Tory MP says sorry for ‘gypsy traveller problems’ comments

Douglas Ross, MP for Moray garnered criticism for his comment on Travellers. Picture: TSPL
Douglas Ross, MP for Moray garnered criticism for his comment on Travellers. Picture: TSPL
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A Conservative MP has apologised for saying his priority as prime minister would be to bring in ‘’tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers’’.

Douglas Ross made the comments in an online interview when asked what he would do if he was prime minister for the day.

He was criticised by opposition parties and human rights groups but said it was an issue within his Moray constituency, where land owners have faced court action and clean-up costs from camp sites.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday, Mr Ross said he would pick another priority such as tackling global famine or eradicating cancer if asked the question again.

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He told Good Morning Scotland: “I do apologise for saying that would be a number one priority as prime minister; that clearly wouldn’t be the case for any prime minister.

“If I was given the opportunity to do that quick-fire interview again, I would definitely come up with a different priority.”

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He added: “This is an issue that needs to be addressed and it’s unfortunate that we cannot openly discuss it for fear of being called a bigot and a racist.

“If we do that then no-one will ever mention this again and the divisions within these communities will maintain and the settled community will feel their voice does not get raised in this argument and problems with the gypsy travelling community will continue because no-one is willing to debate and discuss this important issue.”

In the Meet The MPs interview series with Core Politics, Mr Ross was asked: “If you were prime minister for the day, without any repercussions, what would you do?”

He said: “I would like to see tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers”, before the video cut to the next question.