Scottish Tory leader issues damning warning to PM as Nicola Sturgeon’s support grows

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Speaking to ITV News on Monday, Douglas Ross warned the Prime Minister’s concerning ratings in Scotland should be addressed, as he claimed Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalists would be the only ones winning from ignoring current polls. He said: “Most objective people would say that she is a better communicator than the Prime Minister but that doesn’t mean she’s had a better pandemic.”

Asked whether Boris Johnson was being “harmful” to the case for Scotland to stay in the UK, Mr Ross said: “We can’t say that the people of Scotland are absolutely wrong with their ratings on various leaders.

“We’ve got to reflect on that and the Prime Minister has got to reflect on it.

“He gets his opinion polls as well. He’s not blind to opinion in Scotland.”

He added: “You cannot get away from the current figures but what you can do is you can look at them, you can address the issues behind them and you say to the people of Scotland you take note of this.

“You take note of their concerns, you take note of the issues they’re raising.

“Because if we don’t, if we just ignore it and we say it’s not relevant or we don’t believe it, the only people that win are the nationalists.”

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon as called for “urgent” clarity on further extension of the furlough scheme if a second lockdown becomes necessary in Scotland.

The First Minister spoke after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick appeared to contradict comments made earlier by the Prime Minister.

Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday morning, Mr Jenrick was asked what would happen with the scheme if Scotland went into lockdown beyond December 2.

He said: “That’s a decision the Chancellor will have to make at the time.”

The Prime Minister previously said the scheme is “available” to parts of the UK if they implement measures which require it.

Responding to Mr Jenrick’s comment, the First Minister said: “We need clarity on this urgently today. I’m sorry to say that scotgov has no more detail now than we did before PM statement yesterday. Woolly words don’t pay people’s wages.”

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes also said she had written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the matter.

On the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “I see this morning that another Cabinet minister appears to have walked back on the Prime Minister’s commitment that furlough will be available to Scottish businesses.”

She added: “The problem is that this has been a theatrical shambles from the beginning, they could have given us an answer on Saturday night, when Scottish businesses were worried about what it would mean for them.

“They’ve dragged it out for two, now three days, with so many twists and turns, appeared to give answers and then appeared to walk back on them.”

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In his reply to a question from Douglas Ross on Monday, the Prime Minister said: “The furlough is a UK-wide scheme.

“If other parts of the UK decide to go into measures which require the furlough scheme then of course it’s available to them, that has to be right and that applies not just now but of course in the future as well.”

Mr Ross later said this was a welcome commitment from Mr Johnson.

He said: “The Scottish Conservatives argued strongly that this cast-iron guarantee was an absolute must and it’s great news that it has been given.

“We now know that Scottish jobs will be protected by the UK Government furlough scheme, as they have throughout this pandemic, in the event of a second lockdown.

“The Prime Minister has made that clear guarantee and it’s very positive news for those Scottish jobs that might be under threat in the event of another lockdown.”

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