Scottish Tory leader says Boris Johnson should quit – but only when Ukraine war is over

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Douglas Ross - Peter Jolly/Northpix
Douglas Ross - Peter Jolly/Northpix

The leader of the Scottish Tories on Wednesday said Boris Johnson should resign over the partygate scandal – but only when the war in Ukraine was over.

Douglas Ross was accused of flip-flopping after he responded to revelations in the Sue Gray report by adopting another stance on the Prime Minister’s future.

In January, Mr Ross called for Mr Johnson’s resignation after he admitted attending a Downing Street party during lockdown.

However, in March he withdrew a letter of no confidence to the 1922 committee, claiming a Tory leadership battle would play into the hands of Vladimir Putin.

Following the publication of Ms Gray’s report, Mr Ross said he and other MPs would retract their backing for Mr Johnson to remain in post once the Ukraine conflict was over.

“I think he should step down [when the war ends],” Mr Ross told Sky News after being pushed for a clear answer over his position. “I changed my position because of the war in Ukraine.

“Therefore if the war in Ukraine is over, the Prime Minister doesn’t have the same support that he has at the moment, not just from me but from other MPs who called for him to resign.”

However, Mr Ross emphasised that the situation in Ukraine had not changed and that there appeared to be little sign of the conflict ending soon, meaning Mr Johnson should remain for now.

The partygate scandal was blamed by Mr Ross for the Scottish Tories’ disappointing performance in this month’s council elections, which saw them fall behind Labour for the first time in nearly a decade.

The Scottish Conservative leader also suggested on Wednesday that if Mr Johnson was found to have deliberately misled Parliament by the privileges committee this would also change his mind over whether he should immediately step down.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the leader of the Scottish LibDems, said Mr Ross’s latest position over whether the Prime Minister should quit was “absolutely bonkers”.

He said the Ukraine war could last for several years, meaning Mr Ross would face campaigning in the next general election to help elect a Prime Minister “he could try to oust at any time”.

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said Mr Ross should “grow a backbone” and re-submit his letter of no confidence to the 1922 committee.

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, has consistently backed Mr Johnson to remain in post and said the Prime Minister retained his “full support”.

“I understand that people are angry about what happened in Downing Street,” he said. "The Prime Minister has apologised again, and made clear that he takes full responsibility for what went on in Number 10.

“The Prime Minister is tackling the rising cost of living at home and leading the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now, we all need to get behind him and back him in dealing with these important issues.”