Why Scottish Tory MPs will no longer vote on 'English only' issues
This week the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross told his MPs to stop voting on “English only” legislation in the House of Commons.
Despite concerns over uncertainty and the benefits of being a union, Mr Ross embraced going it alone.
The move comes in the wake of the Scottish Tory leader abstaining on a Labour motion that would have seen free school meals delivered to poorer children in England during the school holidays. Despite supporting the measure north of the Border, his fellow Scottish Tory MPs followed the whip and voted with the UK government.
The decision sparked a flurry of criticism from the SNP, as most things do, but the problem arose not with his views, but in following those espoused by his party in Westminster.
Boris Johnson being leader was already a problem in Scotland, but blanket support for his policies is simply unsustainable for a party who need to stop a SNP majority next year.
The Moray MP had previously resigned as a junior minister from the Johnson government after Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown rules this year. It established Mr Ross as a principled leader and also left him in the rare position of being able to criticise Margaret Ferrier without being accused of hypocrisy.
Mr Ross’s appointment was supposed to represent a clean break away from a Prime Minister who has overseen support for Scottish independence soar to 58 per cent, as well as the resignation of Scotland’s leading law officer, Lord Keen QC.
But as his Agriculture Bill rebellion and now free school meals showed, the Scottish Tories are not being helped by their colleagues in Westminster.
Mr Ross leads five other MPs, yet does not always vote with them. Party unity is being prioritised over the Scottish Tories, putting the union at risk.
This lack of unity in a group so small is extremely Lib Dem, and does not scream strong leadership ahead of next year's elections.
Avoiding these votes creates distance with the main party brand and makes Mr Ross the face of Scottish policy, not the PM.
Leaving English matters alone allows Mr Ross and his colleagues to give themselves a better chance of avoiding the numerous rakes the PM has left so liberally on the floor for them.
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