HAS anyone seen Douglas Ross? The Scottish Tory leader has just executed that rare political manoeuvre, the UU turn, which involves contorting himself so much that he has probably disappeared up his own fundament. That must be the explanation for his invisibility today. Aye, right, that'll be it. 

To recap – because keeping up with Ross's ever-shifting position is a bit like chasing after a scampering dug that's in hot pursuit of some excrement to roll in – the Scottish Tory leader said earlier this year that Johnson had to resign and that he had lost confidence in the Prime Law Breaker.

But as soon as it became apparent that there was not sufficient support on the Tory backbenches to set off a no-confidence vote, all of a sudden Ross thinks that Johnson is, after all, a fine, upstanding chap and the very best man to lead the Conservative Party and the UK despite receiving a fine for an unlawful party during lockdown.

Then after the damning Sue Gray report, Ross decides that Johnson does have to go after all, but only after the war in Ukraine was over, seeing as how Ross wants us to believe that Johnson doing his impression of an abandoned mattress is all that stands between Western civilisation and a Russian tank division.

However, it now seems that the war in Ukraine is over, only no one thought to tell the Ukrainians or the Russians, because in last night's vote of no confidence in Johnson, Ross decided that now is the time to vote to remove Johnson from Downing Street.

As it transpired, the vote failed to unseat Johnson and provoke a leadership contest, although Johnson is gravely damaged by the fact that 148 of his MPs – including Douglas Ross and three other Scottish Conservative MPs – opposed him. Johnson’s critics are now considering their next move, but as party rules currently stand, he is safe from another confidence vote for the next 12 months. 

This means that Douglas Ross is now lumbered with a UK Prime Minister and Conservative leader against whom he has very publicly declared that he has no confidence in not once, but twice. The British nationalist frothers on social media are not taking it at all well. They are furious that Ross has displayed such open disloyalty to Boris Johnson whom they believe, against all evidence to the contrary, is their best bet for fending off the terror of independence. Johnson might have lost a lot of support among Tory MPs, but Douglas Ross has lost even more support among Scottish Conservatives.

So what is Ross's next move to be? Will he resign because it is clearly untenable for him to continue as the Scottish branch manager of a British nationalist party whose UK leader he has repudiated twice, or will he perform yet another U turn? Or, most likely, he will continue to hide away in the hope that he can eventually become as forgettable as David Duguid, who was the sole Scottish Tory backbench MP to vote in support of Johnson.

The only other Scottish Conservative MP to support Johnson was the Scotland Secretary Alister Jack, who as a member of the government and part of the so-called payroll vote was always expected to back the man who keeps him in the job which is all that stands between him and being a complete political non-entity.

North and south of the Border, the Conservatives are now in for a protracted period of internecine warfare. Pass the popcorn. Boris Johnson's political life expectancy may now be measured in months, but Douglas Ross's is surely even shorter. However, both at Westminster and at Holyrood, their most immediate problem is that there is no obvious successor in sight.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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