'World Cup Dream Over' For MP Who Missed Welfare Vote To Referee Football Match
27 October 2017, 10:24
Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross has said he will no longer referee football matches while Parliament is sitting.
The Moray MP faced criticism for missing a Commons vote on welfare policy to help officiate at a Champions League match.
Mr Ross said it meant he will no longer be able to referee at the majority of international matches, adding that his "dream" of officiating at next year's World Cup is now over.
He defended his decision to miss a debate earlier this month, stating that he knew he would not be able to speak in it, while arrangements had been put in place to ensure his absence would not affect any vote.
However, he said he had reflected on the criticism he received.
He said his role as an MP was his "number one priority", and he has realised he could no longer do both jobs.
In a statement given to local press in his constituency, Mr Ross said: "I'm greatly indebted to the many local people who expressed their support for me to continue to referee as well as be their MP.
"And while I have one of the highest voting records of any MP and many of my political opponents, and fiercest critics of late, have several outside jobs and interests, I know that the fury my last match caused will be repeated any time I am appointed to a match when Parliament is sitting in the future."
Mr Ross had missed the Universal Credit debate to work as an assistant referee at the Barcelona v Olympiakos game in Spain on October 18.
Theresa May was forced to defend him when SNP MP John McNally brandished a red card during Prime Minister's Questions, saying members of the public were ''expected to turn up to their day jobs or face sanctions''.
Mr Ross was elected to Westminster in June, ousting SNP depute leader Angus Robertson. He previously served as an MSP at Holyrood.