The Scottish Conservatives have been told to “grow a backbone” after its party chairman refused to condemn “grotesque and abhorrent” comments made by the Home Secretary about immigration.

Tory Home Secretary Suella Braverman caused anger after claiming the “misguided dogma of multiculturalism” had “failed because it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it”.

She also suggested that being persecuted for being a woman or gay was not sufficient grounds to seek asylum.

She said: “We will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.”

The Herald: Home Secretary Suella BravermanHome Secretary Suella Braverman (Image: PA)

But chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, Craig Hoy, refused to condemn and distance himself from the comments, when pressed repeatedly by The Herald.

Mr Hoy said it was expected that both Labour and the Conservatives would “be setting out their stall” ahead of the general election.

He said: “I think there's obviously a lot of context to be put around the language on some of the big defining election issues.

“But actually, if you look at the UK Government's fundamental pledge on migration and immigration, it is to tackle what is a very real problem, which is small boats that are coming into the UK shores and the people traffickers who are making money out of misery.

“I think that's the language that I would put around that.

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“We recognise that in an election year, both of the parties, Labour and the Conservatives, will be setting out their stall in the way the parties do at election periods.”

Asked specifically if he would condemn Ms Braverman’s comments that multiculturalism has failed, Mr Hoy stressed “context” was needed around the claims.

He said: “I wouldn't characterise it in those terms, but in certain parts of the country, you've got to look at the context.

“And I think on the question of immigration and migration, I think what the Prime Minister set out is quite clearly a process.

“If you look, for example, at the number of people that come to the UK recently be it from Ukraine, Hong Kong or Afghanistan, we all strive to create a multicultural Britain, a multicultural Scotland.

“The best way to do that is to open up legal safe routes into the country.

“And I don't think anybody is served by pretending that there isn't a problem in relation to illegal immigration.”

Mr Hoy added: “We need to recognise that Scotland needs migration, and it needs to get the right skills, the right people coming here.

“But actually, even with record numbers of migrants coming to the UK, they're not coming to Scotland. So the questions in this whole debate for the Scottish Government as well.”

Mr Hoy was asked specifically if he would distance himself from Ms Braverman’s comments that being persecuted for being gay wasn’t enough of a reason to seek asylum.

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He said: “You'd have to look at her remarks in the round and in relation to the UK Government's policies.

“And I think what is quite clear is that there is nobody who doesn’t want this country to have open safe routes to bring people who are coming from countries.”

SNP MSP, Jackie Dunbar, said it was “time Craig Hoy and the rest of the Scottish Tories grew a backbone and called out these disgraceful comments from the Home Secretary”, warning that “otherwise, they will be remembered for being on the wrong side of history”.

She added: “In Scotland, we are proud of our vibrant multicultural society.

“As we face the looming climate crisis, which will undoubtedly see many more people forced to flee their homelands, there can be no space for small-minded politics and intolerance.

“We all have a global responsibility to provide asylum and a safe place for those fleeing war, disaster and unimaginable persecution for being who they want to be.

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“Scotland wants no part to play in the hostile environment the Tories have created with her morally bankrupt immigration policies and will always hold the door open for those seeking safety.”

Scottish Greens human rights spokesperson, Maggie Chapman, said: "Suella Braverman’s comments this week were some of the most grotesque and abhorrent ever made by a UK Government minister. It was reminiscent of Enoch Powell and the politics of hate.

“We need to break from an increasingly xenophobic and extreme Tory government that is determined to strip the remaining humanity from the asylum system as part of its disgraceful culture war."