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Scottish Tory leadership runners and riders in the race to succeed Jackson Carlaw

Fochabers, Moray, Scotland, Friday 2nd June 2017 Scottish Conservative's leader Ruth Davidson stops for an Ice Cream at a popular Ice Cream Parlour shop in Moray with local candidate Douglas Ross. Picture by Michal Wachucik / Abermedia

With Moray MP Douglas Ross officially throwing his hat in the ring to become the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives, we take at the possible runners and riders to succeed Jackson Carlaw:

Douglas Ross  

Douglas Ross and Angus Robertson.

The Moray MP emerged as the early front-runner to take on the role, following Mr Carlaw’s announcement on Thursday, before officially confirming his leadership bid on Friday.

If successful, he will seek election as an MSP at the next Holyrood elections in May, with former party leader Ruth Davidson leading the fort at First Minister’s Questions in the interim.

The 37-year-old former Fochabers-Lhanbryde councillor is widely known in Scotland for ousting former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson in Moray at the 2017 election, and also for his part-time job as a high level Scottish and European assistant football referee.

Having become under-secretary of state for Scotland, Mr Ross hit the headlines across the UK in May when he became the first minister to resign in protest at the UK Government’s handling of the row over Dominic Cummings trips from London to Durham during lockdown.

His willingness to take such a stance could be attractive to the Scottish Conservatives if they are keen to distance themselves further from unpopular policies being pursued by party colleagues at 10 Downing Street and Westminster.


Liam Kerr

Liam Kerr.

The 45-year-old became deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives last year, alongside Annie Wells, and could feel ready to take the next step.

An employment lawyer before his election as a north-east regional list MSP in 2016, Mr Kerr has held the key justice brief for the Holyrood party since 2017.

Donald Cameron

Donald Cameron MSP.

The Highlands and Islands MSP became shadow finance secretary earlier this year and is considered to be a key figure in the Holyrood group, leading a recent policy review for the party ahead of next year’s election.

An advocate until his election in 2016, Mr Cameron is the son of the Donald Cameron 27th Lochiel, chief of the Clan Cameron, and was educated at Harrow School, a background which might count against the 43-year-old in a leadership contest.

Annie Wells

Annie Wells MSP.

The Glasgow MSP is the party’s other deputy leader, alongside Mr Kerr. A former retail manager at Marks & Spencer, her background differs from some of her colleague, which could prove to be an advantage for a party seeking a broader appeal beyond its traditional support.

Michelle Ballantyne

Michelle Ballantyne MSP.

A former councillor in the Borders, the South Scotland MSP is considered to be on the right-wing of the party and loyal to Boris Johnson. She stood against Jackson Carlaw in the last leadership election, winning 24% of the vote, and could try again.

Ruth Davidson 

Ruth Davidson

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson only left the role last year, resigning for personal and political reasons.

She remained therefore unlikely to step back into the post again so soon and confirmed on Friday that she was backing Mr Ross as the new leader of the party.

She tweeted: “He has the vision, drive and energy to take our party forward.”

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