The director of the Scottish Conservatives has left his position to become a special adviser to the Prime Minister.
Mark McInnes, Baron of Kilwinning, had held the job of party boss for 18 years and announced his departure on Thursday, July 8.
During his time as director, he has overseen a growth in votes for the Scottish Conservatives taking them from the third largest party in Holyrood to replacing Labour as the official opposition.
Former Tory MSP Adam Tomkins said McInnes’ move following the departures of both former leader Ruth Davidson and spin doctor Eddie Barnes left “a monumental hole to fill” in the party’s leadership.
McInnes said: “I want to say a sincere thank you to all the party members, activists and supporters who it has been my pleasure to work with over the years.
“Together we have achieved so much, helping win the 2014 referendum, contributing to the election of Conservative governments, and firmly establishing the Scottish Conservatives as Scotland’s second biggest party and real alternative to the SNP. I know that the party will go on to even greater success in future.”
He was a local councillor for the Meadows/Morningside Ward in Edinburgh from 2003 to 2017 and was nominated for a life peerage in David Cameron’s 2016 Resignation Honours list.
On September 1, 2016, he was created Baron McInnes of Kilwinning, of Kilwinning in the county of Ayrshire.
Tomkins, who stood down at the 2021 election, said: “The Scottish Conservative party I joined in 2014 was dominated by three people: Ruth (obviously), Eddie Barnes (on comms) and Mark McInnes (on campaigns).
“With the news today that Mark is leaving for a new role in London, that’s all three gone. That’s a monumental hole to fill.”
McInnes is expected to take up his new role later this year.
In December 2020, Boris Johnson had appointed 53 special advisers, although at that time both Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain were in the process of leaving their posts.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “On behalf of the whole party, I wish Mark every success in his new role.
“He has been central to the renewal of our party over the last decade and has made an invaluable contribution to the Conservative and Unionist cause as director, as a constituency agent before that and, as we all were to begin with, a voluntary activist.
“Now he is moving on to fresh challenges and he does so with our thanks and best wishes.”