New Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross promises to ‘stand up’ to Boris Johnson as meeting with Ruth Davidson revealed
Douglas Ross said he would speak up on issues where the UK government could ‘do better’. (PA)
Douglas Ross has promised to “stand up” to Boris Johnson as leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
The party’s new chief, who was crowned leader on Wednesday following the resignation of Jackson Carlaw, said he would challenge decisions made at Westminster as well as Holyrood.
And he promised to talk up the “integral and strong place” Scotland has in the United Kingdom amid rising support in the polls for independence.
The comments came as the Daily Record reported that Mr Ross, currently the MP for Moray, held talks with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson in the days before Mr Carlaw resigned.
Labour urged Ms Davidson — who will fill in for Mr Carlaw at first minister’s questions until she takes up a seat in the House of Lords — to “give a full account of what was discussed”.
Mr Ross made headlines earlier this year after he resigned his job as a Scotland Office minister in protest Number 10 aide Dominic Cummings’ controversial lockdown trip to Durham.
He told Times Radio: “I watched Mr Cummings’s press conference and there were a number of issues that I still had concerns over.
“As a government minister, I would have been expected to go out and support that through collective responsibility, I felt I couldn’t do it.
“And in all honesty, to my constituents, and the people who elected me, I chose to resign from government to make my position clear on that.”
He said: “People across Scotland want a leader of the Scottish Conservatives who will work with the UK government in the best interests of Scotland, but also stand up to them if there are issues that we can do better.”
Asked whether the Prime Minister was a “great asset” to the Tories in Scotland, Mr Ross said: “The prime minister is the leader of the UK government and the UK government is investing, levelling up across the UK.
“When he was up in Scotland last week he was announcing the growth deal for the islands of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland that shows direct investment that’s coming from the UK government to these communities.
“And we’ve seen through this pandemic £13 billion of support coming to businesses, communities and individuals in Scotland as a result of the decisions taken by this prime minister, this chancellor and this UK government.
“That is a strong message to remind people the strength of Scotland’s integral and strong place as part of the broad shouldered union of the United Kingdom.”
'TEA AND CRUMPETS'
The Daily Record reported that Ms Davidson held a meeting with Mr Ross at his house in Moray days before Mr Carlaw, who quit after just six months in the job, announced his resignation.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay told the paper: “It looks like Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross were hatching a plan to do in Jackson Carlaw over tea and crumpets in Moray.
“They should give a full account of what was discussed at this secret meeting.”
The SNP, which looks set for another victory at next year’s Holyrood elections, has meanwhile branded Mr Ross “Boris Johnson’s man in Scotland”.
Depute leader Keith Brown said: “Westminster has launched a total takeover of the Scottish Tories and installed a Brexit-backing MP to act as a puppet for Downing Street.
"As his Westminster voting record proves, Mr Ross couldn't be more out of touch with Scotland.”
And he added: "Whatever else we’ve learned in this whole grubby coup, and whatever their bluster, senior Tories are now effectively conceding publicly what they have been saying privately for some time - they know there is going to be an independence referendum. Otherwise why bother changing leaders?“