DOUGLAS Ross has refused to back any candidate for Conservative leader saying he will “work with whoever” takes over from Boris Johnson.

The Scottish Conservative leader, who called for Johnson to go in the final days of his premiership, said he did not feel it appropriate to reveal who he was supporting - if anyone - in the race.

He told STV News: “I decided to, you know, completely stay out of the race in terms of endorsing any particular candidate.

“As the leader of the party in Scotland, you know, it’s incumbent on me to work with whoever is elected as leader and the next prime minister and I think the best way to do that is working with whoever is elected after September 5 and not coming out and declaring for either of the candidates.”

One ballot was spoiled in the final count among MPs, which saw Penny Mordaunt drop out of the race, but Ross told the broadcaster he was “voting… in all stages”.

The SNP have accused Ross of "cowardice" and demanded he reveals which candidate he is backing. 

He added: “I’ve kept that decision to myself because I think it’s right that whoever is the next leader and the next Prime Minister will have my full support in Scotland as we continue to take the fight to the SNP, highlight their failings in Scotland and what the UK Government can do right across the country.”

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Michelle Thomson, the SNP MSP for Falkirk East, said the current frontrunne Liz Truss was “known” in Westminster for “not being focused on delivery” – something backed by former top advisor Dominic Cumming, who branded her the “human hand grenade” for her reported lack of ability.

In contrast, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who won most votes among MPs but is less popular among party members, “wants to turn the UK into Singapore” by deregulating the economy and slashing workers’ rights, she said.

“Some people would say, for the nationalist quarter, we want the person who will alienate Scots the most because that will further our ambitions,” the former MP added.

“But at the same time, there’s a personal and human cost to that. People across Scotland and the rest of the UK are really, really struggling.”

Ross, she said, would “take what he’s given”, adding: “He’ll just need to suck up to whichever of the two of the lightweights are presented to him”.

Truss, who lived in Paisley, Renfrewshire, for some of her childhood, has claimed “probably some Scots love” her.

She has the backing of Tory MSP Oliver Mundell but most Scottish Conservatives are staying neutral or keeping quiet.

Alister Jack has not come out in favour of either of his Cabinet colleagues but former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson as well as Aberdeenshire MP Andrew Bowie are rooting for Sunak.

The SNP have blasted the contest as demonstrating how “arrogant and out of touch” Westminster is.

Paul McLennan, MSP for East Lothian said: “As an MP, Ross voted in the five previous rounds before now so his refusal to declare his choice is untenable. In the interests of openness and transparency, he must say who he voted for at each stage."

Ross came under fire for switching his position on the question of whether Johnson should resign over various scandals, finally calling for the Prime Minister to go as it seemed certain he would step down as leader.

Ross is the only MSP with a vote in the earlier stages of the competition because he also sits as the MP for Moray. 

And he will make a return to football in his capacity as a linesman on Saturday at the Elgin City versus Queen of the South match.