On Air Now
25 April 2017, 15:02
A Tory MSP has announced he will stand down at Holyrood to focus on the fight for a target seat at Westminster.
John Lamont, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, will resign from the Scottish Parliament to focus on campaigning in the General Election.
He is contesting the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency, which covers much of the same area as his current role.
Formerly held by ex-Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, the seat is the most marginal for the SNP, with Mr Lamont being defeated by the nationalists' Calum Kerr by just 328 votes in 2015.
Mr Lamont will step down from Holyrood with effect from May 4, with Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh expected to set the date for a by-election shortly.
He said it had been "a great privilege'' to serve as an MSP for the last 10 years and pledged to continue to ``put local people before party politics'' if elected as an MP.
"This is one of the most important General Elections Scotland has ever had,'' Mr Lamont said.
"In the Borders, it will be straight fight between myself and the SNP.
"I have decided to stand down as an MSP to allow me to focus all of my energy on this important contest and to ensure that the electorate have a clear choice between the two contenders.
"I've taken this decision because I believe that I am best-placed to help increase the number of Scottish Conservative and Unionist MPs at Westminster so we can stop the SNP bandwagon in its tracks.
"With this decision, no-one can doubt my commitment to representing the Borders to the best of my ability.''
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "During his 10 years in the Scottish Parliament, John has built up a formidable reputation as a dedicated community campaigner for the Borders and someone who will always put his constituents first.
"Voters in the Borders can either pick John Lamont, one of Scotland's hardest-working local campaigners, who will put the Borders first and who will oppose Nicola Sturgeon's damaging plans for a second referendum, or they can pick another nationalist who will continue to pursue the obsession with taking Scotland out of the United Kingdom.''