A Scottish Conservative MP cannot think of “anyone better” to be Scotland Office minister than the MEP who will become a Lord after losing his general election fight.
The Courier revealed on Monday that Ian Duncan, who missed out on election to the Commons by 21 votes, will be confirmed as Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s deputy in a move that sparked fury amongst his political opponents.
But David Duguid, the new Banff and Buchan representative, denied anyone in the 12-strong group of new Tory MPs from north of the border was likely to feel snubbed by the appointment.
He said: “We have all discussed who might be working alongside David Mundell but I don’t think any of us, certainly our less experienced guys, were under any illusion it would be any of us.
“If it is the case that Ian Duncan is coming in, then I couldn’t think of anyone better.
Mr Duguid added: “I can’t see why anyone in our group would have any problem with that at all.”
That view was backed by Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson who said Mr Duncan “would make a fantastic member of the government.”
The Courier revealed yesterday that Mr Duncan is to be installed in the House of Lords, taking the title Lord Duncan of Springbank in a nod to the Alyth council estate he grew up in, so he can be part of the UK Government despite not winning Perth and North Perthshire in the general election.
His expertise in fishing and energy are seen as major assets in the role, as his extensive experience of Brussels institutions and Holyrood having served as an MEP and as head of the Scottish Parliament’s European Office for seven years.
Asked about the revelations yesterday, Mr Duncan said: “I certainly can confirm there are a lot of discussions going on right now and I hope in the next few days to be able to confirm the outcome of those discussions.”
Pressed whether it was right for him to “leapfrog” Tory candidates who won their seats, he said: “I would look upon this as a measure of experience and trying to make sure that the best experience is available to the government.”
Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said: “That anyone can be rejected by the electorate and then just days later find themselves in a powerful government role is fundamentally undemocratic and should not be allowed in a modern society.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale added: “Ian Duncan was rejected by the people of Perth and North Perthshire just days ago.
“Now it seems he will sit in Parliament anyway thanks to a Tory stitch-up.”
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Theresa May obviously doesn’t have a lot of faith in the talents of her newly elected Scottish MPs if she is so keen to pass them over.”
It came after Mr Duncan said SNP ministers should have a seat at the Brexit negotiating table.
In a surprising intervention ahead of his formal confirmation as David Mundell’s deputy, the MEP seemed open to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for a more inclusive approach to the UK Government’s talks about leaving the European Union.
He was asked on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland if Ms Sturgeon or her Brexit Minister Mike Russell should have a seat at the negotiating table.
He replied: “Yep. I have no problem with that. I think that should be a common approach to all the home nations so they can see exactly what is going on.
“But more importantly they need to make sure they have a seat at the discussion point in London when these positions are being hammered out because that’s where the detail will be determined, not actually inside the room.
“That’s true of the European Council meetings right now.”
Speaking during a visit to University of Strathclyde research centre, Ms Sturgeon said it was “troubling” that the UK government had “no authority and no clear idea even amongst its own ranks of what it’s trying to achieve” as the negotiations began.
And she warned that a failure to pursue the “common-sense” objective of keeping the UK in the single market would put jobs, investment and living standards “on the line”.
She said: “Let’s have a more inclusive approach and an approach that focuses on keeping the UK within the single market.”
Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler, rector of St Andrews University, said there should be a “way and a mechanism” for the UK government to consult with the devolved nations on the Brexit talks.