DOUGLAS Ross was forced to apologise for calling the First Minister “Honest John” in a fiery clash over the SNP’s stance on oil and gas.

The Scottish Tory leader said the SNP were not being “honest” about what he said was their opposition to new oil and gas licences – but was accused of being uninterested in the climate crisis.

John Swinney blasted Ross for his “reckless” approach to the climate emergency as he accused the Tories of “climate denial of the first order”.

In a punchy First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone (below) ordered Ross to apologise for heckling Swinney from his seat.

Ross said: “I apologise again for calling the First Minister ‘Honest John’.”

Swinney hit back at the outgoing Scottish Tory leader, who will step down from the position after the election, saying Ross was not “in a particularly strong position” to criticise the honesty of others.

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The First Minister referenced the ongoing investigation into Ross’s Tory colleagues over alleged gambling offences amid a growing scandal about bets being placed on the date of the election.

Ross’s attacks on the SNP’s stance on oil and gas comes as the Scottish Tories attempt to shore up their support in the north east of Scotland – amid an expected electoral wipeout across the UK.

Swinney said the SNP were not opposed to new oil and gas licences being granted but wanted them to be scrutinised and subject to climate tests.

Ross claimed this amounted to total opposition to new licences being granted, which he said risked jobs and investment in Scotland.

The Scottish Tory leader said highlighted previous criticisms of new licences being granted for the Rosebank and Cambo fields from Swinney’s predecessors Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf.

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Ross also highlighted the First Minister’s recent comments saying that the UK Government was “utterly irresponsible” for granting new licences.

Swinney hit back, saying his “very specific” comments had been in opposition to Rishi Sunak (below) granting 100 new oil and gas licences “without any scrutiny”, which he said was “utterly and totally reckless”.

He added: “We’ve got a rational and considered process that we’ve argued for, which is that we should have, that every individual application should be subject to a climate compatibility assessment because there is a journey that we have to make as a country to reach net zero.

“That is inescapable and what is clear from the position taken by the Prime Minister, supported by Douglas Ross and the Conservatives is that they don’t care about the journey on climate.

"They’re not interested in the crisis that we face and the climate emergency.”