Tory MP Douglas Ross ditches plans to referee at World Cup

MP Douglas Ross caused uproar when he missed a Commons vote to run the line in Spain. Picture: Alan Harvey
MP Douglas Ross caused uproar when he missed a Commons vote to run the line in Spain. Picture: Alan Harvey
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Controversial Tory MP Douglas Ross, who also works as a referee, has announced that he won’t undertake assignments at next year’s World Cup in Russia as he pledged to avoid working his second job when Parliament is sitting.

Mr Ross, who is the MP for Moray, was sharply criticised after missing a debate on the contentious issue of Universal Credit Changes to work as a linesman in a Champions League match between Barcelona and Olympiakos at the Nou Camp.

SNP MP John McNally even brandished a red card in the House of Commons as he pressed Prime Minister Theresa May on Mr Ross’ absence from the non-binding vote, which all but two Conservative MPs abstained from.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross will quit after World Cup

The former MSP, who unseated then-SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson from the Moray seat in one of the biggest results of the snap general election in June, had said he would give up refereeing after next year’s World Cup.

However, in a written statement given to local newsletter Inside Moray, he said that he now knew that the balance between his work in football and his role in parliament was impossible to maintain.

The statement said: “This week I have taken the decision to inform the football authorities that I will no longer be able to accept any appointments when Parliament is sitting. The consequence of this decision means that I can no longer do the majority of International matches and my hopes of representing Scotland, and most importantly for me, Moray, at a World Cup, now end.”

READ MORE: PM’s spokesman won’t say if Ross is fulfilling parliamentary duties

Mr Ross, who worked at the Betfred Cup semi-final between Celtic and Hibs last week, did defend his decision to take up the linesman job at the Nou Camp, explaining that he had been ‘paired’ with an opposition MP and insisting that he didn’t break a pre-election commitment to avoid his refereeing interfering with his parliamentary duties.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “Not only is his second job becoming untenable, but his first job is too – as he continues to break a promise made to his constituents. Just when will he be out and about in his constituency hearing about the big issues facing people there – like the universal credit rollout?

“It’s time for Douglas Ross to actually honour his pre-election commitment that his very well paid hobby won’t get in the way of his duties as an MP – otherwise it will be perfectly clear that his constituents have been conned.”