Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said voters are more concerned with the next five years of the Scottish Parliament than the scandals ongoing at Westminster.
The Prime Minister has been under fire in recent weeks over concerns about a text exchange with billionaire investor Sir James Dyson in which Boris Johnson he would “fix” a tax issue for his staff working on making ventilators in the early part of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the Electoral Commission announced it would investigate whether the Conservative Party paid for the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat, saying there is “reasonable grounds” to believe an offence may have occurred, despite the protestations of Mr Johnson.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Douglas Ross said he did not believe the issues at Westminster would impact on how his party does at next week’s Holyrood election
“People are aware of questions that are being raised, inquiries that are being held, issues in terms of lobbying that effect both the UK Government and the Scottish Government,” he said.
He added: “However, what I’m picking up, is people are more interested in the next five years here in Scotland, what this parliament is going to be focused on, will it be another referendum or can we get it united behind our efforts to secure a recovery and rebuild our country?”
He continued: “That would either be a Scottish Parliament with a majority SNP government that would take us back to more division, or a Scottish Parliament where the Scottish Conservatives stop that SNP majority that will work towards securing our recovery.”
Boris Johnson’s approval ratings in Scotland have consistently been negative for the Prime Minister, prompting some to question if he would be an effective campaign tool for the Tories north of the border.
Despite previously saying “wild horses” couldn’t keep him away, Douglas Ross said last week it would be unlikely for the Prime Minister to campaign in Scotland.
When asked if it was more important now than ever for the Prime Minister to remain in Westminster, Mr Ross said: “People understand that I am leading the campaign in Scotland, it’s my team, my manifesto, my name on the ballot paper, our candidates are seeking election to Holyrood, that’s why our focus is on our bold, ambitious, positive plans for Scotland.
“That’s how I’ll be campaigning over the next few days and right up to May 6.”
Mr Ross has take criticism from other leaders during the campaign, with Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie describing him as a “dark force” in Scottish politics, while Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said in Tuesday’s Channel 4 debate “the cuddly Tories under Ruth Davidson are well and truly gone”.
When asked about the comments, Mr Ross said: “They obviously decide to play the man, not the ball.
“I’ve not launched any personal attacks on Anas Sarwar or Willie Rennie, I’ve made it very clear in this election I’m going to stay above that, focus on our plans for delivering right across Scotland, that’s why I’m excited about our manifesto, excited about what we offer people in every part of Scotland and I’m not going to get dragged into name calling.”
During his speech to the Scottish Tory conference last month, Mr Ross urged the opposition parties to work with them to stop and SNP majority, before going on to describe the Lib Dems as “teetering on the brink of political extinction” and Labour were “weak” full stop.
The Scottish Tory leader said those comments were directed at the parties and not personal attacks on their leaders.