Scots MP says perception of Tories in Scotland will be boosted by ‘not having Boris Johnson’

Andrew Bowie MP has claimed whoever the next Prime Minister is will boost the Scottish Tories because it will not be Boris Johnson.

Andrew Bowie MP
Andrew Bowie MP

The West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP claimed whoever replaced Mr Johnson would have a better chance in Scotland just by virtue of not being him.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Mr Bowie also called for improved relations with the Scottish Government as he set out the priorities for an incoming Prime Minister.

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Praising the leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross, the 35-year-old also insisted his party could win in Holyrood next time out.

He said: “Douglas has come under a lot of criticism, but he added 100,000 votes in 2021, that’s not something to be scoffed at.

“As to how we improve our perception, I hate to say it but just not having Boris Johnson will be a huge part.

“He was very unpopular and there’s no way of getting away from that.

“Whoever comes after him will be in a better position than he was, even though I do think Boris Johnson delivered for Scotland.

“Because of that perceived unpopularity, I think there was a hesitance to come to Scotland.

“We need to show we are the ones offering the hand of friendship and delivering for the people of Scotland.

Mr Bowie, who is supporting Rishi Sunak for leader, claimed whoever replaced Mr Johnson would need to focus on growth and the economy.

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He said: “There needs to be a refocusing on the agenda of growth, rebuilding friendships with our European allies, improving trade, a renewed focus on our industrial strategy and obviously a focus on reducing the burden of tax.

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“Also there should be a focus on improving relations with the devolved administrations, without being afraid to stand up and say we see something differently.”

Challenged on how they would unite the party after the bruising contest, Mr Bowie criticised the length of the leadership race.

He said: “The process is too long, we should have it over a shorter period of time.

“It’s not as damaging to the party as people are making it out to be, it’s a robust exchange of ideas and robust debate.

“The Tory party is a broad church with differing views and at the end of this we are all going to come together.

“It’s worth remembering we have not had a leadership like this in the party’s history.

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“In 2019 Boris Johnson was always going to win, and in 2016 Theresa May won by default because Andrea Leadsom dropped out.

“We have never had this battle among ourselves to decide the next Prime Minister, and it’s an odd position that is uncomfortable at times.

“But it’s not something doing irreparable damage, and the Tory party has a unique ability to come together because we firmly believe we are better in government than not in government.”

Mr Bowie also praised the former Chancellor Mr Sunak, and warned whoever wins must have a cabinet from across the party.

He said: “If Liz Truss were to win she’s already said she will create a cabinet of all the talent in the party.

"She cannot govern for just one part of the party, but all of it, and the Tory party is at it’s best when it does that.”

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