DOUGLAS Ross has insisted that his U-turn on calling for the Prime Minister to resign is not the reason his party was hammered at the local elections.

The Scottish Tory leader said he didn’t think that if he stuck with his original position in calling for Boris Johnson to go that the result of the Scottish council elections would have changed.

Ross was answering questions from journalists on Saturday morning after his party lost 63 seats across local authorities in Scotland, being pushed into third place by Labour.

The result prompted reports that some MSPs are unhappy with Ross’s leadership, with one telling the Daily Record he has “lost all credibility”.

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Ross blamed much of the Scottish election result on his boss, saying partygate had cost the Conservatives north of the Border. He said the issue was often brought up on doorsteps along the campaign trail.

Asked by The National whether his U-turn affected the election result, the Scottish Tory leader said: “I don’t think it would have changed the result.

“I don’t think if I had not changed my position, in light of the atrocious conflict in Ukraine, it would have changed the situation because voters I was speaking to were unhappy with the Prime Minister and unhappy with partygate.

“Had I maintained my position despite the war in Europe, those voters would still have been unhappy with partygate, and still unhappy with the Prime Minister, because he remains in post.

“And that's why I'm saying we have to look at what people were seeing in this election by not turning out and by the Prime Minister and those around him, we'll also be looking at what voters right across the United Kingdom have said.”

Asked by The National whether the Scottish Tories can get back into second place with Johnson in power, Ross stressed that his party was beaten by Anas Sarwar's party by a small margin in first preference votes.

He said: “We are, once all the first preferences have been counted, two percentage points behind Labour in third place.

“I absolutely wanted to maintain second place at these vital local elections. We were coming from a very high base in 2017.Labour were actually coming from one of their worst results in 2017.

“And we are just within two points on the vote share of getting back into second place. So it's absolutely doable that we can listen to those voters of ours who decided to take part in protests this time, take on board their concerns, work with them and work hard over the next few weeks and months and years to regain their trust.

“And, of course, they will continue to see in Holyrood, in the Scottish Parliament that we are the main opposition, we are the party that stands up to the SNP we can make out.”

Ross warned that Scottish Labour was likely to “betray Unionist” voters by going into coalitions with SNP following their election result, which saw them rise to second place, adding another 20 councillors across Scotland.

“There’s a big challenge now for Labour,” he said, “Because Anas Sarwar promised voters that his party would not enter into any coalition or any deals with the SNP.

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“And we're already hearing on the ground, that that may not be the case locally.

“So I warn people before the election and I am worried now, that Labour will betray these Unionist voters and do deals with the SNP to put them into power when the Scottish Conservative said we never would.

“So I absolutely think we are very close to regaining sacred place because we're just that two percentage points buying labour after what has been a difficult election.

“The worst time I can remember trying to encourage people out to vote we are within just two points a weaver in between second and third place.”