SCOTTISH Tory leadership hopeful Douglas Ross plans to juggle the top job with his role as a professional football referee.

The Moray MP, who announced his candidacy after the sudden departure of Jackson Carlaw, is aiming to win a Holyrood seat at next May’s election.

But the former minister says he also wants to hang on to his Westminster role until the next General Election.

Ross, who told Bauer Media of his intention to hold two seats concurrently, added that he would not give up his part-time job as an assistant referee.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross confirms Scottish Conservative leadership bid

He said: “I think it's useful to have an outside interest that people can engage with. Now it may not be particularly popular in garnering votes, but I think it's useful to be able to say to people that I'm not a one dimensional politician who can only think about politics.

“I have an interest in football, it's been a big part of my life for a number of years and there's a sense of pride when I pull on my referee shirt with the Scottish FA badge on it. You know I'm a proud member of the Scottish FA refereeing fraternity, and it's something I've wanted to continue. But my first and foremost priority will be representing the people of Moray and the people across Scotland.”

Ross’s refereeing has prompted criticism on several occasions in recent years.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross missed BBC immigration debate to referee football match​

Back in 2017, Ross was forced to give up on his dream of refereeing at the World Cup after he was criticised for missing Westminster ­business to officiate at a match in Barcelona.

And last year, he was accused of breaking a promise to constituents after signing up to run the line at a midweek Championship League game while Boris Johnson had unlawfully suspended Parliament.

In February, the then-minister was condemned after opting to officiate at a football game in Ukraine instead of appearing in a TV debate on the Tory Government’s derided immigration plans.