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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
10 June 2024
Douglas Ross to stand down as Scottish Conservatives leader after the election

Douglas Ross will stand down as leader after the election | Alamy

Douglas Ross to stand down as Scottish Conservatives leader after the election

Douglas Ross will stand down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives after the general election.  

He confirmed that he will stand down following 4 July, once a successor has been chosen.  

It has also been confirmed that he will stand down as an MSP if he is elected to Westminster in the new constituency of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.  

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 4 July, 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.”

Ross had been coming under increasing pressure to make a statement at Holyrood over claims he used his MP expenses to fund travel for his football work.

Ross also works as an SFA linesman.

At the weekend, allegations emerged that he had charged the taxpayer for costs relating to his football job.

The Sunday Mail reported that 28 such claims had been identified by his team, but had been “hushed up by worried aides”.

According to the newspaper, Ross submitted parliamentary expense claims for flights from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh, where he was running the line at football games, but gave officials the impression that he was going back to his Moray constituency.

Last week, Ross announced he would stand for Westminster in the constituency of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, despite previously saying he would stand down at the general election. At a press conference in Edinburgh, he said he would stand in place of David Duguid, who is recovering from illness in hospital.  

The Scottish Conservatives said that the decision to replace Duguid was taken later than hoped by the party's management board due to his ill-health. The former MP has since put out a statement arguing that he was ready to stand for the election.  

When asked by the media why he would stand in place of Duguid rather someone else, Ross said it was down to timing and the party needing “a candidate to fight the seat short notice”. The deadline for nominations closed the following day.  

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.

"On 4th July, voters in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East can show Douglas Ross the door for good by voting SNP to put Scotland's interests first."

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.

"After 14 years of Tory chaos and 17 years of SNP incompetence and scandal, Scotland is crying out for change.

"There is clearly only one party that can take on two failing governments and only one party that now represents change and it is Scottish Labour.

"On July 4, the way to make sure we boot the Tories out of government at last and deliver the change our country needs is by voting Scottish Labour."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: "This is yet more proof of a Conservative party in abject disarray.

"Just like the SNP, the Tories have been in power for too long, breaking rules and taking you for granted. They aren’t focussed on what really matters like fast access to your GP, seeing an NHS dentist, tackling sewage dumping and lifting up Scottish education.

"People all across Scotland have had enough. The Conservatives have got to go and Liberal Democrats are working flat-out to win the change our country desperately needs."

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.
 
"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."

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