'Douglas Ross got it right when it mattered' over Boris Johnson no confidence vote, says Ian Duncan

The Scottish Conservative leader ‘got it right when it mattered’ over the Boris Johnson no confidence vote, a Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords has said.

Ian Duncan, former minister, said Boris Johnson has a “task ahead of him” and he is “on probation” following a confidence vote which saw 148 of Tory MPs against the PM and 211 vote in favour of him.

In the vote, the Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said he voted against Johnson alongside fellow Tory MPs Andrew Bowie, John Lamont and David Mundell, leaving their remaining colleagues Alister Jack and David Duguid as the only two Scottish Tories to back him.

Ross faced criticism for “flip-flopping” in his decision to vote against the Prime Minister after claims the previous week that any attempt to remove him would "only help Vladimir Putin”. Before that, he also wrote a letter to the 1922 committee calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation over partygate.

Scottish Conservative party leader Douglas Ross during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh (Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire).

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Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Morning show, Ian Duncan said: “The important thing is Douglas Ross got it right when it mattered. He cast a vote for what he believed to be right, he did so against a Prime Minister, a leader of a party which he’s belonged to for many years, that in itself is a good sign. But the real test now is over the coming months how is an approach now created between the leader of the United Kingdom Party and the leader of the Scottish Party. That will be a test for both Boris Johnson and for Douglas Ross but they both must rise to that test because there’s a country to be governed and you can’t simply abdicate you need to be able to work collaboratively even with people you don’t enjoy or hold a degree of confidence.”

Yet asked about his position as an MP, Lord Duncan said: “If you can’t ride two horses at the same time, you shouldn’t be in the circus.”

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Discussing whether the Scottish Conservative party needs to distance itself from the UK party and the leadership of Johnson, Lord Duncan said: “The reality remains they are too separate entities and Douglas Ross leads the Scottish Conservative party in a devolved situation.

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“If he (Boris Johnson) can make people almost forget what has happened over the last few months then he has a slim chance of carrying on but I would have thought that would be very slim”

Lord Duncan added that if the Prime Minister can deliver on issues such as the cost of living then there is a “possibility” he can “come through this”.

The comments come after his former Brexit minister, Lord Frost, warned Boris Johnson has until the autumn to set out a clear Conservative vision for the future or face being ousted by his own MPs.

Despite having survived a bruising vote of confidence on Monday, Lord Frost said the Prime Minister could not afford to ignore the “depth of opposition” he faces within his own party.

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Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said the biggest problem now facing the Government was not the issue of lockdown parties in Downing Street, but that voters did not understand what it was trying to do.

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