Scottish Tories react with 'pure fury' to Boris Johnson's devolution comments

Scottish Conservative MSPs reacted with “pure fury” when they heard about Boris Johnson’s comments on devolution being a “disaster” north of the Border.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, right, sits with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Bute House. Mr Johnson has inflamed Scottish discontent with his Conservative government by reportedly saying that giving governing powers to Scotland had been a "disaster". Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Poo Photo via AP, File
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, right, sits with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Bute House. Mr Johnson has inflamed Scottish discontent with his Conservative government by reportedly saying that giving governing powers to Scotland had been a "disaster". Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Poo Photo via AP, File

A party source said the vast majority of its members at Holyrood were united in believing the Prime Minister had made a serious error of judgement.

Leader Douglas Ross was quick to disown Mr Johnson’s comments, which come less than six months before next year’s crucial Scottish Parliament election.

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His remarks were also condemned across the Scottish political spectrum, with other parties accusing him of treating voters with “shocking contempt”.

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Asked to describe the mood among Scottish Tory MSPs, a party source said: “The reaction was pure fury.”

Andy McIvor, who was the party’s head of communications for five years, said he was “pretty astonished” when he heard what the Prime Minister had said.

“To be honest, this is the sort of thing that even if you think it, you just don’t say it. It’s toxic in Scottish politics to say anything like that,” he told the BBC.

“I think he’s given Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories another massive headache … the damage is done.”

Mr Ross responded to Mr Johnson’s remarks by tweeting: “Devolution has not been a disaster. The SNP’s non-stop obsession with another referendum – above jobs, schools and everything else – has been a disaster.”

Nicola Sturgeon said she would be “bookmarking” the Prime Minister’s remarks “for the next time the Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard accused Mr Johnson of showing “shocking contempt” for Scotland, while his Liberal Democrat counterpart Willie Rennie said his comments would “appal moderate, reasonable people”.

UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick had earlier told Sky News: "The Prime Minister has always supported devolution, but he is at heart a unionist and he is very troubled by the rise of nationalism and separatism.

In a later interview on Tuesday, Mr Jenrick also had choice words for those pushing for another independence referendum for Scotland, following 2014's No result.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I also think, frankly, that any politician who wanted to hold a referendum on a topic like this at this moment in time...is frankly, mad."

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