Second Tory clashes with Ross
Ballantyne quits over ‘differences’ with Ross
Michelle Ballantyne: ‘differences’
Former Scottish Conservative party leadership contender Michelle Ballantyne has resigned from the party – the second MSP to clash with the new leader’s policies in the past week.
Ms Ballantyne, who lost out to Jackson Carlaw in last year’s campaign to succeed Ruth Davidson, said there were “differences arising for some in the party’s positioning on policy and, indeed, its principles”.
She indicated that it was the party’s position on travel restrictions being enforced in law that had been her main objection, adding that the party “need to question a lot harder” the government’s approach. The same reason was given for rural affairs spokesman Oliver Mundell’s resignation from the front bench at the weekend.
Ms Ballantyne will see out the remainder of the parliament as an independent.
She said: “It is with great sadness that I have decided to resign today from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
“That said, I recognise and respect the work Douglas, Ruth, and their team are putting in to re-shape the future of the Scottish Conservatives and the Party’s position going forward.
“However, as Douglas indicated in his address to our party conference, there are differences arising for some in the Party’s positioning on policy and, indeed, its principles. Sadly, for me, this means I no longer feel that the Party and I are a good fit.
“I have not taken this decision lightly and I wish both Douglas and Ruth, as well as all my colleagues, the very best going forward.
”I’m looking forward to continuing to represent my constituents across South Scotland as an independent MSP and champion local issues at Holyrood. While I may be leaving the Scottish Conservatives, I am not leaving the Scottish Parliament and my door remains open, as always, to my constituents.”
In a joint statement, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Holyrood group leader Ruth Davidson said: “We would both like to thank Michelle for her service to the Scottish Conservatives down the years.
“As well as her time on Scottish Borders Council and in the Parliament, she has also been an active member of the voluntary party.
“We wish her well for the future.”
The former Scottish Borders councillor entered Holyrood in May 2017 via the South Scotland list after fellow Tory Rachael Hamilton quit to successfully contest a by-election.
She served as the party’s social security spokeswoman, but was dropped from the frontbench team by Mr Carlaw soon after he was voted leader.