Jacob Rees-Mogg has branded the Scottish Conservative leader “a lightweight” after he told Boris Johnson to resign.
Douglas Ross called for Mr Johnson to step down following the prime minister’s admission that he attended a Downing Street party during lockdown in May 2020.
Just hours after the prime minister’s apology to MPs, Mr Ross said the prime minister’s position was “no longer tenable”.
But Mr Rees-Mogg told BBC’s Newsnight: “Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure.”
He said the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, who is supportive of the prime minister, was “much more substantial and important”.
The Commons leader made the remark after brushing aside presenter Kirsty Wark’s statement that Newsnight had been told all 31 Scottish Conservative MSPs believe Boris Johnson should quit.
Earlier, Mr Rees-Mogg told LBC he did not think the Scottish Conservative leader was “a big figure”.
He added: “I don’t think it’s a surprise Douglas Ross takes this view.
“He’s never been a supporter of the prime minister. He has constantly made disobliging comments about the PM.”
Mr Rees-Mogg’s defence came amid a bruising day for Boris Johnson.
The prime minister is facing intense pressure after a leaked email showed around 100 No 10 staff were invited to a drinks gathering in Downing Street’s rose garden on 20 May 2020, while the country was still subject to strict Covid lockdown restrictions.
At PMQs, Mr Johnson apologised for attending the party – but insisted he thought it was a “work event”.
Mr Rees-Mogg also dismissed opinion polls suggesting Boris Johnson should resign yesterday, and said Tory MPs who have called for the PM to go were “people who are always unhappy”.
He told Times Radio: “They are people who have never really supported the prime minister, two of the ones you mentioned have always been quite strongly opposed to him, and therefore you would expect them to be relatively grumpy, and so that’s not surprising.”
He said: “I think they are fundamentally mistaken and they are misjudging where we are and what the Prime Minister has succeeded in doing.”