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Tue, 29 September 2020

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Tory MP Douglas Ross set to launch bid to lead Scottish Tories after Jackson Carlaw calls it quits

Tory MP Douglas Ross set to launch bid to lead Scottish Tories after Jackson Carlaw calls it quits

Douglas Ross is viewed as a rising star in the Conservative Party. (Parliament)

2 min read

Tory MP Douglas Ross looks set to throw his hat into the ring to lead the Scottish Conservatives following the resignation of Jackson Carlaw.

Fellow parliamentarian John Lamont told Times Radio that Mr Ross — the only minister to resign amid a row over Dominic Cummings’ controversial lockdown trip to Durham — would be “confirming later today” that he would like to lead the party in Scotland.

The move comes after Mr Carlaw, who was only elected to lead the Scottish Tories in February this year, said he had come to the "painful conclusion" that he was not the "best placed" candidate to lead the party.

In a statement, Mr Carlaw said: "Nothing is more important to me than making the case for Scotland's place in the United Kingdom.

"I believe the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party is the most important voice in Scotland for setting out that positive argument. I am clear that nothing must get in the way of doing so.”

Mr Ross was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, and switched to Westminster at last year’s election when he defeated the SNP’s then-deputy leader Angus Robertson to become the MP for Moray.

The 37-year-old is viewed as a rising star in the party, and became a minister in the Scotland Office in the wake of Boris Johnson’s election victory last year.

But he quit the government payroll in May after saying he could not tell voters they “were all wrong and one senior adviser to the Government was right” amid fierce criticism of Mr Cummings, the top Number 10 aide, over his decision to travel to Durham at the height of the national lockdown.

Speaking to Times Radio on Friday morning, Mr Lamont said of his parliamentary colleague: “Douglas will be confirming, later today that he would like to be a candidate in the contest.”

The hunt for a new Scottish Tory leader comes less than a year before the May 2021 elections to the Scottish Parliament, with the incumbent SNP polling strongly and support for Scottish independence climbing.

Mr Lamont said of Mr Ross: “I think he has not only the skills to unite the Conservative Party in Scotland but also, more importantly, the skills to unite the unionist vote in Scotland which is currently fragmented between a number of different parties. 

“One of the strengths of the SNP is they are able to consolidate most of the nationalist vote behind them.”

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