If Sue Gray’s report was feared in Downing Street, imagine the feeling of dread in the office of Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross.
Partygate has haunted the Scottish Conservatives for months, hampering their ability to get any political message across.
Every time MSPs raise drug deaths, ferries or the NHS, up pops the law-breaking Prime Minister to remind voters that Ross is a branch office subordinate.
The eventual publication of Gray’s report into the lockdown partying scandal was the equivalent of another stink bomb being let off on Ross’ shoes.
While Scots made unbearable sacrifices during the pandemic, Johnson’s Downing Street gang guzzled booze, sat on each other’s laps and insulted security staff who objected to the illegal events.
Johnson is the villain in this story, but Ross is partly to blame for the collateral damage inflicted on the Scottish Tories from Johnson’s mis-deeds.
He initially called for Johnson to quit, only to follow it up with an inexplicable u-turn on the eve of his party’s conference.
He has now performed another u-turn by saying Johnson should quit after the war is over.
Ross, weakened and diminished, was rewarded with a disastrous council election result in May that saw his party slide to third place.
Even his own colleagues on the Tory floor in Edinburgh know his political share price has hit the ground. The reason he has not been toppled is no-one wants his job.
Johnson looks certain to hold on to office, but his continued tenure in Number 10 will have a similarly disastrous effect on his party’s chances at the next general election.
On Ruth Davidson’s watch, the Scottish Tories leapfrogged Labour into third place and won 13 Westminster seats in 2017. She ensured they became the main challengers to the SNP.
Party insiders fear the Scottish Tories are in line for the sort of electoral thrashing voters administered for decades by falling to a single seat at the next general election.
Labour, simply by standing still, can look forward to coming second in 2024 and credibly claim to be the most pro-UK party in Scotland.
The Johnson/Ross double act will also have profound consequences on the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future.
Nicola Sturgeon will soon publish a bill for an independence referendum to take place by the end of next year.
In the first referendum, the No side successfully framed the vote as a choice between the uncertainty of an independent Scotland and the stability of a 307 year old Union.
This time expect the Yes side to claim the choice is between Westminster mendacity typified by Johnson’s Government and a clean break.
The danger for the pro-UK side is that indyref2 will be portrayed by the SNP as Scotland versus Boris.
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