Tories on brink of imploding as Jacob Rees-Mogg dismisses Douglas Ross as 'lightweight'
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has been branded a "lightweight" by his colleagues in London after he called for Boris Johnson to resign over the so-called partygate scandal.
In separate interviews on Wednesday, the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg attacked the Moray MP and Highlands and Islands list MSP, dismissing him as insignificant compared to Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack.
On Newsnight, he was told that the party's 31 MSPs in Holyrood had given Ross their support.
"The people that you depend on to hold up the union think that Boris Johnson should quit, that I would suggest you as a very serious matter," host Kirsty Wark pointed out.
Rees-Mogg replied: "The Secretary of State for Scotland who is a big figure is very supportive of the Prime Minister.
"Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure."
Jack, who has publicly backed Johnson, was “much more substantial and important,” he added.
In an earlier view he, wrongly, claimed Ross had “never supported the prime minister”. However, he was a prominent supporter of Johnson in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership contest.
“I don’t think Douglas Ross is a big figure,” Rees-Mogg told LBC. “I think Alister Jack is a really serious and senior figure.
“He [Ross] has been constantly in opposition to the prime minister, against Brexit; he is not somebody you would expect to say helpful things about the prime minister.”
Levelling up minister Michael Gove also mocked Ross, telling journalists: “My instant response is he’s in Elgin and the national Tory leader is in London.”
On the BBC's Good Morning Scotland show former Tory MSP Professor Adam Tomkins hit back at Rees-Mogg.
He said: “There’s a ‘Save Boris’ operation going on at the moment, which you would expect Jacob Rees-Mogg to be… at the head of. That explains why Jacob Rees-Mogg was very rude and dismissive about Douglas yesterday.
“Jacob’s got this wrong – I don’t agree with anything that Jacob said about this matter.
“Douglas is a man of principle and a man of steel, and he will lead the Scottish Conservatives in the direction he thinks he needs to lead them in order to secure that credible fighting voice for centre-right ideas in Scottish politics.”
Prof Tomkins, who quit Holyrood last year, suggested the row could fuel calls for the party in Scotland to split from the party south of the border.
“I think there will always be ties but I think that Douglas and his team need to do some deep and serious thinking about exactly what the nature of those ties should be,” he said.
“All of the bad days the Scottish Tories have in Holyrood are not caused by the Scottish Tories in Holyrood, they are caused by events 400 miles south. And they need to reflect on that.
“The Scottish Conservative Party have a range of really important, substantive ideas to bring to the table in Scotland about economic policy and about social policy, and they are being drowned out because of the pantomime of the politics of Boris Johnson.”
Polling guru, Professor John Curtice, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland that the Tories were at risk of imploding.
He said: “What is certainly true is that, and we can anticipate that if Mr Johnson is still there and the leader of the House of Commons is still there, that those words are going to get repeated endlessly north of the border.
“It certainly shows how, given the difficulties the Conservatives are now in, they are at risk of beginning to implode themselves as a result of the internal fighting within the party.”
Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis defended Johnson this morning, telling Sky News that he thought Johnson was still “the right person to be prime minister” and would “be able to go forward and win a general election” for the Tories.
He said: “We have got work to do. We have got to deliver on exactly on what the prime minister set up, which is some of the biggest important reforms dealing with issues the country would have liked to have dealt with years ago, like health and social care, issues in Northern Ireland that haven’t been dealt with in decades.
“This is somebody who wants to deal with that and do it in a way that delivers for everybody in the UK, and that is why I think he will win the next election.”