Douglas Ross has announced his intention to stand in the Scottish Conservatives’ leadership contest.
It follows Thursday’s shock resignation of Jackson Carlaw, who said that he believed that a new leader would be able to “make the case for the Scottish Conservatives and the Union better than me”.
Announcing his bid on Friday morning, Mr Ross said: “This is a crucial time in Scottish politics.
“We are months away from an important election, and need strong, decisive leadership of our party to take on and defeat the SNP in seats right across the country.”
If successful, he will seek election as an MSP in the May Holyrood elections, with former leader Ruth Davidson agreeing to stand-in at First Minister’s Questions until then.
Jackson has been a friend and colleague for many years and I’ve enjoyed working with him in my time as a councillor, MP and MSP. It was a difficult decision for him to stand down but one I respect and know he will continue to play a positive role for our party. https://t.co/kdbcb7Womu pic.twitter.com/Zy0hnRiXbZ
— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) July 30, 2020
Mr Ross became MP for Moray in 2017, taking the constituency from then SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson – another who may be standing in May’s Holyrood election.
He was briefly an MSP, winning a regional list seat for the Highlands and Islands in 2016 prior to moving to Westminster.
He backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, but now backs Boris Johnson to deliver Brexit.
Mr Ross is also a qualified football referee, and has had a long career as a linesman in Scottish games as well as international fixtures.
His time spent in that role led to criticism that he was missing committee meetings and votes in parliament, and he later reduced the number of refereeing appointments he was taking.
Mr Ross also came under fire in 2017 for saying that, if he were prime minister for a day, his number one priority would be “tougher enforcement against Gypsy Travellers”.
He apologised, saying he did not have time to provide context in a “quick-fire interview” but insisted it was an issue that should be debated.
Mr Ross was appointed a junior Scotland Office minister following the 2019 election, but quit in May over the Dominic Cummings scandal.
The explanations given by Mr Cummings for travelling during lockdown and the defence mounted by colleagues led to Mr Ross stepping down, saying: “I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior advisor to the government was right”.
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) July 31, 2020
As well as the backing of Ruth Davidson, Mr Ross has been supported by Scottish Tory MP John Lamont.
He tweeted: “As his friend, flatmate, occasional running buddy and colleague, there’s no doubt I’ll be backing @Douglas4Moray to be the next leader of @ScotTories
“He certainly has what it takes to lead our party and to stop Nicola Sturgeon and her obsession with Independence. #Douglas4Leader”
Former Tory MP Ross Thomson also took to social media to say: “.@Douglas4Moray
is hugely talented. He’ll bring a new energy to our fight back against the SNP, reinvigorate our campaign to protect Scotland’s place in the UK and reach out to new voters. But most importantly he’s a really good guy. Delighted to support #Douglas4Leader ”
But Labour’s Monica Lennon tweeted: “Leadership? Not a word about COVID-19, that’s killed thousands of people and destroyed the health and livelihoods of many more. Or the poorest who have suffered the most.
“Of course the Tories want a divisive figure like Douglas Ross. They have no interest in healing our nation.”