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Scottish Tory deputy defends Ross’s leadership amid Duguid criticism



The deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives has dismissed claims Douglas Ross’s leadership has been “significantly undermined” by the deselection of David Duguid as a General Election candidate.

Meghan Gallacher praised her Scottish Tory boss for his leadership as she campaigned alongside Luke Graham on Sunday.

Mr Ross came under fire after he announced his candidacy in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency last week after Mr Duguid was blocked over health concerns.

Mr Duguid had hoped to contest the seat, which replaced his previous Banff and Buchan constituency and part of Mr Ross’s former Moray seat under new boundary rules.

But he is currently unwell in hospital and said the party’s membership board had de-selected him as a candidate.

Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney has been among the critics of Mr Ross, accusing the Scottish Tory leader, who is also an MSP in Holyrood, of “naked self-interest”.

Mr Ross had previously pledged to step aside from Westminster to focus on his Holyrood and leadership responsibilities.

Speaking to the PA news agency on the campaign trail in Perth, Ms Gallacher said it was a “difficult situation” to deselect Mr Duguid, adding the management board who took the decision had a “duty of care” to the former MP.

And she defended her boss, stating: “Douglas Ross always leads from the front you can see that by his leadership in the Scottish Parliament. It was only last month – due to Douglas Ross – that Humza Yousaf had to resign.”

“We’re now all focused on taking forward the general election.”

She said the party was focused on particularly taking seats from the SNP.

However, SNP leader Mr Swinney said: “I think his ability to continue as Scottish Conservative leader is significantly undermined by his behaviour.

“Douglas Ross has no credibility whatsoever – he has been telling us all that he wants to be leader of the Scottish Conservative Party so that he can become the first minister of Scotland.

The party management board took an incredibly difficult decision to conclude that David Duguid could not stand at this election for health reasons

Scottish Conservatives spokesperson

“But he is now taking a decision to try to get back to the House of Commons so he is just exercising constant naked self-interest in the decisions that he takes.”

Mr Duguid has denied claims he is “unable to stand” in the election.

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “The party management board took an incredibly difficult decision to conclude that David Duguid could not stand at this election for health reasons.

“David has been a fantastic local MP for the last seven years and Douglas worked incredibly well with him as the neighbouring MP in Moray.

“Everyone wishes David well in his continued recovery and looks forward to his return to frontline politics.

“Given the short timeframe to ensure we had a candidate in this key seat, Douglas decided he needed to lead from the front and stop this area being represented by an SNP MP who would only focus on independence, rather than local people’s real priorities.”

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