Prime Minister Boris Johnson “can’t ignore the message” sent by voters in Thursday’s local elections, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.
Mr Ross has faced criticism for backtracking on his call for the Prime Minister to quit over parties in and around Downing Street during lockdown, citing the need for stability at the top of the UK Government due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Conservatives have struggled in the Scottish council elections, losing key seats and seeing their share of the vote drop by double-digits in a number of wards.
Speaking to the BBC from the election count in Moray, Mr Ross said: “It’s been a difficult night and the results coming in today are very disappointing.”
He highlighted gains in Moray and Aberdeenshire, but said: “In too many parts of Scotland, we’ve lost excellent candidates and councillors haven’t been re-elected because it seems many of our supporters decided to sit this one out, to protest and not cast their vote, and we’ve lost out as a result of that.”
When asked whether he believes Mr Johnson should lead the Conservatives into the next general election, Mr Ross said: “The Prime Minister simply can’t ignore the message that’s been sent from voters not just here in Scotland, but across the UK.
“The Conservatives lost Westminster Council last night – that’s a council that even in the peak Labour years under Tony Blair the party held on to – so there’s been a very strong message from the public to the Prime Minister and to the party.”
Former Scottish Tory leader Baroness Ruth Davidson, speaking on Twitter, said the party had to compete against a “40 odd year high watermark” set under her leadership in 2017.
“There’s still results coming in and @ScotTories have already breached the 200 mark – for comparison, we went into the 2017 elex with 112,” she said.
“There were also some real pockets of light, like N Ayrshire where we added significantly to our group.”
She also leant her support to Douglas Ross, stressing gains made at last year’s Holyrood election.
“In terms of questions of leadership, I know what it’s like to lose seats at my first local election, before coming back stronger,” she said.
“The Scottish party needs to pull together around (Douglas Ross) leadership.
“Just 12 months go he led @ScotTories to its best ever Holyrood result.”