DOUGLAS Ross has announced he will resign as Scottish Conservative leader after plunging his party’s election campaign into turmoil by U-turning on his pledge not to stand as an MP.

Late last week, Ross said he would run in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat, which was widely seen as his colleague David Duguid’s constituency.

Duguid was fired as the Tory candidate while in hospital, with Ross stepping in to replace him.

The move sparked anger and distrust within the Scottish Conservatives, with insiders leaking allegations that Ross had misused public funds to claim expenses accrued while refereeing to the Sunday Mail.

Amid growing backlash, the Scots Tory group leader announced on Monday morning that he would resign after the General Election.

Ross said he would also resign as an MSP should he be successful in being elected as the MP for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

Douglas Ross’s full resignation statement

In a statement released to the media announcing his upcoming resignation, Ross said: “I have served as MP, MSP and leader for over three years now and believed I could continue to do so if re-elected to Westminster, but on reflection, that is not feasible.

“I am committed to fighting and winning the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency.

“Should I be given the honour to represent the people and communities of this new seat, they should know being their MP would receive my complete focus and attention.

READ MORE: John Swinney demands answers from Douglas Ross over expenses claims

“I will therefore stand down as leader following the election on July 4, once a successor is elected.

“Should I win the seat, I will also stand down as an MSP to make way for another Scottish Conservative representative in Holyrood.

“My party has a chance to beat the SNP in key seats up and down Scotland, including in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

“We must now come together and fully focus on doing exactly that.”

What are the opposition parties saying?

Soon after Ross announced his plans to resign, Alba Party leader Alex Salmond quipped it was "the first case of a rat deserting a sinking ship whilst simultaneously trying to clamber aboard a gravy train".

The former first minister added: "Douglas Ross requires to resign as candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray Easy where he stabbed David Duguid in the back. 

“Ross is totally devoid of honour."

Speaking at the Alba General Election campaign launch last Friday, Salmond noted that Ross was running in his home constituency and warned that locals there would not tolerate how Duguid was treated, adding: "Douglas Ross is going to get his comeuppance."

Pete Wishart, the SNP's candidate in Perth and Kinross-shire, also condemned Ross.

The National:

He wrote on social media: "He simply had to go but this Conservative campaign could not get any more chaotic and self-destructive.

"Hopefully this will end the reign of angry, agitated Scottish Conservatism, but somehow I doubt it ..."

And Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “At times like these it is customary to say something conciliatory about a departing MSP, but Douglas Ross has been perhaps the worst leader in the Scottish Tories’ history and the Scottish Parliament and indeed, Scottish politics, will be well rid of him.

“He embodies everything that is wrong with the Tory party in his anti-environment, anti-equality, anti-democratic pursuit of self interest, epitomised by his ill-judged swoop for David Duguid’s Westminster seat even while he recovers from serious illness. "