Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross to stand in General Election

Douglas Ross speaks during the official launch of his party's General Election campaign, May 28 2024 Credit: PA

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has confirmed he will stand in the General Election, despite having previously said he would be standing down from Westminster.

Mr Ross enters the fray with just 24 hours left for nominations to be confirmed for seats ahead of the July 4 poll.

He is seeking the nomination for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat, replacing the former Scotland Office minister David Duguid.

The former MP for Banff and Buchan, Mr Duguid, said on Wednesday he had been barred for standing by the party due to ill health.

Mr Ross announced his intention at a snap press conference in Edinburgh on Thursday morning, where he said: “Over the last 12 hours, I have thought long and hard about this and considered the options.

“I’ve decided I need to lead from the front, so this evening I will put myself forward for nomination as Scottish Conservative candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.”

Mr Ross had said he would not run again in Westminster, in order to concentrate on his job as an MSP ahead of the 2026 Holyrood election campaign.

He told journalists: “I will stand in the seat and I intend to beat the SNP, just as I’ve done in the past, so we can get focused on the top priorities of local people.”

Those issues, including employment, the NHS and roads, will be “key” to Mr Ross for the next five years if he is elected.

“I fully expect the SNP to throw absolutely everything they’ve got at me,” he said.

David Duguid had previously been the frontrunner to stand in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East for the Tories Credit: X / @david_duguid

The SNP attacked Mr Ross’s decision to stand almost immediately, describing the treatment of Mr Duguid as “indefensible”.

SNP campaign chief Stewart Hosie said: “This is a day of shame for the Tories, with three-jobs Douglas Ross taking a seat from David Duguid to keep his third salary at Westminster.

“The way the Tories have treated Mr Duguid is indefensible. The nasty party just got nastier."

Mr Ross said that while he accepted there might be "concerns" around Mr Duguid's treatment, he counted him as a "friend and colleague."

Posting on X yesterday, Mr Ross said: "David Duguid has been a great MP, Government Minister, and a true champion for his area.

"As the neighbouring MP I worked closely with him and he was an excellent member of the Scottish Affairs Committee.

"I wish him and his family all the very best for his continued recovery."

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said the decision makes it clear “there is no promise flip flop Ross won’t break”.

She added: “Douglas Ross is treating his constituents with contempt by refusing to give up one of his three jobs and his shoddy treatment of his own colleague shows how morally bankrupt the Tories are.

“The Scottish Tories can no longer attempt to distance themselves from the carnage we have seen in Downing Street – Douglas Ross has always been right at the heart of this rotten Tory Government.”

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie was also critical of Mr Ross – insisting being an MSP is a full-time job.

“Douglas Ross’s commitment to increasing the number of jobs he has is pretty boundless,” Mr Harvie said.

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said Mr Duguid is a “capable parliamentarian” who has respect across the aisles.

“As for Douglas’ decision, that’s really a matter for Douglas and the internal workings of the Conservative party,” he said.

Mr Ross served as MP for Moray from 2017 to 2024. He is currently MSP for the Highlands and Islands, as well as serving as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party since 2020.

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