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Minister resigns

Carlaw joins call for Cummings to go as Ross quits

Douglas Ross

Resigned: Douglas Ross says adviser’s view does not chime with majority

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw finally yielded to pressure to demand the Prime Minister’s chief adviser leaves his post after junior minister Douglas Ross quit over the scandal.

Mr Ross, Under Secretary of State for Scotland, said Dominic Cummings’ view on lockdown guidance is ‘not shared by the vast majority’.

His decision prompted one SNP MP to say Mr Ross’s decision had become a test of Mr Carlaw’s leadership. The Tory leader initially refused to join calls for Mr Cummings to go, but later made it clear in an interview that Mr Cummings had become a distraction and should leave.

“It is absolutely a matter for the prime minister himself who serves him and for how long they serve – but given the furore, given the distraction we are now in, given the distraction to the prime minister onto this issue, if I were Mr Cummings I would be considering my position,” he told STV News.

His party office did not release a statement to this effect.

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Announcing his own resignation, Mr Ross, MP for Moray, said: “While the intentions may have been well meaning, the reaction to this news shows that Mr Cummings interpretation of the government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the government asked.

“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government.

“I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right.”

Mr Cummings yesterday gave a statement explaining his decision to drive 250 miles to visit his parents in Durham and later make a 30-mile day trip to Barnard Castle.

He claimed he was testing his eyesight for the return journey to London. Despite concerns over his sight he was accompanied by his wife and four-year-old son.

This afternoon, Graham Simpson the Tory MSP and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Communities and Social Security, said Mr Cummings should go.

Ian Murray, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “Douglas was a fair and reasonable minister who has done the decent thing and resigned from a government that is out of control.

“Integrity has been sadly lacking from this government, especially over the last 72 hours, so I commend him for making this difficult decision.

“He understands that it’s not acceptable to have one rule for Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, another for everybody else.

This is a difficult situation for many, and people will arrive at different judgements

– Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservatives

“Douglas has shown more integrity than Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw and other UK Government ministers who have defended the indefensible and couldn’t be more out of touch with the people of Scotland and the UK.”

Mr Carlaw said: “I accept Douglas’ position and respect the decision he has come to.

“This is a difficult situation for many, and people will arrive at different judgements.

“Douglas will be a huge loss to government and I thank him for all he’s done at the Scotland Office.

Jackson Carlaw

Jackson Carlaw: pressure

“I am in no doubt that he will continue to serve his Moray constituents with diligence and commitment, as he has done since first being elected.”

The SNP turned the pressure on Mr Carlaw calling on him to demand the Prime Minister sack Mr Cummings. SNP MP George Adam said: “Jackson Carlaw’s defence of Cummings was tone deaf to begin with. 

“This scandal is a test of leadership which Jackson Carlaw is failing every bit as much as his boss Boris Johnson.

“The public have no confidence in Boris Johnson’s handling of the Dominic Cummings disaster – which has completely undermined public health messaging. 

“It’s time for the Scottish Tories to do the right thing and back the public who’ve followed the guidance – instead of trying to curry favour with Boris Johnson.”

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