The National:

IF you needed confirmation that Douglas Ross doesn’t so much think for himself as repeat what his London bosses have told him, the Scottish Tory leader has handily provided.

It came after Rishi Sunak took to social media to promote the Tories’ new Brexit deal – made necessary by the omnishambles that was the Tories’ previous Brexit deal.

Patting himself on the back for having to sort out his own party’s mistakes, Sunak wrote: “We have protected Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.”

We’ll ignore the clear implication that it was endangered by Boris Johnson, as Sunak did.

READ MORE: 'New chapter' as UK and EU agree replacement for Boris Johnson's Brexit deal

He went on: “We’ve amended the legal text of the Protocol to ensure we can make critical VAT and excise changes for the whole of the UK.

“So our cuts to the cost of a pint in the pub will now apply in Northern Ireland too.”

Ross was apparently absolutely chuffed about this, and went to give his opinion as a statesman.

“Decisive action from the Prime Minister to protect Northern Ireland's place in our United Kingdom,” he wrote.

“This is a strong deal that will boost trade and help the UK economy.”

The only problem is, how could Ross have possibly known that it is a “strong” deal? Or that it will protect Northern Ireland’s place in the Union? Had he read it?

The answer, of course, is no. The deal was only published at the same moment as Ross praised it.

According to Christopher Hope, the Tories’ Brexiteer wing hadn’t even had foresight, so it seems vanishingly unlikely that anyone in No 10 bothered to give Ross a wee glimpse. Especially given that the first two government departments the Jouker asked for the published deal (international trade and the Foreign Office) had no idea when it would come out either.

The National:

When No 10 did finally published the 101 pages over 16 documents, it took Ross literally no time at all before tweeting his support of the deal. Both happened at 4.30pm.

But then, not reading Brexit deals seems to be something of a habit for the Conservatives. Boris Johnson didn’t even bother to read his own after all… 

And it’s worth bearing in mind that Ross has not exactly been consistent in his views (probably hard when your boss in London is always changing).

In September 2020 he said there were “obviously opportunities” to a No-Deal Brexit. Something Downing Street was also claiming at the time.

Then, in December 2020 he called No-Deal a “dreaded” outcome in a lengthy column in which he attacked the SNP for supposedly backing it. “Reckless and dangerous,” he called it then ...