THE Conservative Party have “emphatically” rejected Douglas Ross’s call for Tory voters to vote Labour at the next election if the candidate is best placed to beat the SNP.

The Scottish Conservative leader risked a split with Rishi Sunak as he said people should “do what’s best for the country” in a bid to oust the SNP from power.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Ross said: “The public know how to tactically vote in Scotland. I will always encourage Scottish Conservative voters to vote Scottish Conservatives, but I think generally the public can see and they want parties to accept that where there is a strongest candidate to beat the SNP you get behind that candidate.

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“If parties maybe look beyond their own narrow party agenda and do what’s best for the country and for me as Scottish Conservative leader what would be best is if we see this grip that the SNP have on Scotland at the moment is loosened.”

However, a Tory spokesman in Westminster stressed that tactical voting was not the official position south of the Border.

“This is emphatically not the view of the Conservative Party”, they said.

“We want people to vote for Conservative candidates wherever they are standing as that’s the best way to keep Labour and the SNP out.”

A Tory insider had previously told The Sunday Times that they were intending to undertake the unprecedented exercise in tactical voting.

However, Labour then also rejected this ploy with Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, ruling out any prospect of scheming with Ross’s party.

She said: “It appears the Scottish Tories have accepted that they have lost the next General Election.

“Scotland has two failing governments. The next General Election is an opportunity to get rid of the Tories and send a message to the SNP – by voting Scottish Labour.”

A recent Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times suggested that a Westminster election would see 39% of Scotland back the SNP, 31% vote Labour while the Tories were left with just 19%.

Speaking to Channel 4 later on Sunday, Ross was asked if he had consulted with the Prime Minister on his plans. 

“I’ve not discussed this directly with the Prime Minister but we have discussed where we’re going to be focussing our efforts in the forthcoming General Election whenever that’s called”, he said. 

Asked about his own party rejecting his plans, Ross said: “The Conservative headquarters at a UK level and here in Scotland are determined and united in ensuring that we return as many Scottish Conservative MPs and MSPs at the next Holyrood election as possible.”

He described the SNP as a “tired, failing government” and that voters were looking for a way “to send them a message”.