of the night when he asked Ross why Scots should support a party he no longer wants to remain in charge of.

"You're making history at the moment as the first party leader to step down in the middle of an election campaign," he said. "Why should anyone vote for a party you don't even want to lead?"

It comes as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) announced it was "reviewing" reports Douglas Ross may have used Westminster expenses to travel in his role as an SFA linesman.

Ross announced on Monday he intends to step down as Scottish Tory leader following the election.

His resignation followed criticism over the deselection of David Duguid as a general election candidate as well as reports he used MP expenses to travel in his role as a football linesman.

Speaking before tonight's debate, Ross said: "I am very confident that the claims I have made have been in line with my duties as a Member of Parliament and travelling to and from Westminster.

"But what I also said is I am very comfortable for that to be investigated."

The BBC debate later saw First Minister John Swinney and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar clash over whether more spending cuts to public services were coming down the line.

Extra revenue raised by a future Labour government would only be enough to “keep the lights on”, the SNP leader warned.

Swinney said: “You’re going to raise these items of revenue, but you’re allocating that to other spending just to keep the lights on.

“There’s going to have to be £18 billion worth of cuts and that’s going to put a lot of people’s lights off.”

But Sarwar said he would take "no lectures on austerity" from Swinney.

“Let me say unequivocally there will be no austerity under a Labour government," the MSP said.

“We saw the consequences of Tory austerity on this country, and how it devastated local budgets. And we also saw the consequences of austerity imposed by John Swinney when he was finance secretary.”

Sarwar said such issues were important because “Tory economic carnage” meant the average mortgage in Scotland had gone up by over £2,000 in the last year, with household bills and energy bills also rising.

Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens co-leader, blasted the Tories for "cutting taxes for the wealthiest and trying to balance the books by cutting public services."

She added: "The money we need in Scotland, that capital money we need to build better roads, railroads, and hospitals. It is disingenuous to build those roads to pretend that times are hard.

"Times are not hard for the super wealthy. They have made out like bandits since COVID. Their wealth has doubled and tripled.

"What we need to do is make sure that those super wealthy pay their fair share.

"We propose a tax on the super wealthy who have assets of more than £3.4 million, which would raise billions and billions of pounds for the Treasury which we could invest in those building schools and hospitals and of course, in that green transition."

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