Douglas Ross, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, has announced that he is resigning from his government position, following the controversy over the Number 10 adviser Dominic Cummings’s trip to Durham during the lockdown.
In a letter outlining his reasons for resigning, Ross acknowledged that while Cummings’s decision to travel to Durham may have been ‘well meaning’ and intended to be in the best interests of his family: ‘Mr Cummings’s interpretation of the government advice was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done as the government asked.’ Ross added that he could not tell constituents who had lost family members and were unable to visit their sick relatives that ‘they were all wrong and one senior advisor to the government was right’.
The Moray MP said he had waited to hear the full details of the situation before commenting publicly, but there were aspects of Dominic Cummings’s explanation which he had trouble with, and so was resigning as a government minister.
In many ways Ross is a surprising departure from the government’s ranks. The MP backed Boris Johnson during the second round of the Tory leadership contest in 2019, and was considered a rising star in the party. He has been Moray’s MP since 2017, and this was his first Government position since being elected. Considering that Boris Johnson has an 80-seat majority and we appear to be several years away from another general election, it seems likely that Ross has sacrificed his chances to have a ministerial career for many years. The fact that Ross is not one of the ‘usual suspects’ in the parliamentary Conservative party, who have been critical of either Dominic Cummings or Boris Johnson in the past, will certainly worry Downing Street, who will now fear that further resignations may follow.