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Campaign has been very difficult, says Scottish Tory leader amid Reform warning

Douglas Ross said a vote for Reform UK would allow the SNP ‘in the back door’.

The leader of the Scottish Tories has conceded that the party’s campaign has been “very difficult”, but warned voters against backing Reform UK.

The Conservatives north and south of the border have been under fire in recent weeks over Douglas Ross’s decision to stand in the election in the stead of an ill colleague, the Prime Minister’s decision to leave the D-Day commemorations early and allegations that senior figures bet on the date of the election.

Mr Ross told the BBC that voters moving across to Nigel Farage’s Reform UK in Scotland would result in an easier ride for the SNP.

“It has been very difficult and I’m not going to shy away from that,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Show.

“I put myself forward for interview knowing that a number of these issues will come up.

Rishi Sunak looks thoughtful in a media interview during General Election campaigning
The Prime Minister came under fire for leaving the D-Day commemorations early (Benjamin Cremel/PA)

“But I’m also out on doors, speaking to voters here in the north-east, and across the country, and hearing that they are annoying, upset and disappointed with an SNP government that’s been in charge for 17 years.”

Voters are upset at the Scottish Government’s record on health and education, he said.

Mr Ross announced his decision to stand in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat two weeks ago after former MP David Duguid was ruled out by party bosses over concerns about his health.

The announcement sparked a backlash, including briefings from inside the Scottish Tories to the media, which resulted in Mr Ross saying he would stand down as party leader after the election and would resign as an MSP if he wins the seat.

Despite the troubles his party has faced, the outgoing leader has warned against splitting the vote.

“What (Mr Farage) risks doing here is letting the SNP in,” he said.

“Because in key seats, a vote for Reform will simply let the SNP in the back door and I think people are becoming more and more aware of that, and the risk that they will wake up on July 5 with an SNP politician because Reform votes have allowed that to happen.”

Asked if he was “worried” about Mr Farage’s party, he said a vote split is a “serious issue”.

“There’s not a single opinion poll that has got the Reform party anywhere close to winning a seat anywhere in Scotland, but they can help the SNP get in.”

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