Tory MSP in bid for seat at Westminster

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP for the Lothian region is to stand as an MP. Picture; Neil Hanna

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP for the Lothian region is to stand as an MP. Picture; Neil Hanna

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LOTHIAN Tory MSP Miles Briggs is to stand for Westminster in the city seat where the party believes it can beat the SNP.

He has been chosen as the Conservatives’ candidate for Edinburgh South West, which Nationalist MP and justice spokeswoman Joanna Cherry won from Labour in 2015.

Much of the seat – which stretches from Haymarket to Balerno – has in the past been represented by Tories David McLetchie and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

And with Labour’s poor poll ratings, the Tories now hope to present themselves as the natural challengers to the SNP and persuade Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters to vote tactically to oust the Nationalists.

Ms Cherry won the seat two years ago with 43 per cent of the vote and a majority of 8135 over Labour.

Mr Briggs said: “I have been humbled and grateful to receive so many messages of support from local residents across Edinburgh South West who have asked me to put my name forward to contest the general election.

“I believe it is vitally important that on June 8 Scotland elects strong, positive, Scottish voices to Westminster and a group of MPs who will work in government to get the best result for Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK, not a return to the divisions of another independence referendum and the endless negative grievance politics we have seen from the SNP over the last 10 years.”

Mr Briggs stood at the last general election in 2015 in Edinburgh South and was the candidate in North East Fife in 2010.

He was elected to the Scottish Parliament last year as one of three Lothian Tory list MSPs, but would resign his Holyrood seat if he became an MP.

He said: “Over the last year I hope I have been able to demonstrate to local residents across Lothian that I will always put local people first and be a hard working campaigning representative for our great city.”

He is the Conservatives’ public health spokesman at Holyrood and has campaigned on a wide range of issues from GP surgeries to parking charges at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The Tories see the June 8 vote as an opportunity to try to roll back the SNP’s dominance.

Mr Briggs said: “At this election it is clear that the race to become the next MP for Edinburgh South West will be a two horse race between the Conservatives & Unionists and the SNP.

“I hope over the coming weeks I can persuade former Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters in Edinburgh South West as well as the many SNP voters who just want to see our country move on from the divisions of the past to lend me their support.”

Ms Cherry will be seeking re-election. She said: “Only the SNP stand between Scotland and a Tory government with an increased majority. From my work with constituents whose lives and health are being wrecked by Tory austerity I know first-hand how important it is that we protect vulnerable people from an increasingly hard-line Tory Government.”