Douglas Ross defends plan to stay on at Westminster even if elected to Holyrood
Douglas Ross has said he will stay on as an MP even if elected to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Conservative leader is number one on the party’s Highland and Islands list, which means he’s very likely to be returned to Holyrood in May.
He’s been criticised by the other parties for not standing down as the MP for Moray ahead of the vote.
Labour’s Anas Sarwar said it showed the Tory didn’t have confidence in his own campaign.
Speaking on the first day of campaigning, Ross said: “I will continue as the Member of Parliament for Moray. It’s my home area. It’s the only constituency I’ve ever stood for and I was proud to be elected the MP for Moray in 2017, defeating the then SNP leader at Westminster [Angus Robertson] and to be re-elected in 2019.
“And of course dual mandates are not new. In the first Scottish Parliament in 1999, a number of Scottish Labour MPs stood for Holyrood, were elected and became government ministers and continued to be MPs until the following election in 2001.
“And the SNP have history with a former MP who was an MSP, party leader and First Minister of Scotland. That was actually the SNP policy up until a few months ago when for their own reasons they decided not to allow people to have dual mandates.
“I believe I can continue to be an effective MP for the people of Moray, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Asked what he would do with the extra cash from the additional pay packet, Ross said, “How much will I trouser? Absolutely not a single penny.
“The entirety of my MSP salary will not be taken by me.
“I’ll look at ways to set up a charity as has been done in the past, but I will not benefit financially at all from being both an MP and an MSP.
“For me, it was never about that, it was about continuing to represent the constituents who elected me in 2019, and representing I hope the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Parliament and leading the Scottish Conservatives.”
Asked for his view on Ross's double jobbing, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “All I’ll say is this. It’s not really an expression of confidence.
"Ruth Davidson is vacating the seat and going elsewhere. That’s not an expression of confidence.
"He’s not willing to stand down from his Westminster seat to challenge in the Scottish Parliament. That’s not an expression of confidence.
"I'm expressing confidence in this election."
In Westminster, the SNP’s Alyn Smith tabled a Private Members Bill to outlaw dual mandates.
He said it was about saving Scottish taxpayers “hundreds of thousands”.
He added: “I had to step down as MEP on my election to the UK Parliament and my colleague Neil Gray stood down as an MP before seeking election in the Scottish Parliament. That is right and proper and fair to our constituents.
“It is clear that Douglas Ross doesn’t have the courage to put himself before voters in a Scottish election, and is keeping his MP job as a back-up. This is wrong.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael hit out at the SNP’s hypocrisy:
“Not for the first time it appears that something the SNP were silent about when Alex Salmond did it is now unacceptable to them a few years later.
"They may have a fresh desire to airbrush history but Mr Salmond has the double pension to prove it.
“Double jobbing was wrong when Salmond did it and it is still wrong now. Those paying the price will be the voters. They deserve better than part-time service from their representatives.”