Regional list MSP picked to fight Borders by-election for Tories

Rachael Hamilton is hoping to swap her regional list Holyrood seat for a Borders constituency one.
Rachael Hamilton is hoping to swap her regional list Holyrood seat for a Borders constituency one.
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The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has named its candidate to fight for the Borders seat at Holyrood vacated by John Lamont last week.

South of Scotland list MSP Rachael Hamilton was chosen as the Conservatives’ candidate for next month’s Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire by-election at a selection meeting last night.

The by-election is to take place on Thursday, June 8, the same day as the snap UK Parliament general election announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last month.

It was called following the resignation of Mr Lamont as an MSP to fight, for the fourth time, for the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk UK Parliament seat currently held by the Scottish National Party’s Calum Kerr.

Mrs Hamilton, the Tories’ tourism and small business spokesperson, will stand down as a regional MSP, as required by Holyrood rules, to vie for the seat North Ayrshire-born Mr Lamont, 41, had held, in various formats, since 2007.

The 46-year-old, co-owner of the Buccleuch Arms Hotel in St Boswells with her husband Billy, said: “I am honoured to have been selected as the Scottish Conservative candidate for the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire by-election.

“John Lamont has been a fantastic and extremely hard-working MSP, so I know I have some big shoes to fill.

“However, I promise that if elected in June, I will continue with his hard work.

“Just like in the general election contest, this by-election will be between me and whoever the SNP decides to select.

“The Borders deserves a hard-working MSP who will stand up for local services, not someone whose number one priority is breaking up the United Kingdom.”

Mr Lamont has given his backing to his would-be successor, saying: “I am very pleased that Rachael has been selected to contest my former seat.

“Rachael has worked closely with me for a number of years and knows what goes into representing the Borders.

“She has already proved herself to be a hard-working MSP for the south of Scotland and, as a business owner in the Borders, will be an excellent MSP for the area.”

Herefordshire-born Mrs Hamilton lives in Maxton, near St Boswells.

She has been a regional list MSP since May last year after failing in her bid to win the East Lothian seat from Labour’s Iain Gray.

She is also a director of Woman2Win Scotland, an organisation dedicated to increasing the number of Conservative women in Parliament and in public life.