DOUGLAS Ross was scolded in the Holyrood chamber after he called John Swinney’s integrity into question – and repeatedly declined to apologise.

The Scottish Tory leader took aim at Swinney and Kate Forbes, the two frontrunners in the SNP leadership contest, as he spoke on a no-confidence motion in the Scottish Government.

Ross had questioned why no serving Cabinet ministers had thrown their hat into the ring to replace Humza Yousaf, calling the first minister’s office a “poisoned chalice”.

“Never mind the opposition having no confidence in this government, it seems none of the government ministers have confidence in themselves,” Ross said.

He then took specific aim at Forbes, claiming that as finance secretary she “ran Scotland's economy when it lagged behind the rest of the United Kingdom”.

He went on: “Then Presiding Officer, there's Honest John.”

Ross was called out by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone and told: “We do not use nicknames in the chamber.”

He responded: “Oh, sorry. I thought it was on accuracy because it would be Not-So-Honest John, with some of the things we've heard recently.”

The jibe sparked jeers in the Chamber, while a visibly angry Swinney could be seen to say: “That is not on.”

The Presiding Officer invited Ross to apologise, but the Scottish Tory leader ignored her.

After continuing, Johnstone again asked Ross to apologise and was again ignored.

Johnstone was forced to interrupt for a third time, saying: "You may not be able to hear me. I'd be grateful if you would apologise.”

Ross finally conceded, saying: “I will apologise. I'm very sorry for any hurt caused.”

After the incident, the Labour-tabled vote of no confidence in the Scottish Government fell by 70 votes to 58.

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If the motion had passed, the entire Scottish Government would have been forced to resign, with Holyrood given 28 days to elect a new first minister before an election was called.

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie – who said he would back a no-confidence vote in Yousaf as first minister – called the Labour motion aimed at the whole government “chaos for the sake of chaos” as his party voted against it.

Anas Sarwar, the Labour group leader, said both the SNP and the Conservative governments at have been “unable to meet the ambitions, hopes and aspirations of the people”, adding: “That’s why our country is crying out for change.

“They want to get rid of this rotten Tory Government across the UK.

“And they want to move on from this dysfunctional and incompetent SNP Government here in Scotland.

“That’s why we need an election so the people can decide.”

The National: First Minister Humza Yousaf leaving Bute House

Yousaf (above) said he is proud of the SNP’s record in Government, telling MSPs he had not “heard a single positive idea” from Labour in his 13 months in the top job.

He added: “What I have heard is the deafening sound of principle after principle being thrown out of Anas Sarwar’s window. U-turning on the two child cap, U-turning on the devolution of employment law, U-turning on the devolution of drug law, U-turning on his support for Waspi women.

“The true vote of no confidence that the people of Scotland really need, and they deserve, is a vote of no confidence in this failing, miserable union that is holding Scotland back and inflicting damage on the people and the economy of this country.”