A PROMINENT SNP MP has denied money has been wasted on the CalMac ferries fiasco despite the project currently running £150 million over budget. 

Cabinet Office spokesperson Stewart Hosie also described the two boats as “a little late” when they are currently five years behind schedule.

The Dundee East MP was accused of "living on a different planet" after he made the comments on BBC Two’s Politics Live Show today.

The state-owned ferry owner Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) ordered the two ferries from the Ferguson Marine shipyard on the Clyde in October 2015.

They were supposed to be delivered for a fixed price of £97m and be delivered to the state-owned ferry operator CalMac in May and July 2018.

The contract proved a disaster, with over-runs, arguments over design changes and money, leading to the yard going broke and being nationalised in 2019.

It has since emerged that ministers pushed ahead with the deal despite CMAL warning the normal refund guarantees were not in place - and the key piece of paperwork confirming this is missing.

The two ferries are now expected to cost around £250m together and are due to be delivered by April 2023 and December 2023 respectively.

Mr Hosie was asked about Labour saying the Scottish Government would have more money to help people with the cost of living if it hadn’t “wasted £250m on failed ferry contracts”.

He said: “This is the same Labour party who were demanding we save the Ferguson’s shipyard. We’ve saved the Ferguson’s shipyard. 

“It is immensely disappointing that for a variety of reasons these ferries are behind time and over-budget, but they’re being built, and right now all the islands are being serviced by ferries. These ferries will see service, albeit a little late.

“I think the Labour party really need to get consistent.

“It’s that kind of attack for the sake of the line that they keep coming out with that led them to their second worst ever council result last Thursday.”

Presenter Jo Coburn replied: “In terms of being over budget, you have wasted that money.”

Mr Hosie said: “Well, the money’s not wasted. The ferries will see the light of day.”

Asked when they would see the light of day, Mr Hosie replied: “I’m hoping they’ll see service as quickly as humanly possible, but don’t misunderstand me, it is - and I’ll be gentle here - inordinately disappointing that they haven’t been completed on time so far.”

Scottish Tory transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “Stewart Hosie must be living on a different planet. Islanders who have been left abandoned waiting on these ferries will be outraged and stunned at his dismissive comments.

“The SNP have presided over a ferries fiasco yet still senior representatives in the party won’t take any responsibility for their shambolic failures.

“Budgets have spiralled out of control and ferries being at least five years late cannot be described as a little delay.

“The SNP have let down our island communities at every turn, yet are still failing to be transparent.

“That is why the Scottish Conservatives will led a debate in Parliament this week on the ferries scandal to hold Ministers to account and urge them to finally come clean.”

Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said: "It's not good enough for senior SNP members to be so blasé about the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds.

"This is money that could have paid for several new high schools or to reverse the vast cuts that the SNP have inflicted on local governments.

"Meanwhile island communities have been left high and dry because they're reliant on boats that should have been retired years ago. I can't see why anyone would trust the SNP to get an industrial project right."

Tory MSP Sharon Dowey said Mr Hosie was "in cloud cuckoo land" and give years was not a little late but "an insult to Scotland's island residents".

She tweeted: "It's like saying a quarter of a billion £ is a bit of spare change, which is exactly how much taxpayers' money Stewart's party have wasted on this sorry saga."