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Douglas Ross had to resign as Scottish Conservative leader after standing in colleague David Duguid’s seat, his predecessor says | Politics News

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross could have avoided resigning had he not decided to stand in a seat from which his colleague had been deselected, his predecessor told Sky News.

Ruth Davidson, who was leader until 2021, told Sky News’ Electoral Dysfunction podcast Mr Ross was “probably always going to have to stand down” after he put himself forward to stand in the seat David Duguid was planning on standing for again.

She said “part of the the job is to take the punches” and she would not have announced she was stepping down in the middle of an election campaign.

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Mr Ross’s decision to stand as an MP was made hours before final nominations had to be declared last Friday, and the morning after Mr Duguid had said the night before he was looking forward to campaigning for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat.

Former Tory minister Mr Duguid was deselected due to his health, the Scottish Tory party said, after suffering a severe illness that involved spinal surgery and remains in hospital.

However, he had said he was still expecting to stand as his recovery was going well.

On Monday, Mr Ross announced he will step down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives after the 4 July election – as he also faced accusations of using Westminster expenses to travel in his role as a football linesman.

He also announced he would resign as an MSP if re-elected to Westminster.

Mark Menzies denies the allegations outlined in the report.
Image:
Ruth Davidson on the Electoral Dysfunction podcast

Avoidable mess

But Ms Davidson said: “With the best will in the world, he wouldn’t have put himself forward for the seat and all of this would have been avoided.”

“I think, in hindsight, he was having a pretty good election up until he put himself forward as a candidate [for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East].

“And even if the party management board’s decision that David [Duguid] wasn’t well enough to stand, even though he said he was, that would have been alright if it had been another candidate that put themselves forward.

“It was him [Ross] putting himself forward. And because of the timing of it, and it looked so bad, and then he wasn’t really able to explain himself very well.

“Once that happened, I kind of think after the election, he was probably always going to have to stand down.”

She added that part of the job is to “take those hits”.

David Duguid was told he could not stand for the Scottish Conservatives due to health grounds
Image:
David Duguid was told he could not stand for the Scottish Conservatives due to health grounds

Ms Davidson said: “I’m not entirely sure about the decision to announce that you’re going to do it three-and-a-half weeks from polling day, because I think that part of the job is to take the hits to those different types of elections.

“I’ve fought them all, fought ones where they’re great fun and you’re trying to get votes out of other people and your party’s growing.

“And I’ve also fought ones when you’re on the back foot and you’re getting punched every single day.

“And part of the job is to take the punches. And that’s what leadership kind of is.”

Read more about the general election:
The MPs standing down
What happens after an election is called?
Find your new constituency and how it’s changed

👉 Click here to follow Electoral Dysfunction wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Announcing his future resignation on Monday, Mr Ross said: “I have served as MP, MSP and leader for over three years now and believed I could continue to do so if re-elected to Westminster, but on reflection, that is not feasible.

“I am committed to fighting and winning the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency.

“Should I be given the honour to represent the people and communities of this new seat, they should know being their MP would receive my complete focus and attention.

“I will therefore stand down as leader following the election on July 4, once a successor is elected.

“Should I win the seat, I will also stand down as an MSP to make way for another Scottish Conservative representative in Holyrood.”

Email Beth Rigby, Ruth Davidson, and Harriet Harman at [email protected], post on X to @BethRigby, or send a WhatsApp voice note on 07934 200 444.

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