Douglas Ross warns Humza Yousaf could lead Scotland into 'disaster' as Alister Jack says Scottish Government 'in chaos'

The Scottish Tory leader was speaking at a fringe during Conservative conference.

Douglas Ross has warned Humza Yousaf could lead Scotland into “disaster”, as Alister Jack claimed the Scottish Government was “in chaos”.

Kicking off the Conservative conference in Manchester, the Scottish Tory leader vowed to win back voters who had been “forgotten” by the SNP.

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With a general election expected in 2024, Mr Ross promised his party would fully dual the A9 to Inverness and the A96 “as soon as possible” – although he acknowledged transport was a devolved issue.His announcement came as the Scotland Secretary insisted the "Union is stronger than ever, thanks to his Government".

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Ross took aim at Mr Yousaf’s record and his partnership with the “extremist” Scottish Greens.

He said: “Humza Yousaf is a danger to Scotland. He could drive Scotland to disaster if we’re not careful.

“We call him useless – but actually he’s reckless. He’s certainly more reckless than Nicola Sturgeon.

“On independence, he is more rash, irresponsible and hasty than even Nicola Sturgeon was at her worst.

“He is prepared to push harder and more aggressively than she did for independence.

“He has said it himself – in next year’s general election – even if he loses a bunch of his MPs but manages to squeak a majority by a single seat, no matter his share of the vote, he will declare independence.

“Even Nicola Sturgeon would have dismissed that plan as too far.”

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Mr Ross claimed Mr Yousaf, who represents Glasgow Pollok and lives in the Dundee area, “only thinks of his own backyard” and does nothing for the rest of Scotland.

Mr Yousaf has insisted the Scottish Government is still “absolutely committed” to ensuring the A9, which runs from Perth to Inverness in the Highlands, is converted to dual carriageway.

The First Minister said the Government will update MSPs on the overall timescale for completing the dualling of the A9 “later this year”.

Mr Ross said: “There is no way that a similar situation would be tolerated on the M8.

“Yet because it concerns the north of the country it is repeatedly moved down the priority list.”

He gave a “cast iron” commitment to dual the road, but acknowledged it was a devolved matter for Holyrood.

But “pressure from the UK Government” and a large intake of Scottish Conservative MPs would “hold the SNP’s feet to the fire”, Mr Ross said.

The Scottish Conservative leader added the First Minister was only interested in the Central Belt and was leaving behind voters in other areas and those who did not support independence.

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He also highlighted plans for a Local Policing Act and the recruitment of 1,000 extra officers.

His comments were echoed on the main stage of conference just hours later by the Scotland Secretary, who attacked both the SNP and the Scottish Greens.

He said: “The SNP and their Green coalition masters, are dragging Scotland down and more and more people have come to the obvious conclusion:

"If the Nationalists can’t even organise a bottle Deposit Return Scheme properly, all their talk of removing Scotland from the United Kingdom is pure fantasy.

“The SNP are increasingly looking like a busted flush.

“There could not be a clearer contrast between a Nationalist, SNP-Green Scottish Government that is in chaos, that is failing, and that is letting people down by putting their obsession with leaving the UK above everything it tries to do.

"And this UK Conservative Government, under the outstanding leadership of Rishi Sunak, that is 100-per-cent focused on the issues that really matter most to people in Scotland and across the whole of the UK”.

The Dumfries and Galloway MP, who is standing down at the next election, also told Tory supporters the philosophy of "devolve and forget” was over, with the UK Government now able to work with councils in Scotland to deliver “scores of projects”.

He said: “I can announce the era of ‘devolve and forget’ is over. It is dead. Finished. And I can promise you it is not coming back under my watch.

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“On scores of projects, we are now working directly with local councils and other responsible delivery partners. I call that real devolution.

“No longer can the failing SNP-Green administration hoard decision-making power and resources at Holyrood, using it for their own political purposes, rather than the priorities of most people in Scotland. My view of devolution is straightforward.

“It is about Scotland’s two governments, at Westminster and Holyrood, respecting each other’s roles and working together where we can.”

It came on a day that saw an improved mood among Tory MPs, with several insisting they felt the party was closing in on Labour.The view was not shared, however, by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who said he would not bet on the Conservatives winning the next election.

Lord Houchen, who received a peerage in former prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list, told an event on the fringe of the Conservative Party Conference that the party “can” win the general election, but still had more to do.

He said: “Just look back. This is not complex, politics is not complex. We’ve had three prime ministers in 12, 15 months. It doesn’t matter whether you like the Conservative Party or not, people are not going to get behind a party that has gone through the last 12 or 15 months.”

He added that, having “calmed things down”, the Prime Minister now had to set out his own agenda “before Christmas” to show 2019 Tory supporters why they should vote for the party again.

SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “The SNP has a strong track record in delivering for communities right across Scotland – from rolling out game-changing family and child benefits, to overseeing record staffing in our NHS, and supporting our farmers, crofters and agriculture sector.

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“In contrast, the Tories at Westminster have ignored Scotland’s interests for decades; dragging us out of the EU against our will, short-changing the Scottish Government at every turn, and attempting a power grab on our Scottish Parliament by bypassing devolution.

“With independence, Scotland will get the governments we vote for – and we will not be forced to pay the price of Tory economic mismanagement and incompetence.”