Douglas Ross has resigned from the Government over the Dominic Cummings controversy.
The Moray MP, who had served as a junior Scotland Office minister since December, announced his resignation on social media.
He said that there was much he “still hoped to do in this role” but that “events over the last few days mean I can no longer serve as a member of this Government.”
The resignation of Mr Ross comes as the fall-out from allegations that Boris Johnson’s top aide broke lockdown rules continues.
Mr Ross said he could not “in good faith” tell his constituents who could not care for sick relatives or say goodbye to dying ones while obeying lockdown rules that Mr Cummings acted appropriately.
The first resignation over the allegations rocking the Government came as Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove sought to defend his longstanding ally.
Mr Ross said that “while the intentions may have been well-meaning”, Mr Cummings’ interpretation of the rules was “not shared by the vast majority of people”.
“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the Government,” the Tory MP for Moray wrote.
“I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the Government was right.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister would like to thank Douglas Ross for his service to government and regrets his decision to stand down as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland.”
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 https://t.co/cLeOANdYYc
— Jackson Carlaw MSP (@Jackson_Carlaw) May 26, 2020
Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said: “I accept Douglas’ position and respect the decision he has come to.
“This is a difficult situation for many, and people will arrive at different judgements.
“Douglas will be a huge loss to government and I thank him for all he’s done at the Scotland Office.
“I am in no doubt that he will continue to serve his Moray constituents with diligence and commitment, as he has done since first being elected.”
Tory MSP Adam Tomkins reacted to the news on social media, 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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/6yXLyMzItJ
— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) May 26, 2020
The full statement from Douglas Ross
“I have just tendered my resignation from the UK Government and my position as Under Secretary of State for Scotland.
“Following my re-election as MP for Moray last December, I was honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to join his Government and take on this role in the Scotland Office.
“It is a position I have relished and one I’ve committed to wholeheartedly since my appointment.
“There was much I still hoped to do in this role but events over the last few days mean I can no longer serve as a member of this Government.
“I have never met Dominic Cummings so my judgment on this matter has always been open and I accept his statement on Monday afternoon clarified the actions he took in what he felt were the best interests of his family. However, these were decisions many others felt were not available to them.
“As a father myself, my instinct is to always do what is best for my son and wife. We have been fortunate not to have caught this awful virus but, if we did, we are prepared to follow the government advice and stay at home to contain this virus.
“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.
“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved 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 adviser to the Government was right.
“This is not a decision I have reached quickly. I have waited to hear all of 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.
“While it has been a great privilege to serve as a minister, my first duty is to be a representative and I feel I can best represent my Moray constituents and many across the country who have expressed their feelings about this by resigning as a minister.
“I look forward to continuing to stand up for the people of Moray from the back benches.”