TORY hopes of ousting SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson at the general election have been boosted by the local election result in Moray.

Although the Conservatives returned eight councillors to the SNP’s nine, the Tories were ahead on vote share, putting Mr Robertson at risk on June 8.

The Conservatives polled 36.1 per cent in the council vote, up from 31.1 per cent in the 2015 general election, while the SNP vote share fell from 49.5 to 31.6 per cent.

Momentum also appeared to be on the Tory side, with the party gaining five councillors while the SNP lost one.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson last week said her party already had a “close to 50 per cent” chance of removing Mr Robertson, who has been one of the SNP’s key strategists for a generation.

She said a “titanic battle” was underway between the SNP’s Westminster leader and Tory list MSP Douglas Ross, who came second in the seat at the last general election.

Defeating Mr Robertson would be a “real Ed Balls moment for Scotland”, she said, referring to the former shadow chancellor losing his Morley and Outwood seat to a Tory challenger in 2015.

Moray was the most pro-Brexit council in Scotland last year, and Mr Robertson’s enthusiasm for the EU has become an issue in the campaign.

The Tories also improved at the SNP’s expense in Perth & Kinross Council, where the party is hoping to defeat SNP MP Pete Wishart in Perth & North Perthshire.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she remains confident Mr Robertson will be returned to Westminster.