SENIOR Scottish Tory Stephen Kerr has been slammed for refusing to deny plans that his party will urge voters to back Labour in certain seats to oust the SNP.

The Central Scotland MSP was quizzed about reports that the Tories will urge their supporters to vote Labour in key constituencies to “end nationalist dominance” in Scotland, during an interview on the BBC.

Repeatedly asked about the claims made in the Sunday Times, Kerr refused to answer on three occasions if the allegations were true, dodging the question. He did, however, say he was “not aware” of any discussions between the Tories and Labour over the plans.

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SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn blasted the exchange and said it was a “struggle to spot the difference” between Labour and the Tories.

A Tory insider told The Sunday Times that the party are intending to undertake an unprecedented exercise in tactical voting, with the Tories inviting rivals to co-operate in a “vote smart” strategy to boost unionist Tory support in rural areas, while lending Labour support in the central belt and urban areas.

The source said the party had identified an “opportunity to end nationalist dominance” and make the SNP “pay” for ignoring Scottish priorities.

“But that requires Scots to vote smart to maximise tactical voting. That means putting normal party politics to one side and voting for the candidate most likely to beat the SNP,” a Tory source told The Times.

The National: Kerr was repeatedly asked if the reports were true but he dodged answeringKerr was repeatedly asked if the reports were true but he dodged answering (Image: BBC)

“That means, for example, Conservative voters in Glasgow backing Labour, while Labour voters in Aberdeenshire vote for the Conservatives.”

Interviewed on the BBC Sunday Show by journalist Martin Geissler, Kerr was asked if the newspaper reports were true.

“I think it would be wrong to underestimate the sophistication of the Scottish electorate,” he said. “I think they know exactly what they want. They know exactly how to vote.”

Asked if the Tories would try to manipulate the Unionist vote, Kerr said he was "absolutely not interested in the word manipulation in any of its forms.”

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Kerr was then asked twice if the reports were correct. In the first reply, he said “mediocrity” from the past few years would not cut it. The second time he was asked he said the issue was about the “priorities of the people of Scotland”.

He said: “The people of Scotland have their priorities. The Conservative Party is committed to delivering those priorities, and when it comes to voting, I think they'll know how to vote to get rid of this Nationalist government.”

Asked if the Labour party were on board with the plans, Kerr said he was “not aware” of any discussions held.

And, asked what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak might make of the plans, with the Tories on course to lose scores of seats at the next General Election, Kerr said the PM was “committed to putting the country first”.

The National: Flynn said it was a 'struggle' to spot the difference between the Tories and LabourFlynn said it was a 'struggle' to spot the difference between the Tories and Labour (Image: PA)

Kerr added: “I don't know about what the Prime Minister knows and doesn't know because I've not been involved in the discussions about what you're reading on the front page of The Sunday Times.

“All I know is as a Conservative, in my DNA, I want to do the right thing for my country.”

SNP Westminster group leader Flynn said that it was not a surprise the “dreadful better together band [are] announcing their reunion”.

“A band that made endless empty promises to people across Scotland because they couldn't muster a positive case for the broken union,” he said, following Kerr’s interview on the BBC.

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“The disastrous duo have been standing shoulder to shoulder in councils and in Holyrood ever since but, be in no doubt, people will not be fooled by this latest effort.”

Flynn said neither Labour nor the Tories are “even pretending to care about Scotland's interests anymore”.

He added: “Quite frankly, it’s a struggle to spot the difference between the Tories and Labour - the pro-Brexit, pro-cuts, anti-Scottish democracy Labour Party is a pale imitation of the right-wing Tories.

“Scotland deserves far better than either of the Westminster parties' contempt of ignoring our interests at every turn - the SNP will always champion Scotland’s voice and seek to build a fairer, more prosperous future as an independent country, free from Westminster control for good.”