DOUGLAS Ross has made an astonishing personal attack on Pete Wishart calling him "inept" and "poor at his job" in a intensely heated exchange in the Commons.

The Scottish Tory leader launched a verbal assault on Wishart, who chairs the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, highly criticising how he convenes the cross-party group at Westminster.

Wishart had opened the committee earlier – the first one to be held since last Thursday's election – pressing Scottish Secretary Alister Jack on the outcome. The question appeared to annoy Ross and other Tory MPs on the committee.

Conservative MP John Lamont said: "People watching this at home will find it extraordinary that the SNP chairman of this committee has spent over 20 minutes talking about another independence referendum when there are so many other things that are pressing, like how for example we are managing Covid, how we are managing the vaccine programme, how we are dealing with the economic recovery plan.

"The last 20 minutes could have been much better spent."

When it came to Ross's turn to ask a question to Jack, he decided instead to tackle Wishart.

The National:

"I have to say at the outset how disappointed people must have been to watch the quite frankly inept and poor chairing of this committee so far by Mr Wishart," said Ross.

"And I think people will understand why members of his own party..."

READ MORE: SNP MP forces Alister Jack to concede Tories lost Holyrood election

An outraged Wishart interjected: "Listen Douglas, excuse me Douglas Ross. There is no need at all to make attacks on the chair of this committee.

"I have been elected by the House to chair this committee. Could you please get on with addressing your questions."

Ross then said: "I've picked a nerve on the sensitive chair of this committee."

Wishart hit back: "It's not, I'm just trying to get on with my job without any personal attacks like that. Please get on with your questions."

But Ross refused to back down.

"When you are so poor at your job I will personally attack you," he said.

Wishart said: "This is absolutely pathetic. Will you please just get on with your questions without making any sort of erroneous attacks on the chair."

Ross said: "Well it's not erroneous if you are poor and inept and the fact that you won't allow me to put that on the record..."

Wishart again told him to ask his questions with Ross saying the chair's approach showed "the SNP don't like to be criticised."

Earlier, Jack was earlier forced to concede the Tories lost the Holyrood election as he was pressed on the result of last week's poll.

The Scottish Secretary was giving evidence to MPs this morning when Wishart opened the session asking him to explain the outcome of the election.

The SNP won the election by a landslide, winning 64 seats allowing them to return to power in Edinburgh for a record fourth consecutive term. 

The Scottish Conservatives came second on 31 seats, while Labour picked up 22, the Greens eight and Lib Dems four.

However, the political spin coming from the Tories in recent days has sought to emphasise the apparent success of their party despite losing significantly to the SNP.

READ MORE: Michael Gove claims Scots congratulated him on the street after election

Wishart pressed the UK Cabinet minister: "There does seem to be a little bit of confusion about who actually won.

"There have been a number of competing statements on that over the past few days. Can you tell us who actually won the election a week ago today?"

Jack replied: "I am very happy to congratulate Nicola Sturgeon on her re-election as First Minister that is beyond doubt, so yes absolutely I congratulate her on that. 

"But I also, a member of your committee Douglas Ross, congratulate him on retaining the same tally of seats that Ruth Davidson achieved in 2016."

Wishart said the outcome of the election was "a overwhelming and decisive result" with the SNP winning a record number of constituency seats – 62 – on a higher percentage share of the vote.

He added: "Had this been a Westminster election the Scottish National Party would have won 552 seats with a majority of 454 but it was also a victory for parties of pro-independence and pro-referendums where an independence referendum was at the heart and core of their manifestos.

"So how will the UK Government respond to the request to hold an independence referendum when the pandemic is considered to have passed?"

Jack replied that he "would put some other statistics back" to Wishart and insisted that while an independence referendum was one of "many things" in the SNP's manifesto not everyone who voted for the party wanted one.

He pointed to a BBC debate where the First Minister was asked how a voter should vote if he or she backed her for other reasons but did not want indyref2 saying she said the voter should back her party anyway.

"I would say less than a third of the electorate voted for nationalist parties, I think the figure was 31% and I would say that very little has changed since 2016 when you look at the numbers despite in that time we've had Brexit, we've had two general elections, we've had the Covid pandemic...but when you look at the overall numbers the changes are very very minor," said Jack.

The exchanges took place at the Commons's Scottish Affairs Select committee, with Jack giving evidence remotely.

Wishart is the SNP longest serving MP.