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First Minister John Swinney visits Inverness and accuses Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross of ‘taking Highland constituents for granted’


By Philip Murray

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Drew Hendry, who is seeking to win re-election as an MP, and John Swinney First Minister of Scotland in Inverness with SNP supporters on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Drew Hendry, who is seeking to win re-election as an MP, and John Swinney First Minister of Scotland in Inverness with SNP supporters on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Callum Mackay.

First Minister John Swinney has accused Douglas Ross of taking Highland residents “for granted” after the Conservative leader announced he’d step down as an MSP for the region if he wins a Westminster seat next month.

Ross, who will also be stepping down as Scottish Conservative leader after the General Election, confirmed earlier this week that if he is successful in his Westminster election campaign that he will give up his seat in the Scottish Parliament, where he represents the Highlands.

Prior to boundary changes he had served as MP for Moray alongside his Holyrood duties, with the Westminster constituency overlapping with the geographical area covered by his list Highland MSP seat.

But, if elected to the new constituency of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, the vast majority of the Westminster seat would be located to the east of that.

And he has confirmed that he will devote his time to his Westminster constituents if the public choose him as their MP on July 4.

READ MORE: Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes says Douglas Ross is showing ‘his disdain for the Scottish Parliament’

READ MORE: Highland MSP Douglas Ross to stand down as Scottish Tory leader

Mr Swinney has now accused Mr Ross of “just picking and choosing where he fancies being in parliament” and that he believes Highlanders “will understandably feel they’ve been taken for granted”.

The First Minister fired the broadside at Mr Ross during a visit to Inverness on the General Election campaign trail on Sunday afternoon. Mr Swinney met with SNP re-election hopeful Drew Hendry and party supporters on the riverside, before touring Inverness Cathedral and meeting members of the public.

“Douglas Ross is just picking and choosing where he fancies being in parliament,” Mr Swinney said. “And it entirely takes the electorate for granted.

“People are looking for public representatives to be committed to them for the long-term, to do the patient, faithful work that has got to be done to represent local areas.

“And one minute Douglas Ross wants to be an MP, next minute he wants to be an MSP, next minute he wants to be leader of the Conservative party, next minute he wants to be First Minister, next minute he wants to go back to the House of Commons - and apparently everybody has just got to go along with that.

“And that, it’s not the way [a politician] should behave. And I believe people will understandably feel they've been taken for granted.”

His comments echo those of his deputy, MSP Kate Forbes, who has accused Mr Ross of showing “his disdain for the Scottish Parliament”.

Mr Swinney was also visiting other parts of the north on Sunday, having visited Keith in Moray in the morning, and heading off to other Highland communities after his stop in Inverness.


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