Tory row after Douglas Ross says Scots should vote Labour to oust SNP

Douglas Ross clashes with Nicola Sturgeon over IndyRef2

A row has broken out within the Conservative Party after MP Douglas Ross suggested supporters of the Tory party should vote Labour at the next election to oust the SNP. The leader of the Scottish Conservative Party said Tory voters should “do what is best for the country” and back the “strongest candidate to beat the SNP” in their constituency, even if this sees them vote for the Labour Party. But a Tory spokesperson hit back at the leader of the Scottish Tories, saying Mr Ross’ plan for tactical voting was “emphatically not the view of the Conservative Party”.

They urged Tories in Scotland to support the party’s MPs “wherever they are standing”.

Mr Ross said voters should prioritise removing SNP MPs in order to prevent another independence referendum, above the success of his own party.

He urged Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to “look a bit beyond their own narrow party agenda” in order to keep the UK together.

The MP for Moray told the Telegraph: “I will always encourage Scottish Conservative voters to vote Scottish Conservative.

“But I think generally the public can see, and they want the parties to accept, that where there is the strongest candidate to beat the SNP, you get behind that candidate.”

He said the current crisis in the SNP is an “opportunity” for Unionist parties to win back seats.

Dismissing his comments, a spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “This is emphatically not the view of the Conservative Party.

“We want people to vote for Conservative candidates wherever they are standing as that’s the best way to keep Labour and the SNP out.”

But Mr Ross yesterday denied he was encouraging Scottish voters to back Labour.

Grilled on the strategy on Sunday, Mr Ross denied he was asking Scots to vote Labour – emphasising that he wanted to encourage Labour and Lib Dem voters to back the Tories in rural Scotland.

He told GB News: “If people want to move on from the decade of division … the voting Scottish Conservative and that means in some places Liberal Democrats and Labour voters backing the Scottish Conservative candidate, then we can see the SNP lose their grip on power.”

But, speaking to the Telegraph, one Tory MP warned: “The problem is that electoral pacts with Labour don’t work. It’s always a one-way street.”

Earlier this week, the SNP was plunged into chaos after former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell was arrested.

Mr Murrell was arrested on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.

Police Scotland is currently investigating whether more than £600,000 earmarked for independence campaigning was diverted elsewhere in 2021.

There has been a heavy police presence outside the home Ms Sturgeon shares with her husband this week, as well as a major police presence at the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

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