SCOTLAND'S political leaders slammed Boris Johnson's "ludicrous" plan for a new £200 million royal yacht in the final TV election debate last night.

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green leader, called the proposal “an absurdity” while Nicola Sturgeon, Anas Sarwar and Willie Rennie all dismissed the idea.

Even Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative chief, distanced himself from it.

Ross said he would only support a new royal yacht, which the PM wants to be named HMS Prince Philip after the Duke of Edinburgh, if it were funded by private finance.

Sturgeon, the SNP leader, said: “The only reason Boris Johnson has been talking about this is to try to distract attention from the sleaze that is swirling around him and his government. Everybody should see through it and frankly it is one more reason why Boris Johnson should not be the guy making the decisions about the future of Scotland.”

The National:

The BBC hosted the final TV debate in the Holyrood 2021 election last night.

Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said the announcement was “clearly a cheap stunt and gimmick”.

Rennie, the Scottish LibDem leader, said the ship was a “ludicrous idea” and dismissed reports that it would safeguard jobs in Scottish shipyards.

He said: “It will never happen. It is one of Boris Johnson’s tricks to try to attract attention when we should be focussing on things that make a difference to people’s lives in Scotland.”

Harvie, the Scottish Green leader, said the plan was “an absurdity”.

He said: “The idea that you have families relying on food banks but the highest priority for the UK government is a royal yacht beggars belief.”

READ MORE: BBC Leaders' Debate: Nicola Sturgeon leaves Douglas Ross on the ropes

Whitehall is said to be arguing over whether the new ship was to be paid for by the Ministry of Defence or the Cabinet Office but Ross has suggested in the debate it will be paid for privately.

Asked about the plan in the BBC debate last night, Ross said he would “look to see what the private investment is going to be” before he offers his support for the yacht.

He said: “From what I understand this is about private investment and seeking private support to build this.”

Asked if it should come from public money, he said: “Absolutely not.”

The Sunday Telegraph at the weekend reported that the plan for the new royal yacht has the code name Project Leith, after the Edinburgh district where the original yacht is moored.