The Scottish Tory leader has launched an extraordinary attack on Boris Johnson by stating that Scots are not “absolutely wrong” in their low opinion of him and Nicola Sturgeon is a better communicator.
Douglas Ross said “most objective people” would say the First Minister, who holds a briefing every weekday, has communicated better with the public during the pandemic than Mr Johnson,
The Prime Minister has recorded dismal approval ratings in a series of opinion polls, while Ms Sturgeon’s figures and support for independence have surged in recent months.
Pressed whether Mr Johnson harms case for the Union, Mr Ross said: “You can’t say that the people of Scotland are absolutely wrong in their ratings for their various leaders”
His incendiary intervention came only hours after he gave a keynote speech stating Scots have turned to independence after becoming “alienated” by the UK Government’s “winner takes all” approach to Brexit.
The Scottish Tory leader accused the Government of considering only the views of Brexit supporters and ignoring Remain voters north of the Border who still feel “aggrieved” at the 2016 referendum result.
A major poll published last week found Scottish voters’ “loathing” for the Prime Minister was the main factor behind the recent surge in support for independence, which it said had increased to 56 per cent.
While 84 per cent of swing voters said the UK Government had handled the pandemic badly, 74 per cent said the Scottish Government had performed well.
In an interview with ITV News, Mr Ross said: “I think most objective people would say she’s a better communicator than the Prime Minister”.
Speaking earlier to the Policy Exchange think tank, he urged Mr Johnson to involve the Scottish Government in trade talks, a more flexible immigration system for Scotland and a formal framework for engagement between Holyrood and Westminster.
In addition, he said the House of Lords should be reformed to include “formal representation of our nations and regions”.
But the Moray MP said that more important than any constitutional changes was the UK Government working to ” reunite our country around a new consensus, re-establish our shared values and move our country on from the division of the EU referendum.”
He predicted that support for independence, which currently stands at around 56 per cent, would fall again if the Prime Minister made “our shared Union values of openness and inclusion a part of everything the government does.”
His intervention came after a detailed poll last week found Brexit was a factor behind the surge in support for separation, but the most significant factor was public dislike of Mr Johnson.
Speaking at an event organised by the Policy Exchange think tank, Mr Ross said: “There is no getting away from the fact that Brexit and how it has been delivered has undermined the perception that there are common shared values that unite us.
“We failed to bring our country back together again after the vote. Leave and Remain parts still feel divided more than four years on from the decision.
“We did not build a consensus around delivering Brexit. Instead there has been a ‘winner takes all’ approach.”
Brexit has been damaging to support for the UK because it undermined, in the eyes of many, those common values shared across our nations. pic.twitter.com/KkB8jVaGl6
— Scottish Conservatives (@ScotTories) November 2, 2020
Mr Ross said there were major economic reasons to retain the Union, with 60 per cent of Scottish exports going to the rest of the UK compared to only 19 per cent to the EU.
Unionists can also argue the democratic mandates from both the 2014 independence and 2016 EU referendums must be respected, he said.
But he warned: “These practical arguments do not address the emotional disconnect that a person in Edinburgh who voted No and Remain felt when they saw celebrations in London.”