ATTACKS by Tory ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove on Douglas Ross have backfired spectacularly.

The SNP said the belittling of the Scottish Tory leader "made the case for independence" while a host of commentators suggested the "arrogant" remarks reflected the Conservative government's attitude towards Scotland.

Labour said the Tories were the "greatest threat to the Union".

READ MORE: Alister Jack fires back at Jacob Rees-Mogg over Douglas Ross in Tory civil war

Mogg described Ross as "not a big figure" in politics and in a later interview said he was a "lightweight" while praising Scottish Secretary Alister Jack - a man chosen by the PM for his role.

Rees-Mogg said that Jack, the Scottish Secretary, “is a big figure is very supportive of the Prime Minister”....“Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure.”

Meanwhile, Gove dismissed Ross as he was "up in Elgin", a reference to the Tory representing Moray at Westminster.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross 'has always been a lightweight', Jacob Rees-Mogg says

The verbal assaults were issued after the Scottish Conservative chief called for Boris Johnson to resign after he admitted attending a lockdown drinks event in the Number 10 garden in May 2020.

They were swiftly noted by SNP politicians and commentators.

Responding to Rees-Mogg's description of Ross as "a lightweight", which he made on BBC's Newsnight last night, the historian Simon Schama tweeted: "Quite an achievement for Mogg on @BBCNewsnight to turn an already massive crisis into a yet bigger one, involving the Union."

Ian Blackford, the SNP's Westminster leader, noted on Twitter last night: "By dismissing their Scottish branch office as a bunch of 'lightweights', the Tories are revealing their disdain for Scotland and making the case for independence.

The National:

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford pictured in the Commons.

"The Scottish Tories have rubber-stamped every damaging decision by Boris Johnson, and they're still looked down upon."

Referring to Mogg's dismissal of Ross and praise for Jack, Hugo Rifkind, the Times columnist and son of the former Tory cabinet minister Malcolm Rifkind, wrote on Twitter: "To be clear, he's saying that the Scottish Tory who matters is the one chosen in London."

SNP press chief Murray Foote tweeted: "And there you have it folks. The Tories’ Scottish branch office manager is put back into his tartan shortbread tin by a Beano character. Scotland, eat yir porridge and shut up."

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SNP strategist Ross Colquhoun responded: "Opponents of the Tories are used to this kind of arrogant disdain from Westminster Tories, but it's fascinating to see Tories in Scotland face it themselves."

Alex Massie, a columnist for The Times, wrote on Twitter: "The position Douglas Ross holds is significantly more important than the position Jacob Rees-Mogg holds. The latter's inability to see that is itself, of course, illustrative of a larger problem."

Commenting, SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsten Oswald MP said:

"By dismissing their Scottish branch office as a bunch of 'lightweights' and nobodies, the Tories are revealing their disdain for Scotland and making the case for independence.

"Not only is it deeply humiliating for Douglas Ross but it is a telling insight into the arrogant and dismissive attitude that the Tory government has towards Scotland as a whole. They are looking down their noses at us and making it clear just how little Scotland's views matter to them - just like they did over Brexit and Tory austerity cuts.

The National:

Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross visiting a whisky distillery.

"Scottish Tory MPs, including Douglas Ross, put Boris Johnson in power and like loyal stooges they have rubber-stamped every damaging decision, from Brexit to Universal Credit cuts, yet still they are belittled and brushed aside by their Westminster leaders. If this is what the Tories think of their own Scottish MPs - imagine what they think about the rest of us.

"As the UK government descends into another bitter Tory civil war, it's clearer than ever that Scotland needs to become an independent country, so we can determine our own future and escape the sleazy, corrupt and broken Westminster system for good."

READ MORE: Michael Gove belittles Douglas Ross with snide comment amid No 10 party row

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie also seized on Rees-Mogg's description of Ross as a "lightweight".

She said: “It’s all too clear that this out of touch and scandal-hit Tory party is falling into chaos and civil war.

“After years of weakening the fabric of the UK and tearing communities apart - it couldn’t be clearer they are

“Labour is committed to fighting for Scotland’s place in a renewed and reformed United Kingdom.

“Scotland is sick of Tory division, but we need to replace them, not just oppose them. Only Scottish Labour can do that.”

Politics expert Professor Sir John Curtice said Mogg's comments "are going to get repeated endlessly north of the border" by the Tories' opponents.

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He warned: "Given the difficulties the Conservatives are now in, they are at risk of beginning to implode themselves as a result of the internal fighting within the party."

Sir John, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, said the upcoming council elections north of the border could help explain why Tories in Scotland are speaking out against Johnson - with the overwhelming majority of MSPs having publicly backed Ross and his calls for the PM to quit.

The Strathclyde University elections expert said Scottish Conservative Party "knows it is on a sticky wicket" with the local elections in May.

While he said the Tories will "not want to be fighting those elections against a backdrop of a party that has lost its popularity", he added: "That at the moment is the prospect that faces it.

"Which perhaps helps to explain why Tory MSPs have been the first out of the hatch to say that the Prime Minister should go."

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives insisted the party has "nothing to say about Rees-Mogg", but former MSP Adam Tomkins insisted he was "wrong" to brand Ross a "lightweight" - describing it as "very rude and dismissive".

Professor Tomkins added there is now some "serious thinking" that needs to be done in Scotland about the links between the party on either side of the border.

Prof Tomkins told Good Morning Scotland: "There's a 'Save Boris' operation going on at the moment, which you would expect Jacob Rees-Mogg to be... at the head of. That explains why Jacob Rees-Mogg was very rude and dismissive about Douglas yesterday.

"Jacob's got this wrong - I don't agree with anything that Jacob said about this matter.

"Douglas is a man of principle and a man of steel, and he will lead the Scottish Conservatives in the direction he thinks he needs to lead them in order to secure that credible fighting voice for centre-right ideas in Scottish politics."

Prof Tomkins, who quit Holyrood last year but remains a major figure in the Scottish Conservatives, hinted at a growing schism between the Tory party at Holyrood and Westminster and a possible shift in their relationship.

"I think there will always be ties but I think that Douglas and his team need to do some deep and serious thinking about exactly what the nature of those ties should be," he said.

"All of the bad days the Scottish Tories have in Holyrood are not caused by the Scottish Tories in Holyrood, they are caused by events 400 miles south. And they need to reflect on that.

"The Scottish Conservative Party have a range of really important, substantive ideas to bring to the table in Scotland about economic policy and about social policy, and they are being drowned out because of the pantomime of the politics of Boris Johnson."