DOUGLAS Ross admitted that the Scottish Tories have seen a "very disappointing" result in Scotland's council elections.

The branch office of Boris Johnson's party suffered in the poll, losing key seats and seeing their share of the vote drop by double-digits in a number of wards.

Ross called on the Prime Minister not to ignore the message sent by voters.

Being interviewed on BBC News, he said: “Well, it’s been a difficult night and the results coming in today are very disappointing.

READ MORE: Scottish local elections 2022: Follow live results and updates

“We’ve got some areas where it’s very good. Here in Moray we recorded our best-ever result – more councillors than ever before, every one of our candidates elected – and the SNP went backwards in neighbouring Aberdeenshire.

“We’re making gains but in too many parts of Scotland we have lost excellent candidates and councillors haven’t been re-elected because it seems many of our supporters decided to sit this one out to protest and not cast their vote and we’ve lost out as a result of that.”

His language echoed that of Baroness Ruth Davidson, who had been wheeled out front and centre by the Tories in the closing days of the campaign amid a string of poor polls.

She also pointed the finger at Westminster.

The Baroness tweeted: “Undoubtedly a disappointing set of results for @ScotTories (and I'm personally gutted to see some great councillors and candidates like @Mr_Mark_Brown miss out). But a bit of context required – this is against a 40 odd year high watermark in 2017.

“There's still results coming in and @ScotTories have already breached the 200 mark – for comparison, we went into the 2017 elex with 112. There were also some real pockets of light, like N Ayrshire where we added significantly to our group.

“In terms of questions of leadership, I know what it's like to lose seats at my first local election, before coming back stronger. The Scottish party needs to pull together around @Douglas4Moray leadership. Just 12 months go [sic] he led @ScotTories to its best ever Holyrood result.

“Those noises off firing arrows at @Douglas4Moray need to explain how, for example, we managed to lose councils like Southampton, Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnett, beyond his writ. It's *almost* as if there's a wider UK narrative at play.... [ends]”

During his appearance on BBC News, presenter Huw Edwards pressed Ross on whether partygate and the cost of living crisis had an impact.

The Scottish Tory replied: “It was certainly the partygate issue that dominated the discussions I had with voters who were reluctant to come out and support us as they have in the past.

READ MORE: LIVE Scottish local council elections tracker: Maps and charts show results so far

“In 2015, we had a record result here in Scotland. We were coming into these elections in Scotland on the back of a very strong set of results five years ago, but there’s absolutely no doubt that people have sent a message to the Prime Minister and the Government, particularly around partygate.

“That’s what came out loud and clear.”

Ross was then asked whether the cost of living crisis was brought up by voters as a reason not to vote Conservative.

He said: “This is a thing people are experiencing, be it in their domestic heating bills or when they go to fill their car.

“I represent a very rural area here in Moray, and across the Highlands and Islands, people rely on their cars.

“It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity. And they are seeing a real increase in the cost of living and the cost of energy.

“And I believe that the Chancellor and the Government have made some attempts to deal with that, but clearly more must be done and I think the Government accept that as well.”

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Presenter Vicki Young asked Ross whether he was saying Johnson should lead the party into the next General Election, having previously said the Prime Minister should not stand down amid the war in Ukraine.

“I hope that that conflict doesn’t go on for months and years but we’ve got to be realistic.

“We’re at a crucial stage, we know that in the next few days the Russians want to claim victory in their annual victory day, and we’ve got to do everything possible to support President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine who have been able to defend their country for far longer than any of us expected.

“However, the Prime Minister simply can’t ignore the message that has been sent from voters not just here in Scotland, but across the UK.

“Obviously the Conservatives lost Westminster Council last night – that’s a council that even in the peak Labour years, under Tony Blair, the party held on to, so there’s been a very strong message from the public to the Prime Minister and the party.”