Douglas Ross has apologised to supporters after he plunged his party’s general election campaign into chaos.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday morning, the Scottish Conservative leader denied he was a "lame duck" despite his promise to resign.

He also said he had been in touch with David Duguid, the incumbent candidate ousted for being sick.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross denies Tory MSPs asked him to resign as party leader

Mr Ross stunned colleagues yesterday when he unexpectedly announced his intention to stand down as leader after the July 4 vote.

It is believed to be the first time that a UK political leader has quit during a general election campaign.

Mr Ross's resignation came on the eve of the publication of the Tory manifesto. Overnight it emerged that he had not told Rishi Sunak in advance of his decision to stand down. 

He upset some of his MSPs last week after he announced his intention to run for Westminster, despite previously promising to commit his energies to being leader of the Tory group at the Scottish Parliament. 

Mr Ross said he would stand in the new Aberdeenshire North & Moray East constituency, replacing, Mr Duguid, who, at the last minute, was declared too ill to campaign by the Party’s Management Board.

There was unease among Tory MSPs and activists over the decision, particularly as Mr Duguid insisted he was well enough to stand.

One person in the party was so unhappy they leaked information about Mr Ross’s expenses to the Sunday Mail, including suggestions that he broke parliamentary rules by claiming for travel to football matches where he was working as a referee.

Mr Ross has denied that.

(Image: PA)

The Scottish Tory leader has planned on speaking to journalists inside the King's Theatre in Edinburgh, which is currently being refurbished thanks, in part, to £2m worth of levelling-up funding from the UK Government.

However, there were too many journalists and the press conference took place on the streets outside for health and safety reasons.

At one point a broadcast interview was interrupted when a bin lorry stopped nearby to empty some blue bins.

Asked if he thought she should apologise to Scottish Tory voters for the farce of the last few days, He said: “Yeah, I'm sorry.”

He added: “This has not been good enough. That's not how I planned the campaign. I didn't expect to be announcing that I will be standing down during the middle of the campaign but I had to take a decision reflecting on what colleagues and others have said.

“I think it is the right decision for the party that after the election on July 4 we will start the process to elect a new leader and that new leader will have plenty of time to build up and continue the strong work that we've seen as a party across the country to take us into the 2026 Scottish parliamentary elections.”

He admitted it had been a “very challenging few days.”

“I'm not trying to ignore that or run away from that,” he added.

Mr Ross said none of his MSPs had approached him but he was aware of what they had said through anonymous briefings to the press.

He said he understood that his decision to stand for Westminster “wasn't universally popular with colleagues”

In the statement announcing his intention to resign, he said he would quit Holyrood if he was returned to the Commons, but would remain as an MSP if he failed in his general election bid.

He will remain as leader until a successor is elected. 

Mr Ross said he would not be endorsing anyone in any contest.

"I think it's right that we have a contest where individual candidates assess what they can bring to the job and the platform they would put to members and to the country."

Asked if he had been in touch with Mr Duguid, he said: "I've messaged David Duguid and I was very grateful to get a message back."

He added: "I offered to speak to him and he said at the moment he would prefer to text as we did and hopefully we'll have an opportunity to speak later."

Asked by the Herald if thought Mr Sunak could win the election, Mr Ross did not say yes.

“I am going up and down the country, seeking the votes for the Scottish Conservatives, visiting key seats up and down the country.

"Because in key seats up and down the country voters can unite behind the Scottish Conservatives to deliver a local champion focused on the issues that really matter to them, rather than a nationalist MP who will be obsessed with independence."

READ MORE: Conservatives launch manifesto ahead of General Election

As Mr Ross was campaigning, the SNP's depute leader wrote to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the body charged with overseeing MPs' expenses, asking them to investigate Mr Ross's claims.

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “If these allegations were fully substantiated, it would mean that Mr Ross has been abusing his public-funded Westminster expenses to unfairly fund his receipt of another, separate salary.

“It would amount to another Westminster expenses scandal carried out by the current leader of the Scottish Tory Party.

“Given the seriousness of this matter, it is in the public interest for these allegations to be investigated immediately.”

IPSA has confirmed it will look into the allegations.

The body said it was not yet at the stage of a formal investigation and that it "will work with the former MP to clarify the situation."

Asked during his media interviews if he was an expenses cheat, Mr Ross said: “No, I am not.”