SCOTTISH Tory leader Douglas Ross told BBC presenter Martin Geissler he would take him “off air” if he could make one change at the corporation.

The light-hearted moment came at the close of an interview which saw the MSP, who was appearing on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, refuse to reveal how many members his party have – despite moments before claiming they were “absolutely” open and transparent.

Ross was speaking to the BBC the day after the close of the Scottish Tory conference, which was held at Glasgow’s SEC.

He was asked about the Tories’ big pitch to voters made at that conference to insulate every household in Scotland. Specifically, Ross was quizzed on how much that would cost.

“This is a combination of grants and loans,” the Tory MSP responded. “What I was saying is the Scottish Government have a plan for the social rented sector but they don’t have a plan for private owners, homeowners.

“I don’t think it’s fair that people who own their own homes should be asked to help the Government meet their net-zero targets and not get support from the Government.”

Pressed on how much the Tories’ proposals would actually cost, Ross again dodged the question.

“We’d have to look at that. We’d have to look at the demand that there is,” the Tory leader said.

Asked about the crisis in Sudan and Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s claims that asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats have values which are “at odds” with the UK, Ross also avoided the questions.

“I’m just focused on what the government is doing and that’s helping to try and support people who have come to the UK through safe and legal routes,” he said.

Questioned on Downing Street’s attempts to restrict access to the Prime Minister to a small number of hand-picked outlets, Ross said he accepted it “could have been handled better”.

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But the Scottish Tory defended Rishi Sunak, saying he was “upbeat” and “robust” and had spent lots of time speaking to party members.

No 10 officials had originally planned to have a press conference with the Prime Minister and only a small number of invited journalists.

Excluded outlets went along anyway, but an aide then told journalists that Sunak would only be answering a single question with a broadcaster that could be shared with other outlets – prompting outrage from those in the room.

Almost an hour later, as a result of negotiations between journalists and No 10, aides said Sunak would speak, taking questions from the six initially invited, and also do a pooled broadcast interview.

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When asked about the incident on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Ross said of the Prime Minister (above): “He was on the stage for about 30 minutes and he spoke to the audience, he took questions from members across Scotland, he then did media interviews.

“Look it could have been handled better, I accept that, but he also spent a lot of time with members upstairs in one of the rooms in the SEC, so he had a lot of different priorities at conference.”

Ross said he personally undertook “90 minutes of media interviews” after his own speech at the conference. Ross’s huddle with print media lasted around 25 minutes. He did broadcast interviews afterwards.

Asked whether the Scottish Conservatives are open and transparent, Ross said: “Absolutely”.

However, when asked how many members the Scottish Tories have, he said: “I’ve also answered this question many times, this is something we put out when there is a leadership election, that’s always been the case, and when those numbers come out they will be numbers that you and the public can trust.”

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He said the figure was last issued in 2020 before he was party leader and that he thinks it was about 6000 or 7000, adding “I can’t remember off the top of my head”.

At the close of the interview, host Geissler said he had not got the chance to talk about Richard Sharp, the Tory donor who resigned as BBC chair amid questions over his close ties to Boris Johnson.

Instead Ross was asked as a quick, final question: “What one change would you make to the BBC?”

“I’d take you off the air," Ross said, sparking laughter from Geissler before the Tory MSP added: "So you could watch Hearts more."

“I’m not sure that would be your rationale but I’m sure that would perhaps be your priority,” the BBC host replied.

“I’m still in a job for now so let’s get on with the programme shall we,” he added after.