Boris Johnson faces an “uphill challenge” to convince Scots of his vision for Britain, Douglas Ross has admitted.
The Scottish Tory leader, citing poor poll ratings, acknowledged that the prime minister has a battle to persuade voters north of the border to his cause.
The comments, at a Conservative Party conference fringe event, come just days after Mr Ross said Tory MPs in England were “not helping” the unionist case with their “defeatism” and “disinterest”.
The Moray MP, grilled by Tory peer Danny Finkelstein, defended the comments, saying: “I wanted to put down a marker, I think this government and previous governments have been guilty in the past of devolving and forgetting.
“The speech was supposed to be a bit of a wake-up call and for people to reflect on: have they done enough to support the union.”
Mr Ross told his colleagues: “Don’t be so doom-laden about our future, this is a union that has served all four parts of the United Kingdom well for more than 300 years, economically and politically.
“Too often I just hear the narrative from members of the party, but also media based in London, saying the fight is over, independence is inevitable; it’s not.”
Asked if Mr Johnson would help or hinder in that fight, Mr Ross said: “His approval ratings would suggest he’s got an uphill challenge to convince more and more Scots.
“But, he is a proud unionist, he believes in the strength of the four nations of the United Kingdom.
“Whether it’s through the city and growth region deals that now cover right across every part of Scotland, or through the £6.5 billion delivered to Scotland to help us get through the Covid pandemic, this current UK Government, led by the prime minister, are continuing to work hard for the whole of the country.”
Mr Ross, who took the helm of the Scottish party earlier this year, also took aim at Labour, saying he saw “no future” for the party under Richard Leonard.
He told members that Labour voters should back the Tories to put a break on the SNP.
“There should be an alliance behind the strongest party, that party is the Scottish Conservatives.”
Mr Ross also backed votes for 16-year-olds in UK general elections, he said: “At 16 people are forming very solid opinions and they are doing it in a reasoned way.”