Boris Johnson congratulates new leader of Scottish Tories

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has congratulated new Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on his appointment.

In his first comments since his uncontested appointment, Mr Ross said his party must earn the trust of people “looking for a positive and credible alternative for Scotland”.

He described becoming leader of the Scottish Tories as an “honour and privilege of a lifetime”.

His appointment, confirmed at noon on Wednesday, sees the Moray MP take over from Jackson Carlaw, who resigned on Thursday just six months after his election as leader.

Mr Ross is expected to contest a seat at the Holyrood election in 2021.

Welcoming him to the role, Mr Johnson tweeted: “I’ve just spoken to @Douglas4Moray and congratulated him on becoming leader of the @ScotTories.

“I look forward to working with Douglas to promote Scotland’s place in our United Kingdom.”

In a statement, Mr Ross said: “My focus now is on earning the support and trust of people across Scotland who are looking for a positive and credible alternative in Scotland, and who want a fresh start for our country.

“In taking on this job today, I am applying for another: to champion a post-referendum Scotland where we focus not on the divisions of the past but on rebuilding our country from the brink, restoring our reputation for educational excellence, empowering our regions and remote communities, and providing the decent jobs that everyone can aspire to.

“I am applying to work for anyone and everyone in Scotland who wants that to be the focus of our national debate, who wants to move the country forward, and wants that work to start now.”

Mr Ross said education would be a “crucial policy area” for his party as he cited anger voiced by some parents and pupils over exam results published this week.

The results saw a higher proportion of pupils from the most deprived areas have their results downgraded than those in more affluent areas.

“The nervous wait for exam results by thousands of young Scots yesterday ended for too many – particularly for those from more disadvantaged areas – in disappointment, confusion and anger,” he said.

“This week, one in every four exam entries were downgraded. The Scottish Government claims this was necessary to add credibility to the results, but there is nothing credible in the way individual successes and achievements has been taken away from young people through no fault of their own.

“We now need the Scottish Government to pull out the stops to ensure the appeals process is accelerated, so young people have clarity as quickly as possible.”

Mr Ross also announced he would publish “a major jobs plan” within a month, adding: “I want to use my position to spend more time talking outside the political bubble directly with people across Scotland.

“That way, when we come to the Holyrood election next year, our manifesto will end up being rooted in the beliefs, passions and values of Scottish families and businesses – a manifesto for Scotland.”

Without a leader at the Scottish Parliament, Ruth Davidson has been asked to represent the party at First Minister’s Questions until she takes up her seat in the House of Lords.

Mr Ross said he will publish an economic plan for Scotland in the first 30 days of his leadership, effectively launching the Conservative campaign for 2021.

He also said he would like more powers to be given to local authorities to combat what he called a “power grab” from the Scottish Government.

Mr Ross was an MSP between 2016 and 2017 in the Highlands and Islands region before beating SNP depute leader Angus Robertson for the Moray seat at Westminster.

He was appointed a Scotland Office minister in December but resigned in May over senior Number 10 adviser Dominic Cummings’s lockdown trip to Durham and Barnard Castle.