MP Douglas Ross has made a gaffe within hours of becoming Scottish Tory leader after effectively conceding defeat at the next Holyrood election.

He said after the election he hoped to lead a “strong” Tory party that would provide “opposition” to the SNP.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said: “This is a gaffe royale, even by Douglas Ross’ standards. He has conceded defeat before the election has even been called yet. If that is the state of the new opposition, bring it on.”

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Ross secured the Scottish Tory leadership today without facing a contest from a colleague.

He will lead the party as an MP and task ex-leader Ruth Davidson with taking on Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood.

The vacancy was created last week when Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw quit after only five months in charge.

Candidates had to receive 100 nominations by noon yesterday and Ross was the only person to put himself forward.

However, while Davidson as leader put herself forward as a potential First Minister, Ross seems to have more limited ambitions.

In a broadcasting interview, he said: “My 100% commitment is representing the people of Scotland and I can do that effectively, both in Westminster as an MP, and with a strong team at Holyrood, that after the next election when I hope to be returned to Holyrood I hope to lead a strong, united Conservative Party which will provide that scrutiny and opposition to the SNP that we need in Scotland.”

Ross was briefly an MSP before beating the then SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson for the Moray constituency.

He resigned as a minister in the Scotland Office in May in the aftermath of government adviser Dominic Cummings’ efforts to defend a trip to Durham during lockdown.

Ross is the fifth Scottish Tory leader in the devolution era, following David McLetchie, Annabel Goldie, Davidson and Carlaw.