Scotland politics

David Mundell: The Remainer Johnson did not want to keep

David Mundell Image copyright PA Media
Image caption David Mundell served in the Scotland Office for nine years

"Disappointed, but not surprised" was the reaction from David Mundell who was told by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson he would not be keeping his job as Secretary of State for Scotland.

The 57-year-old went into the Scotland Office in 2010 as a junior minister and secured the department's top job on 11 May 2015 - four days after the election of that year.

As Scotland's sole Conservative MP, he was an obvious - and some might say only - choice for then Prime Minister David Cameron.

At the 2016 EU referendum, Mr Mundell backed the remain view alongside 62% of the those who had voted in Scotland.

Although Theresa May's gamble of securing a hefty Tory majority at a surprise June 2017 election did not pay off, there were positives in Scotland - 13 to be precise.

That's the number of Conservative MPs who were elected to Westminster seats, making it the party's best performance in Scotland since 1983.

Mr Mundell remained with the Scotland Office, being supported this time by Tories who had taken SNP constituencies, including that of former First Minister Alex Salmond.

A part-time job?

Since 1999 the Cabinet role of Scottish secretary has been a peculiar one for its holder.

With powers going from Westminster to the new Holyrood just before the turn of the century and even more being dispatched after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the claim had been laid that this was nothing more than a bit job.

But for Mr Mundell handling the critics was never a part-time endeavour.

Firstly, there were lots of them. Take the usual opposition of Labour and the Lib Dems; match them with Scottish Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems, and then throw in the SNP at both Westminster and Holyrood.

Secondly, with 12 Scottish Tory companions in the House of Commons Mr Mundell needed to consult, listen and lobby in a way not necessary when he was on his own.

And thirdly, any thought that a majority "no" vote in the Scottish independence referendum had settled that question for a generation were dashed when the UK backed Brexit.

Since the result of the referendum (that's the EU one of June 2016) Mr Mundell - a Jeremy Hunt and not a Boris Johnson backer - has been a worried man.

To all who would listen he declared that a no-deal Brexit could "threaten the continuance of the United Kingdom".

But Mr Mundell's voice has now been removed from the Cabinet room.

Image caption Ruth Davidson and David Mundell showed off the new group of Scottish Tory MPs at an event in Stirling

Although no longer with a role in government he remains MP for the people of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

The father-of-three is a man who knows politics and his constituency well, having been born in Dumfries and schooled in Lockerbie.

His entrance into the political arena was typical of so many - he joined the Young Conservatives at the age of 14; went on to study law at Edinburgh University; after graduating he became a lawyer and was elected a local councillor.

However, that early journey was not with one party. Mr Mundell's head was turned by the Social Democrats which he backed in the early 1980s.

First to ask a question

He was elected an SDP councillor, serving on Dumfries and Galloway Council until 1987.

By 1999 he was back with the Tories and found himself part of the new intake of the new Scottish Parliament where he was the first MSP to ask a question.

He was returned to Holyrood in 2003, but in 2005 he set his sights on becoming an MP and stood for the Westminster seat of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale.

Mr Mundell, whose nickname among political journalist is "fluffy", beat the Labour candidate by 1,739 votes and headed down to the House of Commons as the only Conservative MP in Scotland.

Image caption There are more pandas in Scotland than Scottish Tory MPs - so the joke went

When Edinburgh Zoo welcomed two pandas from China a running joke started that there were more pandas in Scotland than there were Scottish Tory MPs.

But the Conservative Party in Scotland no longer looks like an endangered species given its current tally of 13 MPs and 31 MSPs.

Much credit for its improved electoral showing has been attributed to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who, on learning about the sacking said: "In David Mundell, two Prime Ministers have benefitted hugely from having a trusted advisor and committed unionist."

'It's the right thing for me'

Being pushed out of your job so publicly is a hard one to take.

But for Mr Mundell there have been tougher moments in the media spotlight.

More than three years ago he talked about something which he said was "harder than standing for election, speaking in the House of Commons or being cross-examined on television".

When 2016 was just a few days old, Mr Mundell wrote on his personal blog that it was time to "acknowledge in public as well as in private" that he was gay.

It was a public message which brought a chorus of support from across the political spectrum.

On that announcement he said: "I don't know what the wider reaction will be, but I know it's the right thing for me to do".

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