Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has called for the country to unite after Rishi Sunak became Conservative leader and soon-to-be prime minister and pressure for a general election grows.
Mr Sunak won the contest after rival Penny Mordaunt ended her bid for the top job just minutes before the number of nominations for each candidate were due to be announced on Monday.
Douglas Ross had remained quiet on the leadership contest as he had in the race over the summer which saw Liz Truss take over in No 10.
In a statement released in the minutes after Mr Sunak’s win became public, the Scottish leader praised the former chancellor’s economic record.
“Our country – like others around the world – faces tough economic challenges,” he said.
“Against that backdrop, it’s important that we have someone at the helm with a proven track record in running the nation’s finances, who can provide economic stability and reassurance to the markets.
“Recent weeks have been difficult and unsettling for both the Conservative Party and, more importantly, the country.
“Now all our focus must be on bringing the nation together and navigating the tough economic conditions we face.
“As he showed during his time as Chancellor – not least in safeguarding one in three Scottish jobs during the pandemic through the furlough scheme – Rishi Sunak is uniquely well equipped for that task.”
Mr Sunak, who will become the third prime minister since early September, faces increasing pressure to call a general election from opposition parties.
Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of the announcement of Mr Sunak’s win, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said calling a new poll should be the first act of the new occupant of No 10.
“Of course, there should be a general election,” she said. “The governance of any country cannot simply be a revolving door that one party gets to pick time and time again who occupies the highest office in the land.
“It is preposterous, democratically. I accept that parties will change leader at times between elections. That happened when I became First Minister.
“But I then went on to lead my party to a general election landslide within six months, to a Scottish election victory within 18 months.
“But the Tories can’t keep changing who occupies No 10 without getting democratic legitimacy.
“So, of course, there should be a general election but do I think that is going to happen? That the Tories are voluntarily going to concede that? No, I don’t.”
The First Minister, who said the political turmoil at Westminster provided a solid case for independence, also added she feared there would be “horrific” austerity imposed on Scotland as a result of UK Government policy.
Ms Sturgeon’s comments come as her Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, wrote to Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, calling on him to lodge a motion of no confidence in the Government, forcing an election.
Despite the calls for an election, one of Mr Sunak’s key allies in Scotland – Tory MP Andrew Bowie – said on Monday morning the UK Government should focus on “sober, serious” governance instead.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said, regardless of the change of leader, it will “not stop the rot”.
“This is a morally bankrupt and incompetent Tory party that cares only about hanging on to power,” he added.
“The Tories have turned Britain into an international punchline – and they have treated you with contempt.
“Rishi Sunak has no mandate to lead the country. It’s time we had a general election and swept this immoral Government from power.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said Mr Sunak’s appointment would be “music to the ears of his super rich friends, but, for millions of people in Scotland and beyond it will be devastating”.
He added: “Scotland didn’t vote for any of them. There is no doubt that we need an election, and the chance to remove this chaotic government. But we also need a fair and democratic referendum.
“Surely after all this, nobody can doubt that Scotland is capable of better than the shambles that calls itself the UK Government.”