A FORMER Scottish Tory frontbencher has offered proof of just how out of touch the party is, according to the SNP president.

Writing in The Herald, Adam Tomkins offered a serious warning to Douglas Ross, advising him that the party is in “terminal decline” due to his support of Boris Johnson.

The former Glasgow MSP and shadow cabinet member from 2016 to 2020 branded the Scottish Tories Ross’s “forlorn troops” who have “reduced themselves” in defence of the Prime Minister’s law-breaking.

On Tuesday, Johnson issued an apology to the House of Commons after it emerged he had received a fixed penalty notice for a gathering held in Downing Street in 2020 in breach of Covid rules.

It was one of a number of gatherings that Johnson was confirmed to have attended while Covid rules were in place, and speculation has grown that further fines may be issued by the Met Police in the coming days and weeks.

In January, when Johnson admitted to attending one lockdown-breaching gathering after the partygate saga exploded, Ross called for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

Public fury grew as it was confirmed that police were investigating 12 gatherings held across Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown – and the Moray MP said Johnson could not continue in his role.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross: Boris Johnson defence may have given Scottish Tory leader his worst day ever

“I don't want to be in this position. I am in the position now where I don't think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives,” Ross told the media.

But days before the Scottish Tory conference in March, Ross withdrew his letter to the 1922 Committee demanding Johnson step down – saying Ukraine was more important.

"It's essential that we all fully support what the UK Government is doing,” Ross said in the U-turn.

“In light of Russia's appalling actions, the Government and Prime Minister need our backing, and they have mine and the whole Scottish Conservative party."

The MP was heavily criticised for the move – with the LibDems saying Ross “had the backbone of a jellyfish”, and Ian Blackford calling his change of mind “utterly humiliating”.

After fines were issued to Johnson and his Chancellor – on top of the more than 50 issued by police for Westminster parties – Ross continued to offer his support for the Prime Minister.

Johnson is already a deeply unpopular figure in Scotland, with his approval ratings north of the Border consistently below -60. With the local elections coming up, voters across the country may well have partygate and Johnson in mind when casting their votes.

The National:

In a column, Tomkins (above) expressed his concerns over Ross’s “risible” defence of Johnson, and said his party is now in the “sorry position” of defending the Prime Minister – “a fool and a clown who must be shown the door”.

“Douglas Ross and his forlorn troops have now reduced themselves — and made their former position of principle look not only empty but risible — by insisting that the Prime Minister is now somehow fit for office and that being fined by the police makes no difference,” he wrote in the newspaper.

“I expect that the popular verdict on this pantomime of a performance will be every bit as withering as it deserves to be.”

He added that Scottish Labour will just need to sit still as they overtake the Tories, putting them in second place and making them the main opposition to the SNP.

“The Scottish Conservatives are in terminal decline, again. And, this time, it is their own fault,” Tomkins went on.

SNP president Michael Russell said the exchange would make Tomkins "less popular with his former Tory colleagues than the Archbishop of Canterbury", but pointed out that he is "right in what he says".

"He never seemed very happy when on the Tory Holyrood front bench, having to take up a position on things like Brexit with which he clearly disagreed," he told The National.

"Now that he is free to speak he is at last saying what he really believes, and which many others know to be true, namely that Ross is a pathetic excuse for a leader, that Johnson is a serial liar who is utterly unfit to be Prime Minister and that in denying those things the Tories are out of touch not just with much of their own support, but with the vast majority of decent Scots.

"I profoundly disagree with Adam’s political philosophy but on this occasion I think his words are both honest and courageous. However I doubt very much that they will be heeded."

The National:

Meanwhile, SNP MSP Karen Adam said Tomkins was "absolutely correct for a change".

"Douglas Ross's humiliating U-turn followed by his spineless defence of his lying boss has stripped the Scottish Tory leader of any remnant of integrity," the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP told The National.

“And of course, the entire Tory MSP group at Holyrood backed Douglas Ross in his demand that Boris Johnson quit - so they will be furious he has marched them up a hill and now left them all looking ridiculous. 

"The Tories’ weasel words that this isn’t the time to pursue lying and law-breaking in the highest office in the land insults the intelligence.

"Douglas Ross will find out at the council elections on May 5 exactly what the people of Scotland think of a Scottish Tory party that defends the indefensible behaviour of Boris Johnson."

Former MSP Tomkins has not been the only Scottish Tory speaking out against Johnson, despite the official party line.

Last week MSP for the South Scotland region Brian Whittle went against his leader to say the Tory chief should leave his role.

“Vladimir Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine has rightly been the focus of the UK Government in recent weeks,” he said in a statement. “However, the seriousness of the actions [of] Boris Johnson and others in Downing Street during lockdown hasn’t diminished.

“When news of the lockdown parties first emerged, I said that the Prime Minister should hold himself accountable and resign. My view on that hasn’t changed.

“Here in Scotland Boris Johnson’s actions have made it far too easy for the SNP and the Greens to conceal behind a mask of outrage their own failures in government, from the crisis in the NHS to the hundreds of millions wasted on botched ferry deals.

“Leadership without accountability is no leadership at all. Boris Johnson should step down and allow a leadership election to take place by the end of the summer so we can put this issue to rest and move on.”