Douglas Ross, the Moray MP who has become the new leader of the Scottish Tories, has denied that there was a Westminster ‘stitch-up’ to get the former leader Jackson Carlaw replaced.
It has emerged that a meeting took place between Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross on July 26, something a spokesman for Davidson confirmed to the Daily Record did happen, but would not explain what was discussed.
He said: ‘Ruth did visit Douglas in Moray in a personal capacity on that date.’
Four days after the meeting Carlaw announced his shock resignation, with a peerage announced for Davidson hours later.
Within a week of Carlaw’s resignation, Ross was confirmed as Scottish Tory leader with no other candidates stepping forward.
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Speaking to the BBC, Davidson denied it was related that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove visited Scotland days before.
She said: ‘I don’t know what else to say, apart from Jackson Carlaw resigned, Douglas has put his hat into the ring, I think he is the best person for the job, I’m backing him and doing all I can to help.’
Ross denied a ‘Westminster’ stitch-up, telling the PA News Agency: ‘I’ve been a name in the frame as a potential leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and people who were supporters of me – and myself – had to make a very quick and decisive decision because nine months out from an election, we had to ensure we were ready and raring to go.
‘I think that if there is any criticism of the haste in terms of putting myself forward, it just shows that I’m driven and determined to immediately get in charge and make the changes we need to present a positive, strong vision for Scotland going forward.’
He added: ‘What I would say is, if you don’t think that from the moment Jackson Carlaw’s resignation statement dropped that there were conversations between colleagues within our party, then I think that’s stretching the imagination somewhat.’
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: ‘It looks like Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross were hatching a plan to do in Jackson Carlaw over tea and crumpets in Moray.
‘They should give a full account of what was discussed at this secret meeting.’
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard commented: ‘It beggars belief to imagine that the leadership of the Scottish Tory party was not discussed. It’s clear Douglas Ross had been lined up before Carlaw resigned.’