Douglas Ross’ vote against Boris Johnson remaining in office was “completely consistent” with the position he took initially on the issue, it has been claimed.
On Monday evening, 148 Conservative MPs voted to express their lack of confidence in the Prime Minister.
But, Johnson hailed it as a “convincing, decisive” result, after winning the backing of 211 of his MPs to remain at Number 10.
In January, Ross became one of the first senior Conservative figures to call for the Prime Minister to resign after reports emerged of illegal gatherings held during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
And he submitted a letter to the 1922 Committee, having described Johnson’s position as “untenable”.
However, the Scottish Conservative leader withdrew his letter in March in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ross insisted that the issue should be paused whilst focus was on supporting the people of Ukraine.
In the vote held on Monday into Johnson’s leadership, Ross declared that having listened to his constituents and to people across Scotland, he would be voting against the Prime Minister.
Speaking on the BBC’S Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr defended Ross.
And he insisted that the Scottish Conservative leader “has principle”, whilst he urged Boris Johnson to reflect on the result.
“I think what we saw last night in the vote, 148 expressing their lack of confidence in the Prime Minister is simply a reflection of the deep anger that is felt across the country and particularly within the Conservative Party about the disclosures of the last few months,” said Kerr.
“And the Prime Minister now needs to reflect very carefully on this result.”
Kerr acknowledged that the scale of the votes against the Prime Minister are damaging to his premiership.
He said: “Clearly, it’s not a strong result for the Prime Minister and politically, undoubtedly, he is damaged.
“And he will now need to take time to reflect on the message that has I think very clearly been sent from this result.”
The Scottish Conservative chief whip described the issue of Johnson’s leadership as a “dark shadow” over the work being done by the party.
“It’s not good for the Conservative Party in general to be in this situation to have the leadership of the party as a shadow hanging over everything that the Government is trying to do,” he said.
“The Government is trying to do some very good and worthy things, and this whole issue of the Prime Minister’s leadership is like a dark shadow over all of the good things that the Government is doing.”
Kerr defended Ross and pointed to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who also put the notion of any attempts to remove Johnson from office on hold whilst the Ukraine crisis unfolded.
“Douglas has been consistent in terms of the principle that he set out,” said Kerr.
“He has been completely consistent with the principle. He made it clear from the outset that he had huge doubts about the conduct of the Prime Minister, he said that from the very beginning.
“It was only when circumstances changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine that he said, ‘Look, there are some things right now that we need to set aside, we’ll come back to them’.”
Kerr continued: “He wasn’t alone in this, Keir Starmer himself said the same thing.
“This was a moment when Russia invaded Ukraine and Kyiv was threatened, was a time for us to concentrate our efforts to support the Ukrainian people.
“And Douglas was clear on that.”
He added: “What he did yesterday in casting his vote the way he did was completely consistent with the position that he took initially, which has been his position throughout.
“This has always been a matter of timing, and the one thing I can assure you about Douglas Ross is he has principle, he is someone that actually feels very strongly about the matters of right and wrong.”