The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has suggested that Tories should vote Labour in the next election, prompting fury from his party’s Westminster HQ.
Douglas Ross said people should “do what’s best for the country” and support the candidate most likely to beat the SNP in their constituency – and in many Scottish seats, it is likely to be Labour or even the Lib Dems who are the most serious threat to the Scottish nationalists.
Mr Ross said he wants to loosen the SNP’s grip on Scotland, adding that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer should also be looking “a bit beyond their own narrow party agenda” in favour of keeping the UK together.
He told The Sunday Telegraph: “The public know how to tactically vote in Scotland.
“I will always encourage Scottish Conservative voters to vote Scottish Conservatives, but I think generally the public can see and they want the parties to accept that where there is a strongest candidate to beat the SNP you get behind that candidate.
“If parties maybe look beyond their own narrow party agenda and do what’s best for the country and for me as Scottish Conservative leader what would be best is if we see this grip that the SNP have on Scotland at the moment is loosened.”
But a Tory spokesman in Westminster insisted that tactical voting was not the official position south of the border, saying: “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.”
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The news comes just weeks before the local elections, where Mr Sunak and his party are expected to lose more than 1,000 seats, according to a recent report in the Daily Mirror.
This would be a blow to the impression he is trying to give of a prime minister repairing the reputation of the Conservatives.