DOUGLAS Ross has defended Rishi Sunak after he made a transgender jibe in the Commons while murdered teenager Brianna Ghey’s mum was visiting Parliament.

The Scottish Conservative leader was asked at an event in Edinburgh on Friday whether he would call on the Prime Minister to apologise after he made what has been described by Brianna’s father as a “degrading” remark.

After Keir Starmer highlighted Sunak’s failure to bring down NHS waiting times at Prime Minister's Questions, Sunak hit back at him listing various U-turns the Labour leader had made on policy and suggested he was incapable of “defining a woman”.

When he was asked whether he would urge Sunak to apologise to Brianna’s family Ross did not answer the question, insisting it didn’t help to “make this a political issue”.

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“The appalling murder of Brianna Ghey is something that everyone has condemned and the Prime Minister said his thoughts were very much with her family following this appalling murder,” Ross told The National.

“I don’t think it does anyone justice to look to make this a political issue. The Prime Minister, I understand, has offered to meet with Brianna’s mum which will hopefully help to ensure they can have that discussion and that dialogue.

“I think it’s really important – as this is getting lost in the story - to commend Esther for her bravery and strength in campaigning on this issue following the loss of her daughter.”

Pushed again on whether he thought Sunak should say sorry, Ross repeated: “The Prime Minister has offered to meet with Brianna’s mum and I think that’s important they have that discussion.”

Sunak has been repeatedly pressed on whether he will say sorry to Brianna’s family but has so far resisted calls.

Brianna, 16, was murdered last year in a “frenzied and ferocious” knife attack near Warrington, Cheshire. Her teenage killers have been handed life sentences.

Ross spoke to journalists in the capital after speaking about his party’s plans to modernise the NHS as he unveiled a new paper on the issue.

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The document included plans to deliver 1000 additional GPs by the end of the next parliamentary term.

He also vowed to give patients a guarantee of seeing a family doctor within a week by raising the proportion of NHS funding to GP services by 12%, while health boards could be sanctioned if they exceed national waiting times.

Ross – who insisted the NHS needed to embrace innovation and technology – put forward the idea of creating an NHS app that lets patients see live waiting times and book appointments, as suggested there needed to be “a new focus on personal responsibility” to protect the future of the health service.

The National:

The Scottish Tory leader said his party would bring forward a vaping restrictions bill that would go beyond legislation proposed by the UK Government, banning vaping in public places and forcing vapes to be sold behind the counter.

It comes after Michael Matheson resigned on Thursday from his position as health secretary with Neil Gray replacing him.

Ross told journalists: “I want to see the NHS free at the point of need, to be accessible for everyone, but we can only do that if we address some of the issues we’ve been raising in our report and adopt some of these policies we’re bringing forward.

“I’m not precious – if the new Health Secretary Neil Gray wants to take an approach where he will be open and listen to new suggestions, then there are several policies in our paper today that he could immediately adopt, get into motion, that would improve our health service and get waiting times down.”

Additional proposals set out by the Tories include banning the closure of any NHS facility unless its replacement has been confirmed.

He said his party will “make unacceptable waits just to see your GP a thing of the past”.