Tory MSP Jamie Greene said he was “probably” axed from the party’s front bench team at Holyrood as a result of his support for controversial gender recognition reforms.
Some six months after voting in favour of the Gender Recognition Bill, Greene was dropped from the role of his party’s Holyrood justice spokesman as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross reshuffled his shadow cabinet team.
The justice portfolio has now gone to Russell Findlay, with Greene no longer part of the shadow cabinet.
Asked he felt he was being punished for his stance, Greene said: “It’s hard to take it any other way to be honest.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Sunday Show he added: “If that’s the reasons that people are being given, one can only assume that there is a problem there.”
While Conservative MSPs were given a free vote on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, most of the party’s representatives at Holyrood voted against it, with Green and Sandesh Gulhane the only Tories to support the legislation which ended up being blocked by the UK Government.
Greene has now questioned whether it was a “true free vote” as he said he had not been told why he was be axed from the justice post.
The West of Scotland MSP said: “I actually wasn’t given a reason, to be quite honest. Not face to face anyway.”
Adding that journalists at Holyrood were being briefed his support for the controversial Bill was the reason for his dismissal, Greene said that was “probably the case”.
He said: “That’s what members of the press and journalists were being told. So I have to assume that is the case. And I find that disappointing.”
With the vote on the Scottish Government’s gender reforms, which would allow trans people to gain legal recognition in their preferred gender without going through a medical process, having taken place in December, Greene added it was “quite some time ago now”, saying he “thought we had moved on from all of that to be honest”.
But he said: “Clearly there was some underlying issue there.
“It may have been better just to address the issue with me directly, privately.”
His comments came as he argued that the Scottish Parliament had become a “very divided place” where it is “very, very hard to do constructive business with anyone across the chamber”.
Greene said the agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens meant that the Government has “a majority on pretty much every vote, every Bill, every piece of legislation”.
As a result he said that Scots were “being let down by that lack of good politics”, describing the quality of debates in the Parliament as “awful”.
With much of Scottish politics focused on the issue of independence, he claimed there had been a “gradual descent into the Parliament becoming a single issue Parliament again, where all people want to talk about is the constitution”.
Greene said: “I understand people have a view on the constitution, I have got friends who support Scottish independence, I have got friends who are adamant, vehement unionists and don’t want that.
“But what we have lost I think is the ability to listen to each other.”