A Tory blame game has erupted in Scotland after the party suffered a disastrous night in the local elections.
The Conservatives lost councillors across the country as they dropped to third place behind Labour and the SNP.
Allies of Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross blamed the partygate scandal at Westminster and Boris Johnson’s unpopularity north of the border for the dramatic downturn in the party’s fortunes.
But others said Ross’s decision to withdraw his call for the prime minister’s resignation had damaged the Tories’ electoral prospects.
After the results in six of Scotland’s 32 local authorities had been declared, the Conservatives had already lost 21 councillors, with dozens more set to follow suit.
Both Labour and the Lib Dems were making gains at the Tories’ expense, while the SNP have consolidated their place as Scotland’s pre-eminent political party.
Adam Tomkins, a former Scottish Conservative MSP, rejected suggestions from some within the party that the PM was to blame.
He tweeted: “I’m sorry but this is nonsense. Whatever today’s results show Douglas Ross owns this, not Boris. It was Douglas who u-turned, Douglas who flipped, and Douglas who backed the PM. He and his team need to own the consequences, not pass the buck.”
But a supporter of Ross took issue with that analysis, pointing out that the Tories were also suffering a bad night in England.
They told HuffPost UK: “I think it’s unhelpful for people within the Scottish party to be pointing accusing fingers at Douglas when we’ve been losing councils like Wandsworth and Westminster. There may just be a wider narrative here.”
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, said voters in Scotland had “sent a message” to Boris Johnson.
He said: “The important story from Scotland is the fact that the Tories are being rejected.
“Their vote is down and I think what really is important today is that the voters have sent a message to Boris Johnson.
“I think there’s two things that count; one is of course the cost-of-living crisis – more needs to be done, and the other issue is partygate.
“I think people in Scotland have made it very clear that they want no more of this from Boris Johnson and his Conservatives.”