Douglas Ross claims SNP MSPs approached him on working together over ‘frustration’ with Scottish Government

Douglas Ross claims SNP MSPs are in active discussions on how to oppose certain aspects of Humza Yousaf’s Government.

Douglas Ross has claimed SNP MSPS have approached him on working together over “frustration” with the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Conservatives leader suggested there was growing unhappiness in the SNP over Humza Yousaf’s leadership, with MSPs now actively talking to Tories about how they can best hold the Scottish Parliament to account.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And he has urged any disaffected SNP MPs to join with his party in any future vote against the continuation of the Bute House Agreement – the partnership struck in 2021 that has placed the Scottish Greens in government.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed he'd been approached by unhappy MSPs.Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed he'd been approached by unhappy MSPs.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed he'd been approached by unhappy MSPs.

Speaking at Tory conference in Manchester, the Moray MP suggested the unease had now gone public, as he pointed towards the accusation by former SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes that Holyrood was letting down the Highlands.

Mr Ross said: “I have spoken to members of the SNP who have raised concerns with me about the direction of their government, and would look at ways that Parliament can hold the SNP to account, and that clearly shows a frustration with some members of the current governing party of Scotland that their own leadership is not listening to them.

“I have been contacted, and I have had discussions, with backbench members of the SNP.

“You just have to look at the interview Kate Forbes gave today. She’s saying that the Highlands are being ignored by Holyrood, and that’s exactly the message I have been given.

“What I would say is Kate Forbes and others, who have raised serious concerns about the SNP leadership and the direction of the Scottish Government, have to ultimately decide what’s more important – backing Humza Yousaf and the SNP to continue being in office to agitate for independence at every opportunity, or is it standing up for their constituents, who even the SNP can see have been let down by the SNP after 16 years of power.”

Ms Forbes had criticised the Scottish Government on Monday for ignoring the needs of the Highlands and islands. The former finance secretary claimed Highlanders were often ignored when ministers design policies such as education and highly-protected marine areas.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP also praised fellow Highlands MSP Fergus Ewing, who last week was suspended from the SNP.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Ross declined to say whether he had spoken to Ms Forbes, or who he had or hadn’t spoken to. He also did not put a number on how many unhappy MSPs had contacted him.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said. “But it’s interesting that elected SNP politicians are keen to speak to, and I’m sure it’s not just me, but other opposition members in Holyrood because there’s clearly a frustration at how their Government is taking Scotland forward at the moment.”

Mr Ross claimed he sensed a change in tide with SNP MSPs now approaching him, with the party growing frustrated with its direction under the new first minister.

He said: “It was time for some of these backbenchers to make their views known. I can criticise this Scottish Government and people would say ‘well you would say that, you’re in opposition’. But it’s interesting my criticism is mirrored by people within the SNP who are frustrated at the moment, and can see that after 16 years, this is a Government that doesn’t stand up for many parts of Scotland, and ignores their needs and concerns”.

Outside of Ms Forbes and Mr Ewing, another former leadership contender Ash Regan, along with MSPs Michell Thomson and Ivan McKee, are those know to have publicly criticised Mr Yousaf’s Government on key issues.

The intervention from Mr Ross follows an ongoing spat within the SNP, with Mr Ewing insisting he will not be “hounded out” of the party as he revealed he will appeal against his one-week suspension.

The former minister spoke out after he was disciplined for rebelling against the leadership.

Asked what sort of action these potential rebels could take, Mr Ross urged anyone unhappy to speak out.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “If they realise the problems me and the Scottish Conservatives have been articulating, then they’ve got to deliver on that, not just continue to say things behind the scenes, while supporting Humza Yousaf to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK as they are currently doing.”

The Scottish Tories leader added: “I hope [they do speak out] because the Green SNP coalition has been one of the worst things for Scotland. I think the direction we have seen [from] this current administration, following the route Nicola Sturgeon had taken by letting the Greens into Government, has had really damaging effects in Scotland and Scottish politics.

“If I can see there is an opportunity in the Scottish Parliament to end the Bute House Agreement, then I hope some of these dissenting voices in the SNP will get behind that and vote the Greens out of office.”

Speaking on the day his party refused to deny a decision had been made to scrap the HS2 leg from Birmingham to Manchester, Mr Ross offered a defiant defence of Rishi Sunak, insisting the Prime Minister still had time to defy the polls.

Mr Sunak is expected to overrule the concerns of Tory grandees, businesses and northern leaders by scrapping the high-speed rail connection to Manchester in a chaotic mid-Conservative conference announcement in the city.

Mr Ross said: “I think he has started to turn it around. We’ve seen the uptick in public opinion polls in recent weeks. I think he has taken forward a number of policies which are particularly relevant to Scotland.

"We’ve had the freeports in two communities in Scotland, we’ve got carbon capture and storage getting the green light, we’ve got new oil and gas licences, which is crucially important to the North Sea and the tens of thousands of jobs that rely on those contracts.

“The polling has shifted, there has been an uptick in recent weeks and we’ve got to see how that continues going forward.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’m very confident we’ll have a good election in Scotland when it’s called next year. I’m very confident that the Conservative party led by Rishi Sunak can go on to have a successful election next year, and we’ll play our part in Scotland, holding the seats we have got and looking to make gains”.

The SNP has been approached for comment.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.