Moray MP Douglas Ross has resigned from Boris Johnson’s government over the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy.
Mr Ross, who has served as a junior Scotland Office minister since December, announced his resignation on social media.
It comes after the prime minister’s most senior aide breached lockdown rules by travelling 260 miles from London to County Durham.
Mr Ross said: “I have just tendered my resigned from the UK Government and my position as under secretary of state for Scotland.
“Following my re-election as MP for Moray last December I was honoured to be asked by the prime minister to join his government and take on this role in the Scotland Office.
“It is a position I have relished and one I’ve committed to wholeheartedly since my appointment.
“There was much I still hoped to do in this role but events over the last few days mean I can no longer serve as a member of this government.
“I have never met Dominic Cummings so my judgement on this matter has always been open and I accept his statement on Monday afternoon clarified the actions he took in what he felt were the best interest of his family, however, these were decisions many others felt were not available to them.”
I haven't commented publicly on the situation with Dominic Cummings as I have waited to hear the full details. I welcome the statement to clarify matters, but there remains aspects of the explanation which I have trouble with. As a result I have resigned as a government Minister. pic.twitter.com/6yXLyMzItJ
— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) May 26, 2020
He added: “As a father my instinct is to always do what is best for my son and wife. We have been fortunate not to have caught this awful virus but if we did, we are prepared to follow the government advice and stay home to contain this virus.
“While the intentions may have been well meaning, the reactions to this news shows that Mr Cummings’ interpretations on the government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the government asked.
“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones, families who could not mourn together, people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government. I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right.
“This is not a decision I have reached quickly. I have waited to hear all of the information and thought long and hard over this. I realise both the immediate and long-term implications of my decision to resign.
“While it has been a great privilege to serve as a minister my first duty is to be a representative and I feel I can best represent my Moray constituents and many across the country who have expressed their feelings about this by resigning as minister.”
Mr Ross said he “looked forward” to representing Moray on the back benches.
The prime minister’s official spokesman thanked Mr Ross for his service, he said: “The prime minister would like to thank Douglas Ross for his service to government and regrets his decision to stand down as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland”.
Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, who faced a backlash this week after urging people to move on from the Cummings controversy, said Mr Ross would be a “huge loss”.
He said: “I accept Douglas’ position and respect the decision he has come to.
“This is a difficult situation for many, and people will arrive at different judgements.
“Douglas will be a huge loss to government and I thank him for all he’s done at the Scotland Office.
“I am in no doubt that he will continue to serve his Moray constituents with diligence and commitment, as he has done since first being elected.”
Mr Ross’ now former boss, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, paid tribute. He said: “I would like to thank Douglas Ross for his contribution as a minister at the Scotland Office.
“I know he will continue to be a dedicated and hard-working constituency MP for Moray.”
The view from the opposition benches has been one of praise for Mr Ross and condemnation for the government.
Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “Douglas was a fair and reasonable minister who has done the decent thing and resigned from a government that is out of control.
“Integrity has been sadly lacking from this government, especially over the last 72 hours, so I commend him for making this difficult decision.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford added: “This will have been a difficult decision to make and I respect Douglas Ross for taking it. This issue transcends politics. It is about protecting trust and confidence in the public health advice.
“It is staggering that a Tory minister has had to resign over this before the unelected adviser who broke the rules in the first place.”