DOUGLAS Ross has “rendered himself ridiculous” by backtracking on his call for the Prime Minister to resign, Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.

During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday – the first since Boris Johnson was fined by Met Police for attending a birthday bash in Downing Street in June 2020 – Sturgeon slated Ross for changing his position on key issues.

The Scottish Tory leader originally said Johnson should quit when pictures emerged of him attending gatherings while the public were following strict coronavirus laws. But he now says his boss should stay put because of the war in Ukraine.

Sturgeon's scathing attack came during a debate about SNP plans to introduce a tax on people driving into Edinburgh and Glasgow, with councils set to launch a public consultation. 

Ross asked the SNP leader whether she supported the plans. She replied while it was right to support those who need to use roads, she acknowledged everyone has a responsibility to make sure the country transfers to net-zero emissions.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford 'feels sorry' for Douglas Ross over PM support

Ross then told the chamber: “So the FM says she wants to support those who use our roads, and her answer, tax them more, because the SNP government brought in the workplace parking tax and the SNP group in Edinburgh has charged ahead with plans to introduce it.

“Plans that would hit anyone who needs their car to get into work in the city. And now in their local manifesto, they included plans to charge vehicles just to come into the capital.

“It’s a commuter tax on people all over the country who travel to work in Edinburgh, to visit family or friends, or to use vital services. The Scottish Conservatives are completely opposed to this proposal so why are the SNP intent on making driving in our cities unaffordable?”

Sturgeon replied by mocking Ross’ apparent fickleness over empowering councils and hinted at his support for the Prime Minister.

She said: “I think perhaps, on many issues, Douglas Ross needs to decide what his position actually is and avoid rendering himself ridiculous by having contradictory and inconsistent positions.

“Talking of manifestos, let me quote the Tory local government manifesto from 2017, which says ‘we need to empower councils and give them a renewed sense of meaning and purpose’. I can hear Douglas Ross say that’s not up to date enough so let me quote the Tory manifesto from this time last year and again I am quoting ‘councils should be encouraged to make more low traffic neighbourhoods’.

“So on the one hand Douglas Ross wants to empower local councils and then he stands there and says I should rule out the ability of local councils to decide on things that could help us with that transition to net-zero while supporting travel patterns across the country. Not for the first time, Douglas Ross’ position is bordering on ridiculous.”

Ross hit back, calling Sturgeon’s answer “dismal” and outlined how the Federation of Small Businesses had said the “commuter tax” would hit tradespeople coming from the likes of the Lothians and Borders hard and urged councils to avoid additional costs for business.

Sturgeon responded: “I think everyone across the country knows we will face some really tough decisions in the years to come about how we heat our homes and how we travel around so we can make that transition to net-zero but have a transport system that still supports our economy and the public.

“It’s easy for the Tories to reduce these challenging decisions in the simplistic way they have, but the rest of us know these decisions have to be faced.

“This is about empowering local councils to arrive at decisions. We as a government continue to support the transport system across the country. We have invested in excess of £9.5 billion in managing, maintaining and improving trunk roads and our motorway network.

“We will continue to take the tough decisions. That’s serious government as opposed to ridiculous opposition.”

SNP MSP Paul McLennan further accused the Tories of "rank hypocrisy" over their opposition to encouraging commuters to use public transport instead of their car.

He said: “We are not even a year from the Scottish Parliament elections and the Tories are breaking their manifesto commitments and displaying rank hypocrisy in their opposition to encouraging commuters to use green options to get to work.

“This is more opposition for opposition’s sake as the Tories seem to only be opposing this measure because it is being introduced by the Scottish Government.

“It is time for the Tories to get real on the challenges we face in tackling the climate emergency, which requires action to change the behaviour and choices of people travelling into cities."