Tories At War: Jacob Rees-Mogg Dismisses Scottish Leader Douglas Ross As A 'Lightweight'

Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark responded with an “ooofft”.

The Conservative Party is engulfed in a civil war as a senior Tory dismissed its leader in Scotland as a “lightweight” after urging Boris Johnson to quit.

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg’s damning criticism of Douglas Ross – who is a member of the Westminster and Holyrood parliaments – came on a day of deep division over “partygate”.

Johnson on Wednesday admitted attending a “bring your own booze” gathering in the garden of No 10 during England’s first lockdown – although he insisted he believed it had been a “work event”.

In the aftermath, Ross was the first Tory MP to call on his leader to quit. “Regrettably, I have to say his position is no longer tenable,” he said.

When confronted by Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark about a backlash from Conservative MSPs, and the fact he earlier called Ross “not a big figure”, Rees-Mogg said: “Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure, so I don’t think his ...”

Wark responded with an “ooofft” before Rees-Mogg could finish his sentence.

The appearance underlined the many faultlines in the party.

Three other Tory MPs – William Wragg, Roger Gale and Caroline Nokes – later joined Ross in suggesting Johnson should exit No.10.

Eventually, most of Johnson’s Cabinet came on social media showing their backing for him.

Nadine Dorries, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid supported the PM’s apology, while deputy prime minister Dominic Raab told broadcasters that Johnson would be in post “for many years to come”.

But chancellor Rishi Sunak, having missed the statement in the Commons, took to Twitter eight hours later to say the PM was “right to apologise”.