BORIS Johnson’s conspicuous absence in Scotland during the election campaign has led to his party being branded “chicken”.

The Prime Minister has not stepped foot in Scotland since February, when he visited several vaccination sites and insisted “wild horses” wouldn’t keep him from returning.

Douglas Ross has suggested the UK party leader’s no-show is due to coronavirus restrictions and a busy schedule. Opponents maintain it is because of his “toxic” reputation in Scotland.

The row has escalated once more after the Prime Minister visited Hartlepool, just 90 miles south of the Border, for a campaign visit ahead of local elections in England.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “It’s hard to tell anymore whether Boris Johnson is refusing to be seen with Douglas Ross or if Douglas Ross is refusing to be seen with Boris Johnson in the hope Scotland will forget who really pulls the Scottish Tories’ strings.

“The Tories are simply chicken when it comes to putting their real boss in front of the people of Scotland. They are running scared of Scotland’s verdict on Boris Johnson.

“And it speaks volumes that the UK Prime Minister can make it to the north of England but not another 90 miles up the road to Scotland. No wonder the Tories think they couldn’t win a vote on Scotland’s future with Johnson in charge.”

The National:

READ MORE: Douglas Ross makes 'nonsense' excuse for Boris Johnson avoiding Scotland

Both the Scottish and UK Conservative parties have been contacted for comment.

Ross has repeatedly faced tricky questions about his Westminster boss’s absence from the campaign trail.

Speaking on this weekend’s Andrew Marr show, the Scottish Tory leader said: “Well the Prime Minister knows I’m leading the party here in Scotland, it’s the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidates that are on the ballot paper, not the Prime Minister, and it's our manifesto that's going forward to the people of Scotland in just a few days’ time.

“The reason he has not been to Scotland is because I’m leading the campaign here in Scotland. I am the one taking the fight to the SNP to try and get the next Scottish Parliament laser-focused on her recovery and rebuilding.”

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak (below) has been told he “can’t be trusted” to manage Scotland’s economy after the Chancellor claimed independence could wreck Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic.

The National: Rishi Sunak

The Tory minister warned indyref2 would “needlessly divide” the country at the “worst possible time”. He insisted it was “vital” for the UK to “stick together” and argued Scotland is a “stronger nation” because it’s part of the UK.

However, the SNP hit back saying the Chancellor himself is the biggest threat to the nation’s financial recovery. They pointed to Sunak’s support for austerity and also highlighted his reluctance to extend the furlough scheme late last year, eventually doing so across the UK only when the measures were required in England.

Brown said: “We cannot trust the Tories to do the right thing for the Scottish economy. Sunak has already set out his post-Covid Budget which will see a return to crippling Tory austerity.

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“Scotland suffered 10 years of Tory cuts, which plunged thousands into poverty and forced families to use food banks to ensure they could put food on the table, we cannot afford to return to another decade of austerity.

“And no-one will forget the insulting attitude the Chancellor took when it came to the needs of Scotland’s workforce, refusing for weeks to extend furlough when we needed it, only to do it immediately when it was required in England. In that one action he showed that the Tories will always put the needs of Scotland last.

“As we look towards our recovery, returning to austerity does not have to be the only way. We cannot trust the Tories to keep Scotland safe and make the decisions that best suit the people of Scotland.”