Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross thinks he could be first minster by next year - despite Nicola Sturgeon’s huge lead in polls

PUBLISHED: 14:28 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 August 2020

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson alongside new Scottish Conservative leader and MP Douglas Ross in Edinburgh. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson alongside new Scottish Conservative leader and MP Douglas Ross in Edinburgh. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross reckons he could take on Nicola Sturgeon to become the first minister of Scotland - despite his pro-Brexit stance and her mammoth lead in the polls.

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Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon with prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA.Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon with prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA.

Speaking to the Scottish Sun, the MP for Moray said he favoured his chances of success, and rejected claims he’d be “just another Jo Swinson”.

YouGov’s most recent poll reveals that 53% of Scots support independence, with the SNP polling at 57% on the constituency vote and 47% on the list vote.

The Conseratives are in second, but only on 20% and 21%. Labour is solidly in third place, polling 14% on both votes.

But with Jackson Carlow resigning just two weeks ago from his post as leader of the Scottish Tories and Ross taking the reins, he feels confident about overturning the Sturgeon storm.

He said he would spend the next nine months camapaigning against independence and focusing on education, health, justice and the economy, stressing that there’d “be no point in getting involved in politics if you don’t think you can achieve the ultimate office”.

Rebuffing comparisons between himself and Jo Swinson, who lost her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan in December, Ross said it was Swinson’s anti-Brexit stance which lost her support.

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He said: “I don’t think it was simply her ambitions to take her party forward, it was the fact that she was against Brexit, and was willing to disrespect a democratic result the country had delivered.”

But YouGov, which carried out fieldwork before Sturgeon’s Scottish Highers climbdown, found that 72% of Scots think she is doing well as first minister. Only 22% think the opposite.

The poll even found that a majority of those who voted ‘no’ in the last independence referendum support the job she is doing.

Those figures are almost reversed for the UK’s Boris Johnson - with 20% thinking he’s doing well and 74% badly.

But according to Ross, even these surveys are ‘telling a story’.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s been clear herself that this is at a time when she’s not speaking about independence. It’s when she is dealing with a pandemic.

“What we’ve seen is a return to some of the more traditional areas to focus on - education, improving the health service, strengthening the economy after this pandemic.

“I believe we can make significant gains ahead of next May because we will have a positive vision for the country going forward.”

“By then, I’ll have a strong manifesto and a strong team, and we want to get the highest office to be able to implement these policies.”

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