Douglas Ross apologies for Scottish Tory campaign shambles and refuses to say Rishi Sunak can win election

Douglas Ross
-Credit: (Image: SNS Group)

Embattled Douglas Ross has apologised to Tory voters after announcing his decision to quit as leader in the middle of the general election campaign.

Ross said sorry after he derailed the Tory campaign by standing again for Westminster amid claims the party stitched up an ill colleague.

He also refused to say he believed Rishi Sunak will win on July 4.

MSP Ross will stand down as leader within weeks after a backlash over his decision to stand for Westminster again.

He became the candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East after party bosses said favoured choice David Duguid was too ill, claims Duguid denied.

Ross then faced questions over whether he used parliamentary expenses to support his third job as a linesman.

At a media event in Edinburgh, Ross said he quit after some Tories raised “significant concerns” about him trying to stay on as an MSP and MP.

Asked if he is a lame duck leader, he replied: “No, I am continuing with all of the media enquiries, such as this visit."

Put to him the last few days had been really damaging to the Tory campaign, he said: “Yes, it has been a really challenging few days.”

He was also asked if he would say sorry to Scottish Tory voters: “Yes, I am sorry this has not been good enough. It is not how I planned the campaign. I didn’t expect to be announcing that I would be standing down during the middle of the campaign.”

Asked if he is an expenses cheat, he said: “No, I am not.”

Ross was also asked if he had spoken to Duguid about the selection row.

He said: “I have messaged David Duguid and I was very grateful to get a message back from him.”

Asked again if he had spoken to him, he said: “I offered to speak to him.”

Asked whether Duguid had refused to take his calls, he said: “He said at the moment he would prefer to text.”

Ross was also asked explicitly if Sunak can win the election: “I am going up and down the country, seeking the votes for the Scottish Conservatives, visiting key seats up and down the country.”

It comes as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) says it is “reviewing” claims Ross used Westminster expenses to travel in his role as football linesman.

Reports in the Sunday Mail claimed Ross’ advisers flagged concerns over 28 parliamentary travel claims that may have been combined with his football work.

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