Douglas Ross dodges questions on Boris Johnson’s devolution comments – and says SNP incapable of improving the lives of people in Scotland

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross repeatedly evaded questions about Boris Johnson's remarks that devolution has been a "disaster” – and said SNP are incapable of improving the lives of people in Scotland “because they’re obsessed with independence”.

The Prime Minister reportedly said Scottish devolution has been a “disaster north of the border” in a conference call with northern Tory MPs, and called it “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”.

Challenged on the comments, Mr Ross said it is “healthy” if politicians in the same party disagree on certain issues, but would not say whether he has talked to Mr Johnson about his controversial remarks.

Mr Ross instead cited the PM’s two terms as London mayor as evidence of his support for devolution, and then heaped praise on Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic support for the whole of the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson, left, with Douglas Ross.

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He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday that he and Mr Johnson always have “a robust exchange of opinions”, but would not say what they discussed when they spoke this week.

Asked if he believes the Prime Minister should resign, and whether someone like Mr Sunak or Michael Gove would offer more effective leadership as support for Scottish independence grows, Mr Ross said: “Rishi Sunak, along with the Prime Minister, is promoting the party up here.

“Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme has protected almost a million jobs here in Scotland.

“But the Prime Minister has a levelling up agenda that we will see benefiting Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland and this is a Government that is determined to ensure that when we get through this Covid pandemic, we can see significant investment in all parts of the country.”

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Responding to the suggestion that further devolution could strengthen support for the union, Mr Ross said: “The answer is to have a government in Scotland that uses the powers it currently has to deliver for people in Scotland.

“We’re not getting that while our education system is suffering, where our health service is not being supported, where our local economy is not backed up by decisions from the Scottish Government.

“We just need to use the powers we’ve got in Scotland to improve the lives of people in Scotland, and we can do that. The SNP can’t because they’re obsessed with independence.”

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