THE SNP have challenged Douglas Ross and Tory MSPs to “find a backbone” and publicly call-out Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after a rollback on key net zero policies.

Rishi Sunak said last Wednesday that England would delay the ban on new petrol and diesel cars by five years, moving the target from 2030 to 2035. Sunak was criticised by environmental activists, and some in his own party, following the Downing Street announcement, which also saw him weaken the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035.

Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for net zero Douglas Lumsden, meanwhile, said the plans were “sensible and pragmatic”.

But there isn’t a consensus within the party, with Tory MSP Maurice Golden criticising the Prime Minister’s watering down of climate pledges as “regressive” in a column for The Times on Sunday.

The SNP have blasted Ross as Scottish Tory leader, saying he has a “track record of faithfully doing what his London bosses tell him to”.

Commenting, SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said: “Rishi Sunak pandering to the right-wing of his party for short term political reprieve will go down as one of the worst decisions taken by a Prime Minister in living memory.

“This betrayal of future generations is unforgivable – it is vital that Tory MSPs in Holyrood find a backbone and add their voices to the growing numbers calling Rishi Sunak to re-think this dangerous U-turn.

“Douglas Ross has a track record of faithfully doing what his London bosses tell him to – just look at last year’s disastrous mini-budget - but it would be welcome if on this most serious of issues he could for once stand up to them, instead of burying his head in the sand.

“While the Tories take this backwards step, it has never been more vital that the SNP Government press ahead and ensure Scotland remains a global climate leader that can attract the skills and investment needed to reach net-zero.”

Lumsden said: “The Prime Minister announced a sensible, pragmatic plan for reaching net zero on the original timetable that also takes into account the cost-of-living pressures the public faces.

“The SNP and Greens should be focused on addressing their own dismal record in meeting environmental targets, rather than criticising others.”