JACKSON Carlaw has become the most senior Conservative to urge Dominic Cummings to quit, saying he has become too much of a distraction in the fight against coronavirus.

The Scottish Tory leader said he had made his views known to Downing Street, where the Prime Minister is trying desperately to cling on to his most trusted adviser after he broke the lockdown.

The SNP said Mr Carlaw had been "shamed into doing the right thing" and his reluctance had fatally undermined his authority.

Mr Carlaw spoke out after a wave of his own MSPs demanded Mr Cummings resign after Moray MP Douglas Ross quit as a Scotland Office minister over the issue.

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That put enormous pressure on Mr Carlaw, who already accusations from within his own ranks of being “craven” in his support of Boris Johnson, to follow suit.

Mr Carlaw told STV News: "This is now consuming the entire debate, distracting away from the principal message and the virus and if I were in his position, if it were me, I would be considering my position."

Asked if Mr Johnson should sack his top aide, Mr Carlaw said: "I'm not going to issue instructions to the prime minister.

"It is absolutely a matter for the prime minister himself who serves him and for how long they serve.

"But given the furore, given the distraction we are now in, given the distraction to the Prime Minister on this issue, if I were Mr Cummings I would be considering my position.

"It is a distraction for the Prime Minister, I think it is diluting the message, I think all across the country the focus has to be on tackling the virus.

"Here in Scotland my job as opposition leader is to hold the Scottish government to account, to point out where there are shortcomings not for the sake of that but to ensure that we then get the right policy in place.

"That's what my energy and attention should be on. We want to see the whole country defeat this virus and we can't do it if the debate is being distracted by other things."

Mr Cummings broke the lockdown in March by 260-miles from London to his family’s farm in Durham with his wife and four-year-old child, saying he needed to ensure child care if both parents fell sick. 

He also took a 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, his wife’s birthday, saying he had needed to test his eyesight before driving back to London.

His action, and the public's attitude to them given their sacrifices, prompted Mr Ross to resign as a minister at 9.20am this morning.

It is understood Mr Johnson and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack tried to persuade to stay, but he quit regardless, saying he could not in good faith tell his constituents they were wrong to follow the 'stay at home' advice and Mr Cummings had been right to act differently.

His exit triggered a wave of support among the Tory group at Holyrood, where Mr Ross was briefly an MSP before going to Westminster in 2017.

Glasgow MSP Adam Tomkins, Mr Carlaw's strategy spokesman, said losing Mr Ross from the UK Government was a “disaster”.

He tweeted: “It shows exactly why Cummings should be sacked. I suspect others will follow where Douglas has led.”

Tory finance spokesman Donald Cameron tweeted "Well done, my friend" in response to Mr Ross's resignation statement.

Constitution spokesman Murdo Fraser also told a constituent that Mr Cummings's trip to Durham had broken the lockdown rules.

He said: "My own personal view on the matter, on the basis of the information currently available, is that Mr Cummings did break the rules, and therefore, as someone who is [in] a position of authority, he should step down from the post."

He added: "I have communicated this view to the Prime Minister through the appropriate channels."

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Scottish Tory chief whip Liz Smith was also reported to have called for Mr Cummings to resign, saying she was contacted by more than 200 angry constituents yesterday, many of whom had not been able to visit loved ones in care homes or as they died. 

Local Government spokesman Graham Simpson put a statement on his website saying Mr Cummings should go.

He wrote: "The advice from government across the UK was crystal clear – if a member of your household fell ill with Coronavirus symptoms you were – and still are – to stay put so you don’t spread the virus.

"Dominic Cummings didn’t do that. He didn’t follow the advice that his own government, in which he is the key advisor, issued.

"I don’t like calling for people to resign or be sacked – there is too much of that. I tend to believe in giving people the chance to say sorry and learn. In this case though I think Mr Cummings should go."

SNP MSP George Adam said: “Jackson Carlaw has eventually arrived at the correct position, which will only further the pressure on Boris Johnson to act.

“But this entire episode has been humiliating for the Scottish Tories, and for Jackson Carlaw personally.

“It is only under extreme public pressure, and a mutiny among his own ranks, that Jackson Carlaw conceded that the UK government should be held to the same standards he expects of others.

“That is an appalling lack of courage and of leadership that won’t be forgotten – and which leaves his authority within his own party and parliamentary group fatally undermined.”