Boris Johnson appoints former Edinburgh councillor as his new adviser on union
Boris Johnson will get his advice on how to tackle the SNP and demands for a second independence referendum from a former Edinburgh councillor who has been director of the Scottish Conservatives for 18 years.
Mark McInnes, who has been credited with spear-heading a Tory revival in Scotland at recent elections, has been appointed as the latest special adviser to the Prime Minister on matters of the constitution.
His move to Downing Street was welcomed by former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who said it meant that the UK government was “finally getting it”.
Mr McInnes, who at one time represented the Meadows and Morningside ward on Edinburgh City Council, will take up the new role in the wake of the collapse of the so-called “union unit”, set up by Mr Johnson.
The unit was supposed to help embed “Union policy making and Union thinking” across government, however it was replaced in February by a “Cabinet Union Strategy Committee” after its head Oliver Lewis quit amid claims his position was made “untenable” by others in Number 10. His departure followed that of former Scottish Conservative MP Luke Graham earlier the same month.
Now Mr McInnes, who also sits in the House of Lords as Baron McInnes of Kilwinning, will leave his 18-year role as director of the Scottish Conservatives to act as an adviser to the Prime Minister.
He said: “I want to say a sincere ‘thank you’ to all the party members, activists and supporters who it has been my pleasure to work with over the years.
“Together we have achieved so much, helping win the 2014 referendum, contributing to the election of Conservative governments, and firmly establishing the Scottish Conservatives as Scotland’s second biggest party and real alternative to the SNP. I know that the party will go on to even greater success in future.”
Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “On behalf of the whole party, I wish Mark every success in his new role.
“He has been central to the renewal of our party over the last decade and has made an invaluable contribution to the Conservative and Unionist cause as director, as a constituency agent before that and, as we all were to begin with, a voluntary activist.
“Now he is moving on to fresh challenges and he does so with our thanks and best wishes.”
On Twitter, Ruth Davidson said: “News just dropped that @Morningsidemark moving into number 10 operation as advisor on Scotland (and other issues). Union unit model stood down in favour of more traditional advisory network. Thoroughly positive all round – both in design and personnel. HMG finally getting it.”
And Scottish Tory party chairman, Rab Forman added: “After 18 years as director of the Scottish party, Mark will be leaving us to take up a new position as a special adviser to the Prime Minister.
“Over the last two decades, Mark has been instrumental in driving forward the revival of our party in Scotland and he moves on from his post with our grateful thanks and best wishes for the future.”
His successor as director will, the party said, be appointed in due course.