Friday, 18 Sep 2020

Douglas Ross named new Scottish Conservative leader

Former government minister Douglas Ross has been confirmed as the new Scottish Conservative leader.

The 37-year-old takes on the role after winning the leadership without a contest.

The Moray MP was the only candidate to put their name forward to replace Jackson Carlaw, who quit as the Scottish Tories‘ leader last month.

Mr Carlaw said he had come to the “painful conclusion” that he was not the best person to lead the case for Scotland remaining in the UK.

And it will be fronting the Unionist cause that will now become Mr Ross’s major focus ahead of Scottish Parliament elections next year.

He said being named the Scottish Tories’ new leader was “the honour and privilege of a lifetime”.

“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,” he added.

Support for Scottish independence appears to have risen this year and several recent polls have found a majority of Scots in favour of breaking away from the UK.

Last month, a Panelbase poll found support for a “Yes” vote in an independence referendum was at 54% and support for “No” at 46%.

This is a near-reversal of the result of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, in which 55% voted against breaking away from the UK.

Should they gain a majority at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections, the SNP have vowed to hold another independence referendum.

Mr Ross, who does not currently sit in the Scottish Parliament, will hope to win a seat at Holyrood in next May’s election.

But he has said he has no plans to quit the House of Common before the next general election, scheduled for 2024.

In Mr Ross’s absence from the Holyrood chamber until the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will face SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions.

During her leadership, Ms Davidson revived the Tories’ fortunes in Scotland and saw the party win 13 seats at Westminster at the 2017 general election.

However, the Remain supporter quit as Scottish Conservative leader shortly after Boris Johnson became prime minister, as she cited the conflict she felt over Brexit and her hope of achieving a better balance in her life as a new mother.

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