Douglas Ross resigns from government over Dominic Cummings scandal
Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross has resigned from the UK Government as Under Secretary of State for Scotland over the Dominic Cummings saga.
Ross, who became a junior minister at the Scotland Office after he was re-elected as MP for Moray in December last year, said: “Events over the last few days mean I can no longer serve as a member of this government.”
“I haven't commented publicly on the situation with Dominic Cummings as I have waited to hear the full details. I welcome the statement to clarify matters, but there remains aspects of the explanation which I have trouble with. As a result I have resigned as a government minister,” Ross tweeted.
Cummings, Boris Johnson’s special advisor, has admitted to breaking lockdown rules to drive 260 miles from London to his family’s home in Durham after his wife fell ill, and then taking a 60-mile roundtrip from Durham to Barnard Castle to test whether his eyesight was good enough to drive to London.
He said he had “no regrets” about his decision to drive to Durham, because he needed to be near family to care for his young child, and he did not offer to resign.
Ross said the decisions that Cummings took were in the best interests of his family, “however, these were decisions many others felt not available to them”.
“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,” Ross said in a statement.
“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loves 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 advisor to the government was right.
“This is not a decision I have reached quickly. I have waited to hear all the information and thought long and hard over this. I realise both the immediate and long-term implications of my decision to resign from government.”
Ross was the first Scottish Conservative politician to speak on the matter, with pressure increasing on leader Jackson Carlaw to address the situation.
On Tuesday Carlaw retweeted Ross’ resignation statement and wrote: “Great loss to the Scotland Office and UK Government, sorry to see him go but entirely respect and understand his decision. I know he will continue to be an excellent MP for Moray as we all seek to tackle this health crisis.”
Carlaw then issued a statement, where he said: “This is a difficult situation for many, and people will arrive at different judgements.”
Scottish Tory MSP Adam Tomkins also weighed in as Ross resigned, and called for Cummings’ resignation, tweeting: “To lose @Douglas4Moray from Government is a disaster. His was one of clearest voices for the Union in Government. It shows exactly why Cummings should be sacked. I suspect others will follow where Douglas has led.”
In a recent interview with Holyrood, Ross said the pandemic had “been difficult for my parents, my son will be 14 months next week and it's their first grandchild, we've been doing a lot on Facetime but it's not the same and they're only six miles away, but the restrictions are there for everyone.”