The campaign to elect Boris Johnson as the next leader of the Conservatives has appointed a controversial Aberdeen MP to help rally support in Scotland.
Ross Thomson was today revealed as chairman of the Tory front runner's operations north of the Border, a role that will see him coordinate pro-Boris MPs, MSPs, councillors and ordinary party members.
The MP for Aberdeen South is a long-term supporter of Mr Johnson, which has put him at odds with Scottish party leader Ruth Davidson.
Mr Thomson has proved a controversial figure at Westminster since he was first elected to the Commons in 2017, and currently faces two allegations of misconduct.
The MP referred himself to the Tories' internal disciplinary panel after being accused of "sexual touching" in Westminster’s Strangers’ Bar last year, over claims against him he described as “completely false”.
In a separate incident, it was reported in February that a Scots MP had made an official statement to Parliament’s sexual harassment hotline after Thomson allegedly groped other men in a Commons bar.
In April last year he was accused of gross insensitivity after joking about Saddam Hussein on social media while on an official visit to Iraq.
In a blog posted in January, Mr Thomson made clear his support for Mr Johnson. “There is a political narrative that’s being perpetuated in Scotland by the twitterati and the chattering classes that Boris isn’t quite right in Scotland or is just plain unpopular," he wrote.
"It’s nonsense. Much like the mythical Loch Ness monster - heard about often but wanting in hard evidence.”
Commenting on his appointment as Boris Johnson's campaign chief, he told the Press and Journal newspaper: "It is a huge honour to have been asked to chair Boris’ leadership campaign in Scotland at a time of huge excitement and opportunity for our country.
"Boris springs into this campaign with huge momentum, having won the support of over 50% of Conservative MPs. He has demonstrated that he can bring MPs together across leave and remain lines. He will unify our party and our country.
"Boris is the only candidate in this contest committed to delivering Brexit by October 31, which will restore trust in our politics. Prioritising and strengthening the United Kingdom and Scotland’s place within it will be at the heart of Boris’ premiership, which is why he’s secured the public backing of four Scottish MPs here in the north-east.
"I’m looking forward to the upcoming campaign, to engaging with members and to making the positive case for why Boris Johnson can make us believe in ourselves again as a country, enable everyone to fulfil their potential and take part in the huge opportunities of this incredible country."
SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said: “Ross Thomson and Boris Johnson are cut from the same cloth.
“They are both gaffe-prone, mired in controversy and have terrible judgement. You wouldn’t trust either of them to run a tuck shop, never mind a country.
“In just two years as an MP, Ross Thomson has caused deep offence by posing as a murderous dictator and been duped by a blindingly obvious TV prank.
“He’s putting jobs and businesses in Aberdeen at risk, cheerleading for a hard-line Tory who will push for a No Deal Brexit regardless of the cost to Scotland.
“Ross Thomson has become an embarrassment to the city of Aberdeen – and his constituents will jump at the chance to give him the boot come the next election.”