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"It would not have been possible":Douglas Ross defends Partygate debate absence

By Ewan Malcolm

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DOUGLAS Ross has defended his absence from the House of Commons on Thursday as MPs approved an investigation into claims Boris Johnson misled Parliament about parties in Downing Street.

Douglas Ross and Richard Lochhead have clashed over the recent debate in the House of Commons.
Douglas Ross and Richard Lochhead have clashed over the recent debate in the House of Commons.

Moray's MP was not present for the debate at Westminster which saw MPs agree on the Privileges Committee launching an inquiry once police have finished their own investigation into the gatherings.

Ross instead attended First Minister's Questions in Holyrood in his role as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands.

He said: "Having taken part in First Minister's Questions at lunchtime on Thursday it would not have been possible to get to Parliament in London for the end of the debate at 4:30pm."

On the news that Boris Johnson will be investigated by a Commons committee, Ross added: "I believe this is the right outcome and have repeatedly said the Prime Minister's actions were unacceptable and questions needed to be answered.

"The committee inquiry will allow this to happen."

Political rival and MSP for Moray, Richard Lochhead, criticised Ross's absence from the House of Commons and called on him to choose between his role as an MP for Moray and an MSP for the Highland and Islands.

Lochhead said: "Mr Ross has effectively admitted that he can't be in two places at once and should therefore focus on being either a full time MP for Moray or full time Highlands and Islands MSP.

"He clearly can't do either role justice and the people of Moray are left without a full time voice in the UK Parliament. He should resign immediately from one of his roles.

"This was a debate and vote on holding the Prime Minister to account for breaking his own rules and Partygate, as well as lying to Parliament.

"Mr Ross's decision to miss a potentially vital Westminster vote and prioritise Holyrood, shows contempt for the tens of thousands of his constituents in Moray who made personal, and very difficult, sacrifices during the pandemic and who are appalled by the cavalier way in which leading Conservatives broke their own rules by attending parties that has led to fines.

"It is now being predicted that Downing Street will be subjected to more fines than any other establishment in the UK."

Ross has dismissed calls to resign from his roles and questioned his fellow MSP's own record of holding his party leader to account.

"Richard Lochhead has a short memory," Ross said.

"Where was he when his party leader was found guilty of misleading Parliament by a Scottish Parliament committee.

"Nicola Sturgeon ignored the findings of a cross-party committee and Richard Lochhead had nothing to say about that."

The First Minister was eventually cleared by an independent inquiry over a possible breach of ministerial code last year.

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