Who is Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross?

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Image caption,
Douglas Ross previously served as an MSP

Douglas Ross was announced as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives in August. It followed Jackson Carlaw's resignation after only six months in the job.

So who is the Moray MP and what is his political background?

Douglas Ross has represented his local area since 2007, when he was first elected to Moray Council.

Born in Aberdeen, the 37-year-old was raised locally, attending Forres Academy and the Scottish Agricultural College.

He worked as a dairyman at local farms - he once told Holyrood Magazine that "some people like big tractors, other people like sheep, I was just really interested in dairy cattle" - before taking up a post as a researcher at the Scottish Parliament.

He stood for the Conservatives in a series of elections for Westminster and Holyrood, eventually becoming an MSP via the Highlands and Islands regional list in 2016.

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Douglas Ross said his fellow Scottish Tories MPs could not back any extension to the Common Fisheries Policy

Mr Ross acted as the party's justice spokesman, but his time at Holyrood was to be short-lived.

He won a seat at Westminster in the following year's general election, taking the Moray constituency from the SNP's deputy leader Angus Robertson.

Mr Ross has been an ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having supported his leadership campaign in 2019 after initially backing outsider Mark Harper, who was eliminated in the first round.

He said Mr Johnson would "deliver most for the four nations of the United Kingdom" and would push through Brexit.

Although he backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, Mr Ross argued that "we must complete Brexit" to "deliver the will of the British people".

He had voted against Theresa May's initial Brexit deal over concerns about what it could mean for the union, and missed the second "meaningful vote" at Westminster after his wife went into labour.

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Mr Johnson campaigned alongside Mr Ross in the 2019 general election, visiting a distillery in Moray.

Boris Johnson returned to Mr Ross' Moray constituency as part of a visit to the north of Scotland and Orkney, one year on from the day he took office as prime minister.

Mr Ross has previously said he would like to be prime minister, adding: "Everyone who comes into politics should have aspirations to reach the very top".

But despite his ascent through the ranks of the Scottish Conservatives, Mr Ross has not always been a supporter of the party.

In a previous interview, he said he used to be a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and gave the party his first vote.

Courting controversy

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Mr Ross has officiated in Champions League matches - sometimes at the expense of voting in parliament

Mr Ross is also a qualified football referee, and has acted as a linesman in many high profile fixtures in Scotland and beyond.

He has run the line in Scottish Cup finals and Champions League matches, although this prompted criticism when it led him to miss committee meetings and votes in parliament.

His sideline on the sidelines has often prompted jokes from opposing politicians, with one SNP MP showing him a red card during a debate in the Commons.

Mr Ross ultimately accepted that he should not accept refereeing appointments while parliament was sitting, removing him from the running to officiate at the 2018 World Cup.

He said his "one priority" was to "stand up for the people of Moray".

Media caption,
John McNally brandishes a red card as he asks about refereeing MP Douglas Ross

There was also controversy in 2017 when Mr Ross apologised for saying "tougher enforcement against Gypsy travellers" would be his number one priority if he was prime minister.

But he insisted the issue of illegal camps was an important one which people should not shy away from debating.

Mr Ross came under fire from human rights groups and the travelling community over the comments.

He said he did not have time to provide context in a "quick-fire interview".

Quitting the government

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Eyesight claim 'forced me to quit' as minister

Mr Ross became a junior Scotland Office minister after the December 2019 election - but quit his post in government in May amid the row over Mr Johnson's senior advisor, Dominic Cummings.

As other UK ministers rallied around Mr Cummings, who defended travelling from London to County Durham during the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Ross said he had "trouble" with parts of his explanation of events.

He said that Mr Cummings' interpretation of the government advice "was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the government asked".

And he said that given his constituents had missed going to funerals and visiting sick loved ones during lockdown, "I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior advisor to the government was right".

His resignation won backing from a series of his fellow Scottish Conservatives, with MSP Donald Cameron retweeting his statement with the message "well done, my friend".

Fellow Tory MSP Adam Tomkins said it was a "disaster" to lose Mr Ross from government, saying he was "one of the clearest voices for the union in government".