Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has pledged to “always defend our democracy”, after a Tory peer suggested “rolling back” devolution.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, former lead Brexit negotiator Lord Frost urged Tory ministers, “if re-elected”, to begin to “review and roll back some currently devolved powers” in light of the issues facing the SNP.
“We, the Conservative Party and the Conservative Government, have allowed this to happen,” he wrote.
“It’s time to fix it. Ministers should make clear that, if re-elected, they will review and roll back some currently devolved powers.
“These powers are embryonic, independent government powers.
“They aren’t necessary to run an effective local administration, which is what devolution should be about.
“I hope, of course, that Labour might do likewise and drop its sneaking admiration for socialism in one (devolved) nation, but I am not holding my breath.”
Asked about the comments during First Minister’s Questions, Mr Yousaf said: “We will always defend our democracy and we will always defend the voice and the will of the Scottish people.”
He also took aim at the Scottish Tories – several of whom had criticised Lord Frost’s column.
“Lord Frost, unelected Tory peer, gave the game away,” Mr Yousaf said.
“He said the quiet bit loud, he said what every single Scottish Conservative really thinks.”
But the column was attacked by senior Scottish Tories on Twitter, with Murdo Fraser describing the comments as “nonsense”, adding: “Devolution has allowed us to shine a light on SNP failures. The @Conservatives will not be rolling it back.”
Fellow MSP Stephen Kerr tweeted: “Strongly disagree with this article.
“A poor Scottish Government isn’t justification to roll back devolution, any more than issues at the UKGOV are justification for Scottish separation. Devolution works. It’s the SNP that are failing.”
The party’s constitution spokesman Donald Cameron added: “What a load of baloney. Devolution hasn’t failed and no Conservative should want to reverse it.”
The column even prompted a statement from the party, with a spokesperson saying: “Lord Frost is a backbench peer and entitled to his personal views.
“Our view, shared by the UK party, is that the problem is not with devolution but with this divided and distracted SNP Government.”
Liberal Democrat Scotland spokeswoman Christine Jardine said: “Devolution is the settled will of the people of Scotland.
“They are the same people who want their politicians in both parliaments to focus on fixing the NHS, education and those infamous and expensive ferries, not constitutional confrontation.”