Douglas Ross received a birthday card from Boris Johnson as part of a Number 10 charm offensive only days after urging the Prime Minister to quit.
The Telegraph understands that Mr Johnson sent a card to the Scottish Tory leader featuring a picture of the Number 10 door on the front. Inside was a handwritten message to Mr Ross, wishing him a happy birthday.
Tory insiders said the Moray MP was “pleased to receive all birthday messages”, but the card raised eyebrows among his team given his strained relations with Mr Johnson.
Mr Ross celebrated his 39th birthday on Jan 27, a fortnight after becoming the first senior Tory figure to demand that the Prime Minister resign over “partygate”.
The Scottish Tory leader and the Prime Minister held an angry 15-minute phone conversation on Jan 12, in which Mr Ross made clear that he did not accept Mr Johnson’s claim that he did not realise a gathering he attended during the first Covid lockdown in May 2020 was a party.
Mr Ross also confirmed that he had sent a letter to the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers calling for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
Card was part of wider charm offensive
Jacob Rees-Mogg then toured broadcast studios, claiming that Mr Ross was a political “lightweight” and not a “big figure” in the Conservative Party.
Since then, it is understood that the Scottish Tory leader has been ignored by the Prime Minister’s allies at Westminster. However, the card arrived at his constituency office in Forres.
It was sent as part of a wider Downing Street charm offensive aimed at wooing Tory MPs, which started recently but pre-dated the crescendo of demands that Mr Johnson resign over Downing Street parties held during lockdown.
The Prime Minister has been sending them handwritten cards for major events including weddings and the birth of children and grandchildren.
The Telegraph understands that other MPs weighing up whether and when to submit letters to the 1922 committee have also recently received cards with a message from Mr Johnson.
One said that they thought it was a nice touch and they thought it would make a nice memento, but it would not affect their decision on whether to call for a vote of no confidence.
Scottish Tory MPs told this newspaper they had received hundreds of emails and letters from constituents furious about the parties held in Downing Street during lockdown, with many warning they would not vote Conservative again while Mr Johnson remained leader.
Another wave of correspondence arrived in their inboxes on Monday night and Tuesday after protestors targeted Sir Keir Starmer as he left parliament.
Mr Johnson clinging onto power would create a difficult situation for Mr Ross, with some of the Prime Minister’s allies warning he would have to quit as Scottish Tory leader.
It is understood Mr Ross will tackle head on his future relationship with Mr Johnson in a speech shortly, possibly his keynote address to the Scottish Tory conference next month.