THE acting Scottish Tory leader has apologised for his “crass” mockery of Nicola Sturgeon for dying her hair.

Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw, who took over from Ruth Davidson last week after her resignation, said at least he was a natural blonde.

The catty remark came as Mr Carlaw questioned the First Minister about her government’s legislative programme for 2019-20.

Ms Sturgeon, who has often joked about Mr Carlaw’s ruddy complexion, accused him of hypocrisy, adding: “It is probably embarrassment that is making his face go a little bit red.”

Pointing proudly at his thatch, Mr Carlaw said. “Not my skin tone again! Listen First Minister, at least I’ve got a full head of my own naturally coloured hair.”

SNP MSPs shouted “shame”.

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Let’s not gloss over the fact that within a matter of days of losing their female leader, the interim leader has managed to insult practically every woman in the country with that rather ill-advised quip at the start of his rather ill-advised rant.”

The remarks were criticised by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

He told MSPs: “Can I just encourage all members and all party leaders, including the First Minister, not to make personal quips.”

As MSPs muttered in complaint and pointed at their opponents, he went on: “Can I ask members to stop pointing across the chamber and think about your own comments.”

Deputy SNP leader Keith Brown tweeted: “Once again, Nicola Sturgeon shows she is Head and Shoulders above Jackson Carlaw.”

Starting his response to the Programme for Government, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he wanted to “address politics, not personalities”.

Mr Carlaw later used Twitter to issue an apology.

He said: “Apologies all, that was crass. And fair play to Nicola Sturgeon for getting under my (very red west of Scotland) skin.”

He was more successful when he welcomed LibDem Beatrice Wishart, Holyrood’s newest MSP, noting the winner of the Shetland byelection, was “next to the architect of her victory, Willie Rennie Macintosh”.

Mr Carlaw’s attempts at humour have backfired before.

In 2005, he infamously told Tory activists: “The only person recorded as saying de-feat is marvellous is Robert Mugabe’s chiropodist.”