Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland is being treated like “something on the sole of Westminster’s shoe” as she responded to a full blown crisis in the Conservative Party.
She seized the opportunity to attack the UK parliament after Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross was branded a “lightweight” by his own colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The infighting was sparked by Mr Ross’s call for the prime minister to quit for his part in a Downing Street garden party during lockdown restrictions in May 2020.
The PM finally admitted on Wednesday he was at the No10 bash but denied any deliberate wrongdoing and apologised.
Mr Ross was then mocked as a minor figure within the party by Mr Rees-Mogg, while senior Tory MP Michael Gove – originally from Aberdeen – also took a pop at him.
The inner party warfare is a huge gift for the SNP who will view it as a major boost to their campaign for independence.
Ms Sturgeon said the comments from senior MPs showed the “utter contempt” Westminster has for Scotland as she spoke during First Minister’s Questions.
She claimed independence would have the “added benefit” of stopping the coutnry being treated as an afterthought.
The first minister – facing Mr Ross in Holyrood – even claimed he would find that an “attractive proposition”.
The SNP leader told MSPs: “I have big political differences with Douglas Ross, but even I am not as derogatory as his own Tory colleagues are being.
‘Westminster thinks Scotland doesn’t need to be listened to’
“These might be insults directed at the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, but actually, they say something much deeper about the Westminster establishment’s utter contempt for Scotland.
“If they have can’t even show basic respect for their colleagues, what chance do the rest of us have?
“The fact is, Westminster thinks Scotland doesn’t need to be listened to, can be ignored, and now we’re being told we have to thole a Prime Minister that his own colleagues think is not fit for office.
She added: “Independence is fundamentally about power and aspiration. An added benefit is that we’ll no longer have to put up with being treated like something on the sole of Westminster’s shoe.
“I suspect today even Douglas Ross finds that a really attractive proposition.”
Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure.
– Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
On Wednesday, Mr Rees-Mogg claimed on Newsnight that Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack – appointed by Mr Johnson – was a more “substantial” figure.
He said: “The Secretary of State for Scotland, who is a big figure, is very supportive of the Prime Minister.
“Douglas Ross has always been quite a lightweight figure. I think the Scottish Secretary is a much more substantial and important figure.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gove responded to Mr Ross’ resignation plea by commenting that he was in Elgin while the Prime Minister was at Westminster.
Calling for the PM’s resignation earlier on Wednesday, the Scottish Tory chief said: “Regretfully, I have to say that his position is no longer tenable.
“He believes that he didn’t do anything wrong and he has put up a defence for his position but I also have to look at the information in front of me and stick with the position I made quite clear yesterday that if he did attend that party, he couldn’t continue.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer, SNP Westminster boss Ian Blackford, and Lib Dem chief Ed Davey all demanded the Prime Minister quit.