Scotland politics

Tributes paid to late Tory MSP Alex Johnstone

Alex Johnstone
Image caption Mr Johnstone died earlier this month

Scotland's politicians have paid tribute to the late Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone in the Holyrood chamber.

North East representative Mr Johnstone died earlier in the month aged 55.

Moving a motion of condolence, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson led the tributes to the "big-hearted" MSP, who was "a friend to all".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Johnstone, whose family were present in the gallery, was an "excellent MSP" and a "champion of the North East".

The Tory MSP had served at Holyrood since 1999, and passed away shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh opened the tributes, saying it was not Mr Johnstone's political legacy which would be remembered "so much as his warmth, humanity and friendliness", adding that even when people disagreed with him, they could never dislike him.

Ms Davidson said the Mearns native was "big hearted with a big personality", and had demanded that his funeral be held on a Friday so that the Conservatives would not lose any votes in parliament.

The Tory leader said it was "impossible not to like Alex", who "nicknamed himself the spokesman for late nights and early mornings".

Image caption Alex Johnstone's family were present in the Holyrood chamber for the motion of condolence

She said he enjoyed history, and "read as if books were suddenly endangered", praising the MSP's "sense of fun".

Ms Sturgeon said Mr Johnstone "exemplified the integrity, dedication and sense of public service that people expect to see from their elected representatives".

She called him an "excellent MSP" and "champion of the North East" who made a significant contribution at Holyrood - adding that "much more importantly, he was a thoroughly good person".

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the North East had "lost a local loon and one of its finest champions", calling him an "elder statesman with a permanent twinkle in his eye" who had "left an indelible mark" on Holyrood.

Patrick Harvie of the Greens said he and Mr Johnstone would always "disagree in good spirit"; he said he would always remember him as having fun in his job, praising his work on the Climate Change Bill in particular.

Willie Rennie said Mr Johnstone won the respect of everyone at Holyrood. "He looked like a Tory bruiser, but he was far, far more than that. He was intelligent, sharp, witty, loyal and principled, and I will miss him."

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