New Tory leader Douglas Ross pledges 'credible alternative' to SNP

Douglas Ross has pledged to build a “credible alternative” to the SNP Government as he was confirmed as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Douglas Ross is the new Scots Tory leader
Douglas Ross is the new Scots Tory leader

No rival candidates emerged in the leadership contest which closed at noon today, meaning the Moray MP takes over from Jackson Carlaw whose resignation shocked Scottish politics last week.

But the new leader was today branded “Boris Johnson’s man in Scotland” by opponents.

Mr Ross will continue as an MP at Westminster but intends to seek election to the Scottish Parliament on the Hightland list in next year's Holyrood vote.

He said today: “Becoming leader of the Scottish Conservatives today is the honour and privilege of a lifetime.

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"Now our focus must turn to earning the trust of people looking for a positive and credible alternative for Scotland, and who want a fresh start for our country. “I hope you'll join us.”

Former leader Ruth Davidson to fill in for him at First Minister's Questions when the Scottish Parliament resumes next week.

The new leader, who previously represented the Highland and Islands region at Holyrood before beating then SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson for the Moray constituency, resigned as a minister in the Scotland office in May in the aftermath of government adviser Dominic Cummings' efforts to defend a trip to Durham during lockdown.

He has already signalled his intent to unveil a plan for Scotland's economy in the first 30 days of his leadership, effectively launching the Conservatives' election campaign for 2021.

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The MP also said he wants to hand more powers to local authorities, accusing the Scottish Government of a "power grab" over the 13 years the SNP have been in power.

As for a second independence referendum, with support for leaving the UK polling at 54% in two Panelbase polls in June and July, Mr Ross said: "We had that vote six years ago and we were told it was a once in a generation event.

"What I want to do is leave that in the past."

Former Scottish Secretary David Mundell, current depute leaders Annie Wells and Liam Kerr and a host of MSPs and councillors have backed Mr Ross' rise to the leadership along with Mr Carlaw and Ms Davidson.

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But SNP Deputy keader Keith Brown said: "Douglas Ross is Boris Johnson's man in Scotland. Westminster has launched a total takeover of the Scottish Tories and installed a Brexit-backing MP to act as a puppet for Downing Street."As his Westminster voting record proves, Mr Ross couldn't be more out of touch with Scotland. “

Scottish Greens Co-Leader Patrick Harvie added: “Just months ago, the Scottish Tories were maintaining the pretence that they were something different from the extremist No-Deal Brexiteers of the Boris Johnson camp. Today the instalment of Douglas Ross as their part time, absentee leader without even asking their members confirms that there isn’t a hint of difference between them.”

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