Scottish Tories 'face political extinction without debate on future'

A number of MSPs are understood to be considering a bid to replace Douglas Ross as the Scottish Conservative leader.

The Scottish Conservatives could face “political extinction” if they do not have a wide debate on the future leadership of the party, an MSP has said.

Jamie Greene said there should be no “swift return to business as usual” after his party slumped to its lowest-ever vote share at a General Election, returning five MPs north of the border.

Current leader Douglas Ross is due to stand down and a number of MSPs are understood to be considering whether to enter the race to succeed him.

However, the contest will not begin until at least next week as the party’s management board will meet at the weekend to decide on the timeline.

Greene was dropped from a frontbench role by Ross last year, with his vote in favour of the of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill seen as being the most likely factor.

Writing in the Times on Monday, he said: “Is the Scottish Conservative party leadership hoping for a conveniently short contest, with high barriers to entry, to appoint its preferred candidate?

“Or is it willing to have a real and meaningful conversation about what sort of party they want any new leader to lead?

“I suspect some grandees prefer the former; a swift return to business as usual. I, however, and many others, believe the latter is a necessity.

“I’ll say this frankly: the party must do this properly to ensure the widest possible debate, lest we risk political extinction.”

Russell Findlay is considering a bid to replace Douglas Ross.PA Media

Greene’s sentiments were endorsed by justice spokesman Russell Findlay, who is considering whether he will enter the race or not.

He told the Daily Mail: “Scotland needs to play a big part in rebuilding an election-winning Conservative movement. I’ll be taking careful consideration of how I can best contribute to that.

“It would be sensible to take stock and speak with family and friends before making a decision.”

He said there is “little appetite for a reactionary lurch to the right in Scotland, but the status quo is equally unappetising”.

North east MSP Maurice Golden has also said he is considering a bid for the Scottish Conservative leadership.

Other possible contenders are understood to include party chairman Craig Hoy and deputy leader Meghan Gallacher, both of whom played a prominent role in the Scottish Conservative campaign after Ross announced he would stand down.

However, so far nobody has confirmed they will go for the top job.

Ross decided he would stand down following unease from Conservative colleagues at this decision to run in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

He ran in the stead of former MP David Duguid, who was barred from standing by party bosses due to ill health.

But the current Tory leader was beaten by SNP candidate Seamus Logan, who won 13,455 votes to Ross’s 12,513.

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “The management board will meet soon to agree a timeline and format for the contest.”

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