DOUGLAS Ross has praised the Prime Minister's Conservative conference speech, promoting its "radical" elements and the party's "strong programme".

The Scottish Tory chief spoke up for Rishi Sunak as the party's conference in Manchester saw political analysts call out its rightward drift

Sunak had used his address to weigh in on debates about sex education and transgender rights.

He told Tory delegates: “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t, a man is a man and a woman is a woman.”

Speaking on Thursday, following the conclusion of the event, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf accused the Tories of trying to "stoke the culture wars" for political gain.

READ MORE: FMQs: Humza Yousaf apologises after branding Douglas Ross a liar

Yousaf was asked about the speech as he spoke to journalists after First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday.

He said: “I think from a Prime Minister, or frankly anybody that’s in a leadership position, we’ve got a real responsibility to try to make sure that we temper the debate, that we don’t add fuel to the fires of what is already a very difficult debate.

“The Conservatives have made it very clear that they’re going to stoke the culture wars in order for some perceived political advantage.

“The Prime Minister’s speech has so little in substance and so much in rhetoric.”

Yousaf also said he doubts funding promised by the PM for the A75 road upgrade would materialise.

The First Minister added: “We’re looking forward to a General Election, the sooner it comes the better because we’ll go toe-to-toe with them in the battle of ideas.”

The National:

But Ross praised Sunak’s rhetoric in the conference address, arguing Scotland will benefit from the scrapping of the HS2 rail link north of Birmingham and subsequent spending on upgrades to the A75.

Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail on Thursday, Ross said: “Rishi Sunak’s speech to conference showed bold ambition, a willingness to be radical and to take on vested interests.

“It’s clear that he relishes the prospect of the next election, believes that the Conservatives have a strong programme to offer, and is not afraid to make decisive long-term choices that will create a better future.”

READ MORE: FMQs: Barbed comments keep on coming as FM and Douglas Ross trade blows

In recent months, the Tories have been lagging behind Labour in the polls in Scotland ahead of the General Election expected next year.

On the scrapping of the high speed rail line north of the Midlands, Ross acknowledged that was a “difficult decision”, but the Prime Minister “has ensured that every penny of that spending commitment will still be going to projects that will make a significant difference to connectivity and opportunities for enterprise”.

Ross added: “Thanks to Scotland’s position as an integral part of the UK, we will benefit from this with funding and improved connectivity.”