Tory turmoil

Douglas Ross resigns as Scottish Tory leader

Douglas-Ross-outside-parliament
Douglas Ross: standing down (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is to stand down after the general election and if he is elected to Westminster he will quit as an an MSP.

There was a call for him to resign immediately as opposition MSPs tore into his record in parliament.

Mr Ross made the announcement following controversy over his decision to displace the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency candidate David Duguid. He is also embroiled in claims over his travel expenses which he denies.

It is believed to be the first time that a political leader in the UK has resigned during a general election campaign. The fall-out came after an internal backlash against his decision to stand again for Westminster, reversing his previous stance.

In a statement, Mr Ross said: “I have served as MP, MSP and Leader for over three years now and believed I could continue to do so if re-elected to Westminster, but on reflection, that is not feasible.

“I am committed to fighting and winning the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency.  Should I be given the honour to represent the people and communities of this new seat, they should know being their MP would receive my complete focus and attention.

“I will therefore stand down as Leader following the election on July 4th, once a successor is elected. Should I win the seat, I will also stand down as an MSP to make way for another Scottish Conservative representative in Holyrood. 

“My party has a chance to beat the SNP in key seats up and down Scotland, including in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East. We must now come together and fully focus on doing exactly that.”

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie said “I wish Douglas Ross the best of luck in the future. It’s clear that this divided and chaotic Tory party is out of time and out of ideas.

“Voters know that this rotten Tory government has nothing to offer Scotland – it’s no wonder Douglas Ross has given up on trying to resuscitate the Scottish Tories’ flailing campaign.”

SNP candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East Seamus Logan said: “Douglas Ross must resign as an MSP today. It’s clear he’s been forced out as Scottish Tory leader after his shameful behaviour over David Duguid and his growing expenses scandal. Voters deserve a dedicated MSP – not one who is hedging his bets in case he loses the  election.”

In a strongly-worded statement that held nothing back, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, said: “At times like these it is customary to say something conciliatory about a departing MSP, but Douglas Ross has been perhaps the worst leader in the Scottish Tories’ history and the Scottish Parliament and indeed, Scottish politics, will be well rid of him.

Patrick Harvie: ‘Mr Ross has shown contempt for his constituents and the parliament’

“He embodies everything that is wrong with the Tory party in his anti-environment, anti-equality, anti-democratic pursuit of self interest, epitomised by his ill-judged swoop for David Duguid’s Westminster seat even while he recovers from serious illness. 

“The fact he only now accepts that he must resign his seat as an MSP if he is returned to the House of Commons shows the utter contempt with which he holds his constituents and the Scottish Parliament. 

“It’s not just Douglas Ross that we need to be rid of, it is the divisive, reactionary and prejudiced politics that he represents.

“It is clear that Douglas Ross has lost the dressing room, but it’s important that the voters take the chance to show the whole Tory Party the red card.”

Former First Minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said: “This is the first case of a rat deserting a sinking ship whilst simultaneously trying to clamber aboard a gravy train.

“Douglas Ross requires to resign as candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray Easy where he stabbed David Duguid in the back. 

“Ross is totally devoid of honour. “

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