DOUGLAS Ross has insisted on staying on as leader of the Scottish Conservatives despite what he admitted was a “very disappointing result” for his party at the Scottish council elections.
Ross said that despite losing 63 seats and being pushed into third place by Labour he is “here for the long-haul”.
The MP and MSP was answering questions from journalists on Saturday after the Tories suffered blows across the UK.
There are reports that informal talks have already begun to replace Ross as leader of the Scottish Conservatives while former colleague Adam Tomkins urged him not to lay the blame for Scottish losses at Boris Johnson.
The Daily Record reported one Tory MSP as saying Ross’ U-turn on calling for Boris Johnson to resign was a disaster.
The MSP said Ross had “lost all credibility.”
But Ross vowed to go on as party leader, and said the Tories will work hard to regain voters’ trust.
He said: “There are always questions about leadership immediately after an election. I’ve been clear that I’m in this for the long run.
“We had our best ever result in a Scottish Parliament election under my leadership just 12 months ago and we had a difficult night on Thursday into the count on Friday.
“I was here when we had a very good result and I’m still here it when we’ve had a disappointing result, and we’ve lost too many excellent candidates who would have done great work in their local area.”
Ross said the Scottish Tories were within just two percentage points of overtaking Labour on the share of the vote, adding that “none of the opinion polls were suggesting in the lead up to this election”.
He continued: “We will, as a team – that’s the council team, the MSP team, the MP team, the staff and central office and our activists across the country – redouble our efforts to win back these voters who sent a very clear message that they were unhappy at this time.
“But we can win them back again, by working extra hard to show how strong we are against the SNP, how we have the alternative policies to take Scotland forward.
“We’re the party that’s got more policies on education, on health, on drugs on justice than any other we’re bringing forward bills in the Parliament at the moment to show that it’s an alternative to the SNP that isn’t coming from any other party.”
The Scottish Tory leader said voters across the UK expressed that they were unhappy with Johnson.
Ross said: “Voters have been very clear in Scotland, and in many parts of England, particularly in London, and across Wales, that they are not happy with the Prime Minister or partygate.
“And we have to listen to that. But my view has always been clear that a conflict between two nations in Europe at this crucial stage is something that we have to treat with the utmost seriousness, and therefore we need stability at the top of the UK Government, while the people of Ukraine continue to try and defend themselves.”