Douglas Ross 'staying put' as Scottish Tory leader, says party chief whip

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Douglas Ross MSP Scottish Conservative Leader attends the First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament Holyrood on November 18, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images) - Getty Images Europe
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Douglas Ross MSP Scottish Conservative Leader attends the First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament Holyrood on November 18, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images) - Getty Images Europe

Douglas Ross is "staying put" as Scottish Tory leader even if Boris Johnson manages to cling on to power, the party's chief whip insisted yesterday.

Stephen Kerr dismissed reports that the Prime Minister's allies believe that Mr Ross could come to regret his public demand for Mr Johnson to stand down and could even having to end up quitting himself.

Mr Kerr said Mr Ross's mandate as leader comes from the Scottish Tory membership and he is "there for good", regardless of what the Prime Minister's supporters want.

The defiant intervention by the former Stirling MP came as he reiterated his view that Mr Johnson's resignation over 'party-gate" was now an "inevitability."

Mr Kerr predicted the threshold for a vote of no confidence by Tory MPs will be passed, following the publication of Sue Gray's official inquiry into the parties that were staged in Downing Street during lockdown.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15: Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he addresses the media regarding the United Kingdom's Covid-19 infection rate and vaccination campaign at Downing Street Briefing Room on November 15, 2021 in London, England. The prime minister and his advisers encouraged Britons to receive their Covid-19 vaccine booster when eligible. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images) - Leon Neal /Getty Images Europe
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15: Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he addresses the media regarding the United Kingdom's Covid-19 infection rate and vaccination campaign at Downing Street Briefing Room on November 15, 2021 in London, England. The prime minister and his advisers encouraged Britons to receive their Covid-19 vaccine booster when eligible. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images) - Leon Neal /Getty Images Europe

He predicted that Mr Johnson would be forced to step down whatever the result, noting that Theresa May resigned only months after winning a similar vote of no confidence by a margin of 63 per cent to 37 per cent.

Mr Ross was the first senior Tory to publicly demand the Prime Minister resign after it emerged Mr Johnson had attended a party in the Downing Street garden on May 20, 2020, during the first lockdown.

His intervention triggered a fierce backlash from Mr Johnson's allies,

Jacob Rees-Mogg calling Mr Ross a political "lightweight".

One of the few Scottish Tory parliamentarians who supports the Prime Minister told the Sunday Times yesterday that Mr Ross's decision to "go early and go ugly" in calling for Mr Johnson to quit had "boxed him into a corner and might end up in grief ".

He said the view at Westminster was that Ross had been "childish" and had "marginalised himself" by publicly leading the demands for Mr Johnson's resignation.

But Mr Kerr told BBC Scotland's Sunday Show: "Douglas Ross's mandate comes from the Scottish Conservative Party and its membership - it's a completely separate issue. Douglas is staying put - Douglas is there for good.

"Douglas Ross is doing a great job. It's Douglas Ross's principle leadership, I think, that is shining a very bright light on all of this."

Asked how Mr Ross could ask voters to back a party led by Mr Johnson in an election, Mr Kerr reiterated he did not think the Prime Minister would survive the scandal in office.

He said: "I think the longer it takes for the Sue Gray report to come out, the more detail there's going to be in it, the more investigation that will have taken place.

"I think there's an inevitability to what happens next and it gives me, as you can imagine, no joy whatsoever about a Conservative Prime Minister having to leave office, but I think that is where this ends up."

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