Douglas Ross to resign as leader of Scottish Conservatives

Douglas Ross

Written by Mary McCool, BBC Scotland News, and reported by David Wallace Lockhart, BBC Scotland Political Correspondent.

Douglas Ross stated that he could not manage three positions simultaneously, namely as an MSP, MP, and party leader.

Douglas Ross has made it known that he will step down from his position as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

He plans to continue with his responsibilities until the election concludes, and if he successfully wins a seat in Westminster, he will step down as an MSP.

There has been a dispute regarding Mr Ross's candidacy for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East. He has been selected instead of David Duguid, who has been hospitalized and was essentially removed from the running.

According to Mr Ross' statement, he initially believed he could simultaneously hold positions as an MSP, MP, and party leader. However, after careful consideration, he has come to the conclusion that such a scenario is not practical.

He was the sole member of the Scottish Parliament to simultaneously hold a position as a Member of Parliament during the present term of the Holyrood, which was terminated upon the dissolution of the UK Parliament.

The Banff and Buchan parliamentary seat was held by Mr. Duguid since 2017. He was already selected by local party members before the recent controversy and he refutes claims that he is gravely ill.

According to sources from the Scottish Conservative party, Mr. Ross has recognized that his colleagues within the party would not tolerate him holding positions as both an MP and an MSP. This was reported to BBC News on Monday.

They stated that the response to his declaration of intentions to run in lieu of Mr. Duguid was another contributing attribute.

The region has been renamed to Aberdeenshire North and Moray East in recent times.

Mr. Ross spoke to BBC News and revealed that his colleagues conveyed their discomfort with his choice to run over the weekend.

He stated that he had to decide quickly and that the party executives had to make tough choices about removing Mr. Duguid from the race.

Ross: My coworkers feel uneasy about me running for Parliament.

He expressed his happiness and appreciation for receiving the endorsement of community members to run as their representative.

However, I am aware that the situations of being a party leader, MP, and MSP have varied during the past three years. Therefore, I want to assure the people of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East that if they choose me as their local representative, I will prioritize them above all else and dedicate my complete attention to their needs.

When asked if he had handled the situation poorly, Mr. Ross stated that in retrospect, things could have been done differently. He also stated that he would be stepping down as party leader. This decision was made because he believed it was the best course of action given the circumstances.

Over the weekend, Mr Ross faced some difficulties as the Sunday Mail published an article stating that his advisors expressed worries about 28 travel claims he made while also working as a football linesman.

According to him, the expenses had already been given the green light by the independent parliamentary organization IPSA and he wouldn't mind if they were looked at again for review.

Last year in August, there was a game between Hearts and Partick Thistle where Mr Ross played the role of an assistant referee.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, stated that he appreciated his collaboration with Mr Ross, but acknowledged and accepted his choice to resign from the position.

He stated that the individual has been unwavering in their support of the union, and the two of them have collaborated to establish two freeports in Scotland, which have brought in a significant amount of employment opportunities and investments. Additionally, they have stood against the SNP's flawed reforms regarding gender recognition and have proudly advocated for Scotland's north sea energy sector, making them the only political party to consistently prioritize this industry.

In my opinion, Douglas has achieved a commendable history and should take pride in it.

Mr. Ross was elected as the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Highlands and Islands through the list method in the year 2016.

After Jackson Carlaw's sudden departure, he was swiftly appointed as the head of the Scottish Conservatives in August of last year.

According to Mr. Carlaw, the party requires a "more youthful and vibrant perspective" to oversee their efforts in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election.

During that time, Mr Ross was considered a trusted supporter of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had a discussion with him not long after becoming the leader. It's worth noting that despite being against Brexit during the EU referendum, he remained as an advocate for Johnson.

Nevertheless, there were instances when he expressed disapproval towards Boris Johnson's management.

Prior to becoming the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, he stepped down from his position as a minister in the Scotland Office. This was due to the fact that Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's advisor, refused to resign after taking a trip from London to Durham while lockdown measures were in place.

During the month of January in the year 2022, Mr. Ross decided to retract his support for Boris Johnson. He expressed that Mr. Johnson's stance had reached a point where it could no longer be sustained, particularly concerning the lockdown parties. Mr. Ross also urged for a vote of no-confidence.

Later on, he switched his stance when the conflict in Ukraine commenced. He stated that any disturbance in the domestic political situation would benefit Vladimir Putin.

In a surprising turn of events, Mr. Ross ultimately supported the vote of no confidence in Mr. Johnson's leadership despite initially being against it.

When a leader of a political party declares their intention to step down during an ongoing election campaign, it's a clear indication that something has gone terribly awry.

Douglas Ross took over as the candidate for his party in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East during the general election because David Duguid was hospitalized.

A few people were concerned about how it would look if the leader of the party came to help when a fellow member was sick.

However, what did not sit well with Conservative MSPs at Holyrood was the proposal to persist in serving as both an MP and an MSP.

Previously, Douglas Ross made a pledge that he would not engage in that particular action.

Last week, a Scottish Conservative colleague told me that the feedback was incredibly negative, with one individual describing it as being as unpleasant as a bucket of cold vomit.

If he gets elected to Westminster again, Mr. Ross will exit Holyrood. A few of his colleagues believe that's where his true passion has always lied.

He experienced increased pressure during the weekend which could have been amplified by the news article regarding his expenses.

The choice he made will also have an effect on the campaign throughout the United Kingdom. Rishi Sunak did not anticipate his Scottish leader resigning during the period leading up to the vote.

On Friday, the official list of individuals running for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East region was made public.

Ian Bailey is running as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats political party, Andy Brown is representing the Labour party, Jo Hart is running for Reform UK, Seamus Logan is the candidate for the SNP party, and Douglas Ross is standing for the Conservatives.

After Mr Ross made his statement, the leader of the SNP, John Swinney, criticized him, saying that he was not valuing the voters and showing disrespect towards them.

He stated that he desires to have it in accordance with his own conditions.

In politics, you have to abide by the wishes of the voters. It's a universally respected principle. Ultimately, it is the voters who hold the power to make the decisions.

According to Alba's leader, Alex Salmond, the recent situation where a rat fled a sinking ship while attempting to jump aboard a gravy train was unparalleled.

He requested that Mr. Ross step down as a candidate for the Westminster constituency, stating that he had no sense of integrity.

Jackie Baillie, the deputy leader of Scottish Labour, extended good wishes to Mr. Ross for his future endeavors but focused her critiques towards the Conservative party and the government of the United Kingdom.

She stated that the citizens are well aware that the current Tory administration is useless in providing anything beneficial to Scotland. It's not surprising that Douglas Ross has decided to give up on boosting the Scottish Tories' faltering campaign.

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, expressed that this decision shows that the party is experiencing severe turmoil.

He stated that the Conservative Party, similar to the Scottish National Party, has remained in control for an extended period, disregarding regulations and assuming your loyalty.

During an interview with BBC News, Lorna Slater, who is the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, expressed that it has always been unclear as to what Mr. Ross' main area of focus was while carrying out tasks as an MSP, an MP and a football linesman.

In simpler terms, she stated that the Conservative Party, both in the UK and Scotland, is in a bad state and unlikely to recover. This means that whoever becomes the leader of the Scottish branch of the party will have a difficult job with little reward.

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