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Douglas Ross to Resign as Scottish Conservative Leader Amid Expense Scandals and Deselection Controversy



Douglas Ross will step down as the head of the Scottish Conservatives after the next general election. His decision follows backlash regarding the removal of David Duguid from the general election candidate list and allegations of his misuse of Westminster funds for travel related to his duties as a soccer official.

Scotland correspondent @Jenster13

Monday, June 10, 2024, 5:

Douglas Ross has declared his resignation as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives following the election on July 4.

This follows backlash regarding the removal of David Duguid as a candidate for the general election and allegations that Mr. Ross utilized Westminster funds for travel related to his duties as a soccer referee assistant.

Mr. Ross is set to proceed with his campaign for the general election, aiming to secure a victory in the North Aberdehshire and East Moray constituency as a Member of Parliament.

In a press release issued on Monday, he declared his intention to step down as an MSP should he win a seat in Westminster again.

Mr. Ross stated, "Having held the positions of MP, MSP, and leader for more than three years, I initially thought I could carry on if re-elected at Westminster. However, upon further consideration, I've realized that this isn't a viable option."

"I am dedicated to contending for and securing victory in the Aberdeachire North and Moray East constituency. If I am privileged enough to serve as the representative for the residents and communities of this new district, they can be assured that my entire dedication and focus will be on serving as their MP."

"I will therefore resign from my position as leader after the July 4 election, once a new leader has been chosen. If I am elected as an MSP, I will also resign from that role to allow another Scottish Conservative to take my place in Holyrood.

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"Our group has the opportunity to outperform the SNP in crucial constituencies throughout Scotland, such as in North Aberdeenshire and East Moray. It's essential that we unite and concentrate all our efforts on achieving this goal."

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Mr. Ross has declared his candidacy for the Aberdeen North and Moray East constituency amid controversy surrounding his decision.

Ex-Conservative minister Mr. Duguid had intentions of running for the seat; however, due to his hospitalization for health issues, the party's management board decided to withdraw his candidacy.

Controversy over

Mr. Ross's decision to step down follows revelations by the Sunday Mail about queries surrounding 28 travel expense claims, which were possibly mingled with his duties as a soccer linesman.

According to regulations governing the UK Parliament, Members of Parliament are permitted to claim travel expenses solely from their residential airport. For Mr. Ross, who served as the MP for Moray, the applicable airports were either Inverness or Aberdeen.

They are also eligible to submit claims for "diverted" trips, provided they furnish comprehensive details about the detour.

According to the newspaper, in November 2021, assistants to Mr. Ross expressed concerns about reimbursement requests that encompassed a £58 parking charge at Inverness Airport from July 2018, during a time when parliament was not in session.

The report also mentioned that a £43 train fare from Heathrow to central London was expensed the day following Mr. Ross's role as an assistant referee in a game in Iceland.

Reports also allege that he charged a flight from London to Glasgow and £109 for parking to the company.

It is claimed that on November 1, 2020, he submitted an expense of £48.99 for parking on the day he officiated a Celtic match.

Mr. Ross stated that attending a football match from London was "not possible" because he wouldn't have his referee uniform with him.

Mr. Ross emphasized that his expense claims have solely pertained to his duties as a Member of Parliament and his travel expenses to and from Westminster.

He stated that the claims for expenses had been authorized by the independent parliamentary organization IPSA and he would welcome another examination of them.

Matheson reviewer

Mr. Ross expressed severe criticism towards Michael Matheson following the revelation that the ex-SNP health minister violated the code of conduct concerning his £11,000 iPad data roaming charges.

Mr. Ross has urged Mr. Matheson, currently under suspension, to step down from his position as the MSP for Falkirk West.

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'He has treated David Duguid terribly'

Following the alarm over Mr. Ross' expenditures, First Minister John Swinney expressed he preferred not to "rush to judgment," however, he acknowledged that the "situation brings up critical and grave concerns regarding the possible misappropriation of public money."

After Mr. Ross made his statement, Mr. Swinney expressed that he was "not surprised" by the news.

During a visit to Pollok United's after-school program in Glasgow, Mr. Swinney told Sky News, "His position was completely untenable. He has treated David Duguid terribly."

David is unwell. As a esteemed member of parliament, it is widely acknowledged that his health is deteriorating. His local association chose him as their representative.

Douglas Ross evidently requires more, as David Duguid has been removed from his parliamentary candidacy and replaced by Douglas Ross himself.

"I believe it's a completely unacceptable manner to act towards a coworker."

Mr. Ross has humorously earned the nickname "three-jobs Ross" for managing his duties as an MP, MSP, and football linesman simultaneously.

"Selecting and deciding"

Following Mr. Ross's commitment to resign as an MSP if he secures a seat in Westminster again, Mr. Swinney commented, "It's the appropriate action since I believe his situation is no longer tenable."

"Douglas Ross is indicating that he will selectively decide which parliament he participates in."

"He intends to resign from the Scottish parliament if he wins a seat in the Westminster parliament."

"However, if he fails to secure a seat in Westminster, he will remain in the Scottish parliament, even though he has evidently lost the trust of his peers and stepped down as the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party."

Mr. Swinney expressed that selectively determining parliamentary representation undermines its seriousness.

He emphasized, "Serving our community in parliament is an extremely grave responsibility. It's not something to be taken lightly or selected on a whim.

"This clearly shows Douglas Ross prioritizing his personal interests. In politics, however, the focus should be on the public welfare, not individual gains."

"He created this chaos himself."

The leader of the SNP dismissed accusations of engaging in political smear tactics.

He continued, "I'm simply pointing out that Douglas Ross has created a complete disaster for himself."

"I haven’t added anything to this situation. He created this chaos all by himself."

"It seems clear that any sensible, reasonable person could have predicted this outcome."

Deputy leader of Scottish Labour, Jackie Baillie, extended her best wishes to Mr. Ross, although she had earlier demanded a prompt clarification regarding the issues with his expenses.

She stated: "These questionable assertions require immediate clarification, and Douglas Ross's feeble justifications offer little comfort.

"If Douglas Ross has been trying to defraud taxpayers, his reaction to the controversy involving Michael Matheson's iPad would be a clear example of hypocrisy."

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"Rodent fleeing a doomed vessel"

Ex-First Minister and leader of the Alba Party, Alex Salmond, described Mr. Ross as being "completely lacking in integrity."

He commented, "This is the first instance of a rat abandoning a sinking ship while also attempting to jump on a bandwagon of opportunity."

"Douglas Ross should step down as the candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, where he betrayed David Duguid."

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his respect for Mr. Ross' choice, noting that he had achieved a commendable record as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Mr. Sunak stated, "Douglas has explained his reasons in his statement, which I respect and accept his decision."

"Working with him has been immensely gratifying during my tenure as Prime Minister. He has consistently advocated for the unity of the union."

He and I collaborated on developing two freeports in Scotland, aimed at boosting employment and investment, while also opposing the SNP's controversial gender recognition reforms. Furthermore, we proudly support Scotland's North Sea energy sector, a stance that our party has uniquely maintained.

"Douglas has a history of accomplishments that are commendable, and it's been a pleasure to collaborate with him. However, I honor his choice."

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