Douglas Ross: Voters won’t use elections to punish me for stance on partygate

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Douglas Ross has dismissed claims that voters will use the local elections to voice anger over his response to the Prime Minister’s partygate fines.

Instead, he hit out at the SNP manifesto saying it rehashes old policies and focuses on Scottish independence.

His comments come as he ruled out Boris Johnson visiting Scotland to help the Scottish Conservatives campaign ahead of the May 5 elections.

Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were handed fixed penalty notices this month for attending Downing Street gatherings while the country was in lockdown.

Cabinet Meeting
Both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak received fixed penalty notices for illegal lockdown gatherings (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Scottish Conservative leader faced criticism from political opponents when he said he would not call on Mr Johnson to resign as Prime Minister.

That is despite saying his position was “no longer tenable” in January, when details of the gatherings first emerged.

Mr Ross said it is not the right time to ask the Prime Minister to step aside – primarily because of the turmoil caused by the war in Ukraine.

However, Mr Ross said Mr Johnson’s actions were “completely unacceptable” but said he stands by his decision.

The war in Ukraine, he said, is still resulting in atrocities which means Britain “needs to have stability”.

And he hit out at Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP party for focussing on the constitutional issue of Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.

When asked by PA news agency if voters would use their ballot on May 5 to express anger at his response to Boris Johnson’s partygate fines, Mr Ross said voters would “decide for themselves”.

However, he said his Tory council candidates were focused on local issues tailored to communities – in comparison to the SNP, he said.

Speaking as he toured Leading Edge Flight Training in Paisley on Tuesday, he said: “(Voters) know that the Scottish Conservatives are focused on local issues.

“Our manifesto is very much a commitment to deliver people’s local priorities, in contrast to the SNP manifesto which rehashed a lot of what they stood for at Holyrood last year.”

The SNP manifesto, unveiled last week, outlined priorities including tackling the cost-of-living crisis, supporting the introduction of a National Care Service and progress towards the target of 110,000 new homes by 2032.

Mr Ross said the SNP manifesto had “no new vision, no new ideas and a very tired, stale Government that doesn’t even have plans for local authorities.”

He added: “Nicola Sturgeon is saying she still wants a referendum as early as next year.

“People know the Scottish Conservatives are the only party that will stand up for Scotland’s place in the UK and oppose these reckless plans for another referendum.”

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