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Rishi Sunak unable to name any of Douglas Ross’s frontbench team

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross had endured a frosty relationship with Boris Johnson in No10, but was due to meet Mr Sunak during his trip north of the Border.

But when asked by journalists if he could name four of the Scottish Tory front bench, which is the second largest party in Holyrood, Mr Sunak said he had been in Scotland “six times in the last 12 months” and met with Mr Ross and “multiple members of this team” during that period.

But did not mention any of the shadow cabinet by name.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who accompanied the Prime Minister in a visit to Aberdeenshire to announce support for new oil and gas licensing as well as funding for carbon capture and storage, jumped to Mr Sunak’s defence to say the question was “unfair” due to a recent “reshuffle”.

The reshuffle in June saw Tory MSPs Jamie Greene and Stephen Kerr dropped from their roles as justice and education spokesmen while Sue Webber’s position as drugs policy spokeswoman was cut to expand the health brief.

Mr Sunak responded to the question: “I think … I’m seeing them all next door, actually… their team … I think … I’ve probably been here six times in the last twelve months and I’ve seen Douglas and met multiple members of this team during that period.”

Following Mr Jack’s comments, he added: “He’s literally just had a reshuffle, which is why I don’t want to … but I don’t think anyone can say I’m not committed to working with Douglas when I’ve been here six times in the past 12 months, I’m seeing him again today.

“And whether it’s on things like DRS (deposit return scheme) or on things like supporting the North Sea industry, these are topics that the Scottish Conservatives have put forward and have pushed for, and they were right to do so, and they are making a meaningful difference to people’s lives in Scotland, and I work with him and his team to do that.”

The Prime Minister also met with Mr Ross, who is also an MP, at Westminster after taking up the post.

Mr Ross said that is had been “fantastic to join the Prime Minister at the St Fergus gas plant near Peterhead”, pointing to his “really exciting announcements on carbon capture and storage and new drilling licences”.

He added: “Together these give us energy security and help our drive to net zero.”

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