DOUGLAS Ross told the Tory party conference that he has “no problem” bypassing the Scottish Government and giving money directly to councils.

The Scottish Tory leader claimed the SNP were “crying foul” over funding such as the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) going straight to local authorities.

However, the Scottish Government hit back and said the UK Government’s handling of the SPF was a “significant threat to the devolution settlement”.

Ross made the comments in a Q&A session after his speech at a fringe event at the Tory party conference on Sunday.

READ MORE: Malcolm Offord: Douglas Ross backs appointment of Tory donor

He said that Michael Gove and others in government were “very keen” to ensure any money that goes from the UK to Scotland is “fully audited so we know exactly where it’s spent”.

He said: “And if that money as we believe is not getting where it’s most needed then we need answers to that, and ensure that the money gets directly to the places who need it and will utilise it to the best ability, and that’s why I always think the SNP are crying foul here to say that the shared prosperity fund or some of these new funds shouldn’t go directly to councils.

“I’ve got no problem with bypassing the Scottish Government if that money is going directly into local communities who have been asking for years for funding from the Scottish Government and have been ignored.

“Scotland has two governments and the UK government is one that wants to invest directly in local areas.”

The National:

At one point, the live Twitter stream of Ross's speech only had 46 viewers

The SPF is a proposal to replace EU cash, but would be administered directly by Westminster to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish communities.

However, under EU funding programmes, the devolved governments were afforded control over how the cash was spent.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government’s handling of the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) is a significant threat to the devolution settlement.

“Devolution has improved people’s lives in Scotland and delivered governments they have chosen.

“The UK Government is now putting that at risk by deciding itself how money is spent in areas of devolved responsibility when it should be for the Scottish Government to set its own priorities.

READ MORE: Universal Credit: Douglas Ross defends £20 uplift cut on BBC

“The UK Government has consistently refused to engage with devolved administrations in any meaningful way or provide basic information about the SPF, despite the fact that it is due to start in April 2022.”

It comes as Ross claimed he would “stop nationalism for good” in his speech to the Tory conference.

The speech, which was live-streamed on social media, at one point only had 49 viewers on Twitter.

Ross told delegates at a Scottish Tories fringe event that: “It’s not good enough to stop an SNP majority. We have to stop nationalism for good.

“It’s a big challenge. It will take a party that knows, listens to and represents working Scotland.

“That was once the role of the Labour party. But no more.”

The National:

Ross made his speech at a fringe event, not on the main stage of the conference

He continued: “In May’s election, more working-class Scots voted Scottish Conservative than voted Labour.

“Never mind pandas in Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland has more Alba MPs than Labour MPs.

“We are the party of working-class unionists in Scotland now because we represent their values."

Ross mentioned independence seven times in his speech, and claimed it was a “minority pursuit” in Scotland.

He also claimed that Nicola Sturgeon “has turned the Scottish Government into a subsidy of Yes Scotland, an organisation staffed by loyalists, built to deliver independence”.

READ MORE: Justice Secretary Keith Brown sends strong message in wake of Sarah Everard murder

He added: “It’s not a government anymore. It’s a constitutional campaign group on stilts."

SNP MSP Neil Gray said: “Douglas Ross is desperately trying to be relevant, but his Tory bosses in London have relegated him to speaking at a fringe event.”

He added that Ross’s only plan is to “continue backing Boris Johnson’s harmful policies against Scotland’s will”, such as Brexit which led to a fuel crisis and empty shelves, as well as the “callous cuts” to Universal Credit.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said Mr Ross’s “desperate speech to the fringes of the Conservative Party conference would be amusing were it not so detached from reality”.