DOUGLAS Ross’s job could be put under pressure the longer Boris Johnson remains Prime Minister, Scottish Tory insiders have warned.

The Scottish Conservative leader called for Johnson to resign earlier this month after he admitted attending a drinks party in the Number 10 garden in May 2020 during the first coronavirus lockdown.

At Prime Minister’s Questions last week, the Tory chief faced more calls to quit, including from a former Cabinet minister and Brexit ally David Davis.

But Johnson has launched a fightback to remain in power, unveiling a series of “red meat” policies designed to win back support from Conservative backbenchers. They include a widespread lifting of Covid restrictions in England, using the Navy to turn back refugees in small boats on the Channel and plans for a two year freeze of the BBC licence fee.

After PMQs last Wednesday, Downing Street said Johnson would fight any no confidence vote brought by his backbenchers and that he planned to lead his party at the next General Election.

Should Johnson still be in power at the next General Election, Ross would be required to campaign for him to be re-elected as leader of a new Tory government at Westminster.

Political opponents would seize on this as a weakness in the Scottish Tory campaign, given Ross would be campaigning for someone he had called to resign.

“You’ve got to imagine that if Douglas had not taken the position he did and called for the PM to go, Douglas would now be in a worse position politically, “ said one Scottish Tory insider.

They insisted that the Scottish Tory leader had acted both on principle – as he had done too when he resigned over the failure of Johnson to sack his former aide Dominic Cummings when he drove to Barnard Castle “to test his eyes” during lockdown – and out of political expediency.

The insider said in the short term this was the right decision.

However, pressed what the impact on him could be for the longer term if the PM did not go, they said that situation would be harder.

“Right now it is an asset to Douglas’s position that he has called for him to go, but it becomes a problem if we go two or three years down the road and there is a general election.

“Then it becomes more of a problem. He made the right call now. In two or three years a new set or problems arise, but that is so far away who knows what the damage is by then.”

When presented with the longer term scenario of Johnson potentially holding on and the pressures that that would exert on Ross, another senior Scottish Tory exclaimed. “Well, there’s a thing.”

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But he went on: “I am sympathetic to Douglas’s position. To me Boris has let down the side. I never liked him anyway.”

But he added: “The party is trying to keep a distance from the goings on at Westminster in order to fight the council elections in May.”

Asked if he would be left in a difficult position if Johnson remains in post, Ross said last week: “Well, I think we’ve seen an awful lot of support for my position from MSP colleagues in Holyrood. I’ve spoken to council leaders, I’m speaking to members all the time.

“I’m not saying it’s universally 100% behind me because I understand people support the Prime Minister.

“They want him to get on with the job that we were all elected here to do just a couple of years ago, but I do believe our efforts are being hampered by some of the decisions he took and indeed some of the comments that he’s made to get through this period.

“I think what’s been perhaps the most damaging of all is the misleading statements that people can’t reconcile with the evidence you have in front of them.”

The National:

Former Tory leader Ruth Davidson (above), who now sits in the Lords, was a vocal critic of Johnson and leading opponent of Brexit.

She stood down as Scottish Conservative chief in August 2019 just weeks after Johnson was elected UK Tory leader and became PM.

Conservative sources at the time insisted her decision to leave the post had been building for several months, and was not a direct result of differences with Johnson.

Davidson has renewed her criticism of Johnson in the wake of Partygate, backing Ross’s call for the PM to go.

Last week she was asked whether the suggestion that now is not the time for Johnson to depart given the pandemic, Davidson said it would be “very difficult” to maintain that position.