Scottish Tory MSPs have been accused of hypocrisy for condemning Lord Frost’s comments on “rolling back” devolution.
The SNP said the Tory party “can’t change its spots” on its opposition to the creation of the Scottish Parliament.
It came after former lead Brexit negotiator Lord Frost wrote in the Daily Telegraph to urge Tory ministers, “if re-elected”, to “review and roll back some currently devolved powers” in light of the issues facing the SNP.
He said his party had “allowed this to happen”, adding: “Scotland does not need to be an independent actor on the world stage, it should not be able to legislate to disrupt free trade within the UK, and it does not need to have most tax-raising powers currently available to it.”
Lord Frost also said devolution should be about running an “effective local administration”.
The column was condemned by multiple senior Tory MSPs, with finance spokeswoman Liz Smith calling it “ill-informed and misleading”.
Murdo Fraser described it as “nonsense” and said devolution had enabled opposition MSPs to “shine a light” on SNP failings, while Donald Cameron, the Scottish Tories’ constitution spokesman, said it was “a load of baloney”.
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said Tory MSPs’ support for the UK Government’s section 35 order of the Scotland Act to block gender reform laws showed their comments amounted to “crocodile tears”.
He also said the refusal to acknowledge the demand for an independence referendum undermined democracy.
Mr Brown said: “The people of Scotland will see right through these crocodile tears from Tory MSPs who have failed time and time again to stand up for Scotland’s democracy any time their Westminster bosses attempted to take powers away from Holyrood.
“All Lord Frost did this week was say what every Tory MSP has been thinking: the Tories would rather there was not a Scottish Parliament at all. They know they will never win power in Holyrood so they are more interested in trying to undermine it.
“The Tories never supported devolution and a Scottish parliament in the first place – a leopard can’t change its spots.
“If Tory MSPs really cared about Scotland’s democracy they would stand up to the blatant power grabs we have seen from (Prime Minister Rishi) Sunak’s man in Scotland – Alister Jack.”
Craig Hoy, the Scottish Conservative’s constitution spokesman, branded it a “feeble attack from the SNP”.
“The Scottish and UK Conservatives fully support devolution – of which section 35 is a crucial part,” he said.
“The UK Government was forced to pause the progress of the SNP’s flawed Gender Reform Bill because of its impact on equalities legislation across the UK. Without a mechanism to deal with cases like this, devolution would simply not be able to function – as the SNP know well, having voted for it as part of the Scotland Act.
“Poll after poll has shown that most Scots not only oppose the SNP’s Gender Recognition Bill itself, but also their costly legal challenge to the section 35 order.
“It is Humza Yousaf who is trying to fool voters, by attempting to manufacture grievance with the UK Government and distract from the scandal engulfing his rapidly collapsing party.”