DOUGLAS Ross cannot be accused of “flip-flopping” on support for Boris Johnson, a Scottish Tory MP has claimed.

Andrew Bowie was appearing on BBC Scotland’s The Nine when he was asked about the Scottish Conservative leader’s changes in position on whether Johnson was fit to be prime minister.

After calling for this resignation over partygate, Ross then backed Johnson to remain as prime minister through the Ukraine war, only to submit a vote of no confidence weeks later.

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Asked if Ross could survive the perceived U-turns in his position, Bowie said: “Absolutely, I don’t think Douglas Ross can be accused of flip-flopping …

“Douglas Ross said the prime minister should resign when the question was first put to him, then of course the world changed when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, and I think he did the decent thing as did many of us and got behind the prime minister …

“Now we’re in the position where the question was put again, ultimately none of us could defend what was going on in Downing Street, nor the inability of Downing Street to learn the lessons of the past and we decided that now was the time for the prime minister to go.”

Bowie said Ross (below) was in a “very strong position” at the head of the Scottish Tories, pointing to the 31 MSPs returned in the 2021 Holyrood elections. The party also returned a net loss of 62 councillors in the 2022 local elections.

The National: Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross reacts to the First Minister's statement to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, on her plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2023. Picture date: Tuesday June 28,

Asked about the Union, Bowie said the reason the Tories “continue to say now is not the time [for indyref2] is because now is not the time”.

Asked if he was scared of the result of a second referendum, Bowie said he though it would be “deeply damaging for us to go into a divisive and damaging referendum which will divide friends and families”.

Pressed on the SNP’s frequent election victories, Bowie claimed that indyref2 was not a priority of the Scottish people. He said the Tories “acknowledge [the SNP] have a right to govern” but claimed the party was not addressing the issues facing Scotland.

The Scottish Tory further told the BBC it would be “wrong” to call Johnson a failed prime minister, insisting he had delivered some great successes during his time in office. Bowie pointed to his support of Ukraine, the vaccine roll-out, and Brexit as evidence of Johnson’s achievements.

Bowie, unlike Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, has expressed support for his preferred candidate in the race to replace Johnson.

The West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP told the BBC: “Rishi Sunak has been tested in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic. He delivered the financial response to Covid and has developed some of our policies to try and help people through the most difficult period that we’ve been experiencing since 1945, the cost of living crisis.

“He’s delivered at the top of government and I think he’s exactly what the Conservative party and the country needs.”

Bowie said that other candidates were “conducting some sort of fairytale” with promises of immediate tax cuts should they win the leadership race. Sunak is the only candidate not to have pledged to cut taxes, instead saying he will run the economy like Margaret Thatcher.