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Ross apologises to Tory voters after ‘not good enough’ few days

The Scottish Tory leader admitted the last few days had been ‘very challenging’ for his party.

Douglas Ross has said sorry to Scottish Conservative voters as the last few days were “not good enough”, after he announced his intention to resign as party leader.

Mr Ross admitted the last few days had been “very challenging” for his party but he had to listen to concerns from fellow Tory MSPs.

The Scottish Tory chief announced on Monday he would step down from the leadership role in Holyrood following a row over his decision to contest the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat at the General Election.

Mr Ross also confirmed he would quit as a Highlands and Islands MSP if he won the seat.

The issue stemmed from the deselection of former Scotland Office minister David Duguid who was told by the party’s management board he could not stand due to ill health, with Mr Ross stepping in.

Ahead of a visit to the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh, which is undergoing a refurbishment project, Mr Ross spoke to journalists outside the building.

He said: “It’s been a very challenging few days and I’m not trying to ignore that or run away from that.”

Mr Ross said some in the MSP group had raised “legitimate concerns” about him potentially being an MP and MSP at the same time and the decision was not “universally popular”.

General Election campaign 2024
Douglas Ross said stepping down was the right thing to do (Jane Barlow/PA)

A new leader will take the Scottish Conservatives into the 2026 Holyrood election, he said, adding: “They will be based in Holyrood to deliver what I hope will be another very good result for the Scottish Conservatives, following what I hope will be a good result in 2024.”

Asked if he would apologise to Scottish Tory voters for the events of the last few days, he said: “Yeah, I’m sorry this has not been good enough. It’s not how I planned the campaign.

“I didn’t expect to be announcing that I would be standing down during the middle of the campaign.

“But I had to take a decision reflecting on what colleagues and others have said.”

He also told the PA news agency that while none of his MSP colleagues had directly told him to resign, he felt he had to act based on what he had seen in the media.

Mr Ross said: “The easiest thing to do would have been to hide away and do nothing, but I thought it was right to respond to those comments, to react in the way I have.”

One of his biggest achievements as leader was to stop an outright SNP majority at the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, he said.

The outgoing Scottish Tory leader also repeated he would be content with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) reassessing whether there was any wrongdoing in his Westminster expense claims.

He has faced accusations that he may have claimed expenses to facilitate travel to his third job as a football assistant referee – which he has strongly rejected.

It comes as the SNP wrote to IPSA asking them to investigate Mr Ross urgently.

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “If these allegations were fully substantiated, it would mean that Mr Ross has been abusing his public-funded Westminster expenses to unfairly fund his receipt of another, separate salary.

“It would amount to another Westminster expenses scandal carried out by the current leader of the Scottish Tory Party.

“Given the seriousness of this matter, it is in the public interest for these allegations to be investigated immediately.”

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