THE Tories are stepping up their targeting of former health secretary Michael Matheson ahead of a motion in parliament calling on him to resign as an MSP.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will hold a campaign event in Matheson’s constituency on Monday and call on opposition parties to back a motion looking to force his resignation.

There is currently no way to force a sitting MSP out of office, but a successful parliamentary motion calling on them to quit would exert immense pressure. 

Labour and the LibDems have also called on Matheson to resign after he tried to bill the taxpayer £11,000 for iPad roaming charges – and then lied about how he had racked up such a high bill.

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On Thursday, Holyrood’s standards committee recommended sanctions against Matheson including 54 days without pay and a 27-day suspension.

However, the SNP have said that Tory MSP Annie Wells “prejudiced” the committee by declaring her conclusions before its investigation began and have said they will not support the recommended sanctions.

The Tories would need the backing of all five of Holyrood’s opposition parties in order for their motion calling on Matheson to resign to pass.

The SNP's General Election candidate for Falkirk, Toni Giugliano, reacted to Ross's visit on social media.

He wrote: "I see Douglas Ross is campaigning in Falkirk today. He leads the party of Brexit, partygate, Michelle Mone’s PPE scandal, Rwanda, the rape clause. He stood by Boris Johnson and Liz Truss who crashed the economy. In Falkirk - only the SNP can send the Tories packing."

On Sunday the Greens said they would not back “the unscrupulous and vindictive calls” for Matheson to resign, accusing the Conservatives of “being not just shallow and callous, but abusing their positions as parliamentarians through partisan self-interest”.

The National: Douglas Ross pictured in the Scottish Parliament

Ahead of his campaign visit to Falkirk West, Matheson’s constituency, Ross (above) said Matheson’s actions had been “clearly unacceptable for any MSP”.

The Scottish Tory leader went on: “In any other line of work, Michael Matheson would lose his job. MSPs cannot put themselves on a higher pedestal than others. We must be held to the same standards.

“However anyone in the chamber in other parties feels about Michael Matheson personally, the fact is he made a false claim for £11,000 of taxpayers’ money and then lied about it to the public, press and parliament.

“A cross-party group found he broke the MSP Code of Conduct and polls show that the public overwhelmingly agree that he should resign.

“MSPs must stand up for the integrity of the Scottish Parliament and restore public trust by voting in favour of our motion calling for Michael Matheson’s resignation.”

On Sunday, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said Matheson had made mistakes and “should be punished”, but he declined to support the committee’s recommended 27-day suspension.

“You've had one member of the standards committee making public statements before she even considered the evidence.

“And also she was the person, apparently, that moved the expansion in terms of the punishment,” Brown said.

He added: “I think every every person in the Parliament, every trade unionist, every person that's been through a judicial process, wants it to have integrity, and it's not had that, which is a separate issue from the fact that Michael Matheson made mistakes and he should be punished for it.”

Matheson has said he will accept a punishment agreed by parliament but has insisted he will not resign as an MSP.