The National:

TORY politicians have been downplaying Boris Johnson's parties ahead of the publication of the Sue Gray report, with one saying he's not robbed a bank and another saying the PM was "ambushed with cake" at his birthday party during lockdown.

But perhaps the strangest one yet has come from Murdo Fraser who has compared the situation to Nicola Sturgeon's evidence for the Alex Salmond inquiry.

"The charges against Mr Johnson are that he is a hypocrite, with one rule for himself and his staff and another for the public. That he misled the public and, if found guilty of misleading Parliament, he must resign," he wrote in his column for The Scotsman.

Fraser then says he has called for the Prime Minister to resign but none of the Scottish Tories have signed a motion – which has been backed by the LidDems, Labour and SNP – calling for Johnson to resign over the parties.

He added: "I have made my views on the Prime Minister’s future known, in that I believe that he should step down for the good of the country. But I also think that we can make a start in the process of applying the principles of Westminster to Holyrood, because we in Edinburgh are already ahead of the game.

"It was less than a year ago that our First Minister was found guilty of misleading the Scottish Parliament by a vote of the committee investigating the handling of harassment complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond. She didn’t resign.

"The truth appears to have had to be dragged out of Mr Johnson at times. Not so Ms Sturgeon. When she gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament committee, she just said she could not remember – at least 50 times."

READ MORE: Ousting Boris Johnson will trigger General Election, Jacob Rees-Mogg says

Fraser neglects to mention Johnson's claims that he didn't know he was breaking the rules his own government set. When the first allegations broke about the Downing Sreet parties, he said: “All guidance was followed completely in No 10.” Questioned repeatedly by reporters, his press secretary said she did not “recognise the reports” of Christmas parties in No 10.

And in a TV interview last week, the Prime Minister insisted: “Nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules, that the event in question was something – that we were going to do something that wasn’t a work event.”

Fraser went on: "Mr Johnson’s plight has been made worse by MPs and MSPs from his own party – me included – calling on him to resign. That again, I believe, is a sign of a healthy democracy. Yet can anyone remember any time when an elected politician in the SNP criticised their own leadership?"

Is Fraser forgetting that when former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier broke Covid rules, she was immediately suspended from her party? 

He continued: "Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP take hypocrisy to new levels when they claim that the standards they live by are somehow higher than those at Westminster, when the opposite is too often true.

"I can understand the tactic to try and build support for separation by claiming moral superiority over Westminster. If I were an independence supporter without a credible economic case, and no ideas as to how to fill the black hole in the public finances that would be caused by the loss of fiscal transfers from south of the Border, I would probably be doing the same.

"In the poll commissioned by this newspaper and published last Friday, there is still no majority support for independence despite four out of five Scots believing that Boris Johnson should resign."

But a poll by Savanta ComRes last week put support for Scotland leaving the Union up two points since October.

The new poll says 46% of Scots would back independence at a future indyref, with the same percentage indicating support for staying in the Union. Some 8% were undecided. With those don’t knows excluded, the two campaigns sit on 50/50.

READ MORE: Pollster records increased independence support amid Westminster chaos

A majority of Savanta ComRes respondents also believed that the Downing Street gatherings have damaged the Union, with 54% agreeing with this statement. 

Fraser concluded: "It looks like the Scottish people are reaching their own conclusions here. There is more than a speck of wrongdoing at Westminster, that is true. But it is hypocrisy which cannot be tolerated for the SNP to spot it in their neighbour’s eye, and gleefully hit it with the plank in their own."

It seems Fraser's attempt at deflection has fallen flat...