DOUGLAS Ross has been accused of having the “backbone of a jellyfish” after he withdrew his letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson. 

The Scottish Conservative chief had been one of the first in the party to call for the Prime Minister to stand down over the Downing Street partygate row, saying his position was “no longer tenable” after the Tory leader admitted attending a drinks event during lockdown. 

“He is the Prime Minister — it is his government that put these rules in place and he has to be held to account for his actions,” Mr Ross said at the time, confirming that he'd sent a letter to the backbench 1922 committee in the Commons asking for a vote of no confidence.

However, on Thursday evening he said the crisis in Ukraine meant the situation had changed.

Mr Ross said: "The middle of an international crisis is not the time to be discussing resignations unless it’s the removal from office of Vladimir Putin.

"There will be a time and place to debate partygate but, as even Keir Starmer said at the weekend, we should put that on pause while there is war in Europe.

"It's essential that we all fully support what the UK Government is doing. In light of Russia's appalling actions, the government and Prime Minister need our backing, and they have mine and the whole Scottish Conservative party.

"We should all be focused on what we can do to help the Ukrainian people in any capacity."

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "We are right to be defending democracy in Ukraine, but that doesn't mean we stop doing democracy at home.

"This is a Prime Minister that has broken his own laws and shown contempt for the people of the UK.

"Douglas Ross should not be using the Ukraine crisis to go back on his principles.

“He knows Boris Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister.

"The United Kingdom, including Scotland, deserves better."

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: “Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives have the backbone of a jellyfish.

“Their limited welcome betrays a deep embarrassment that they are lumbered with a Prime Minister that they are ashamed of because of his double standards over parties in Downing Street.

“It is difficult to change Prime Minister in the midst of an international crisis when we should be focusing on assisting the people of Ukraine but he should have been gone long before now.”

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford described Ross as "spineless".

He said: "This is an utterly humiliating U-turn for Douglas Ross. Only a few weeks ago he was categorical that Boris Johnson should be removed from Downing Street over his repeated rule-breaking. Now apparently he will roll out the carpet for the Prime Minister at the Scottish Conservative conference and pretend that the no-confidence letter that he submitted with such fanfare never happened.

“And of course, the entire Tory MSP group at Holyrood backed Douglas Ross in his demand that Boris Johnson quit - so they will no doubt be furious that he has marched them up a hill and now left them looking ridiculous. And the Tories’ weasel words that this isn’t the time to pursue such issues is beyond hypocritical – this time last year they tabled a no-confidence motion in the First Minister in the midst of a raging pandemic.

“It is ironic that having tried to get his boss removed from office, spineless Douglas Ross has ended up catastrophically undermining his own position – and is no doubt on borrowed time as the apparent ‘leader’ of the Scottish Tories.”