The National:

“WOW”. “What an argument”. “Did he not get the memo?”

Those were the responses of the disbelieving SNP MPs in Westminster on Wednesday afternoon after one Tory MP stood up and sang the praises of the Scottish Government.

Luke Evans, the Conservative MP for Bosworth, had been aiming to argue against a second independence referendum when he took everyone by surprise.

Attempting to argue that a vote for the SNP in the Holyrood elections of 2021 was not a vote for indyref2 (despite all the Tory campaign leaflets stating the contrary), Evans told MPs: “A voter in Scotland could have quite happily voted for the SNP knowing full well there’s no way of giving a referendum because there’s no mechanism to be able to do so.

“So they can support the SNP wholeheartedly, knowing full well that it was your positive record on Covid, or the NHS, or anything else like education, with independence falling down that list.”

The Tory’s praise for the SNP’s “positive record” on things like the NHS and education came as some surprise to people who listen to his party colleagues opine on the same subjects.

“Never heard that one before,” one SNP MP could be heard to say, as other laughed and jeered.

Tommy Sheppard, the MP who had been speaking before Evans’s surprising intervention, replied: “I do appreciate the political skill of improvisation but sometimes it’s not just enough to make it up as you go along.”

“What has just been said is completely at variance with what your party said during the election,” he added.

Indeed, and completely at variance with the lengthy oration which Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross would later give on the state of maternity services in Moray. The fact it was a debate on indyref2 and democracy seemed to have been overlooked.