RUTH Davidson has said she would have “sympathised with the parents” of a sick child forced to lie on a hospital floor instead of turning away from his picture like Boris Johnson.

The former Scottish leader said she would have “reacted differently” if she had been shown the photograph of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr.

The Prime Minister was accused of having an “empathy bypass” after pocketing the phone of ITV reporter Joe Pike when he tried to show him the picture on Monday.

It showed the boy lying on a pile of coats despite suspected pneumonia because of a lack of beds at Leeds General Infirmary.

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Ms Davidson was speaking to the press after a joint event in Edinburgh with her successor Jackson Carlaw - neither of whom mentioned Mr Johnson by name in their speeches.

Asked if she winced when she saw the Prime Minister turn away from the photograph, she said: “I’m not sure it’s the reaction that I would have had. But he’s been asked about it. He can answer for himself. I’m not here to answer for the Prime Minister.”

Asked if she was embarrassed by the incident, she said: “Well, like I say, I would have reacted differently.”

Asked how she would have reacted, she said: “Well, I think that I would have sympathised with the parents of that child, asked whether the child had been treated successfully and where they were, and then actually I probably would have dispatched the health secretary in the same way that the Prime Minister did to find out what on earth was going on and try and get it sorted out, which is actually what the job of government is. Which is what he did.”

Asked if she was worried Mr Johnson had a hole in his personality that led him to fail to do some of those things, she said: “I’ve answered this question five or six times now. I think we can move on.”

On Tuesday, Glasgow Tory MSP Annie Wells disowned Mr Johnson when she was asked about his reaction to the child’s photo.

In the warm-up show for the BBC Scotland leaders debate, she said: “I will admit that he could have done better. I wouldn’t have handled it that way.

“But I don’t represent Boris Johnson. I don’t understand his way of thinking. But what I would say is that it is one thing in this campaign and he could have handled it better.”

On the same programme, SNP Brexit Secretary Michael Russell said the incident was further proof that Mr Johnson was “unfit” to remain in Downing Street.

Ms Davidson, who quit after eight years as leader in August over Brexit and her new family, has never hidden her antipathy to Mr Johnson, and recommended three alternative candidates - Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt - in the Tory leadership race.

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Asked more about Mr Johnson, the Edinburgh MSP did little to disguise her ill-will.

She said: “There is someone, who, whatever you think of him...and I have found people who are very strong Boris supporters across the country, and it does seem to be what we used to call aspirational working-class voters in Scotland.

“I am a middle-class Remainer and lots of my friends are middle-class Remainers, and there is a view, because he led the Leave campaign and lots of other reasons…

“But you speak to aspirational working-class voters across Scotland and there a very strong support for him in some parts of this country in a way that I don’t think even I appreciated, to be honest with you."

Asked why she hadn’t mentioned her party’s candidate for Prime Minister in her eve of election speech, she said: “It wasn’t on purpose. I was talking about the situation in Scotland. In Scotland, I think - again - we’ve been having a different election from the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Asked what qualities she admired in Mr Johnson, Ms Davidson paused, then said: “I think there is a tenacity there.

“I said when I stood down I thought he wanted to get a deal out of the European Union.

“I wasn’t sure, as lots of the country weren’t sure, that he would be able to do it.

“But by force personality he has come with a deal and that is something I respect about him.”