A TORY bidding to become an Edinburgh MSP at the elections in May has resigned his candidacy to go and stand in Orkney instead.
Jamie Halcro-Johnson, who was chosen as Conservative candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith last summer, is said to be switching seats as a favour to the party, which was unable to find anyone to fight the Orkney constituency. He comes from the area and his father was council convener there.
But it means the local party in North and Leith must now hurry to find a replacement candidate with the election just nine weeks away.
A Tory source said: "The party has been struggling for many months now to find a candidate for Orkney. They asked Jamie to move as a favour.
"When they first asked a few weeks ago, he wouldn't do it. But now he has agreed. He has resigned from the Lothian list."
Mr Halcro-Johnson said the party in Orkney needed a local candidate to fight the seat so he had agreed to step down from his candidacy in Edinburgh.
He said: "It was not a question of being unhappy in any way with North and Leith. It was really that there was an opportunity to stand in the Orkney seat and it seemed to be the obvious solution."
He is expected to be formally selected as Orkney candidate this weekend. But a Tory insider said: "It's not good for the party to be moving candidates around - it smacks of desperation. And it doesn't do Jamie's credibility any good - he told people he saw his political future in the Lothians."
Edinburgh North and Leith is held by Labour's Malcolm Chisholm and the Conservatives finished fourth at the last Holyrood elections in 2007.
Mr Halcro-Johnson, who is publications sales manager for Holyrood Communications, won the nomination in July last year by defeating former Edinburgh Tory group leader Iain Whyte, who was the candidate last time.
Councillor Whyte has since been chosen to stand for the Tories in the Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn seat after the previous candidate, Ivor Tiefenbrun, was forced to quit after saying Scots were "thick" for disliking Margaret Thatcher.
Today Cllr Whyte ruled out any idea that he could seek a move back to North and Leith.
He said: "It would be very unfair to the people in Glasgow and I would not consider doing that. Leaflets with my name and face on them have already gone out in Glasgow."
The North and Leith local party is expected to seek a new candidate as quickly as possible.
The favourite is said to be Sheila Low, a 46-year-old mother-of-four from Trinity, who stood in Glenrothes at last year's general election.