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Sat, 4 April 2020

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By Hft
By Dods General Election Hub 2019

Ruth Davidson tells opposition MPs: 'For God's sake, back a Brexit deal,' as she quits as Scottish Tory leader

Ruth Davidson tells opposition MPs: 'For God's sake, back a Brexit deal,' as she quits as Scottish Tory leader
4 min read

Ruth Davidson has urged MPs to publicly pledge to back any new Brexit deal as she announced her resignation as Scottish Conservative leader.


The MSP, who steps down after almost eight years in the post, said she believed Boris Johnson's claims that he is attempting to find a new deal with the EU after she "stared him in the eyes".

Ms Davidson - who became a mother last October - said her decision to quit was driven by both political and personal reasons and admitted she felt "dread" at the thought of leaving her family to lead her party through future elections.

But in a final impassioned plea for Westminster MPs to work together to break the Brexit deadlock, she said: "Prime Minister, get us a deal in the European Union.

"And what I say to people who say they want to avoid a no-deal is what I have just said. If the Prime Minister brings a deal back to the House of Commons, as I know he is trying to do, for god's sake get behind it, and this time, at the fourth time of asking, vote for it."

Ms Davidson - at one time tipped as a future Prime Minister - was one of the main pro-Remain voices during the EU referendum, putting her at odds with Vote Leave boss Mr Johnson.

She backed Sajid Javid in the Conservative leadership contest, before voting for Mr Johnson's opponents after he left the race.

But responding to questions about tensions between her and Mr Johnson, she added: "There is a lot that has been written about my relationship witht he Prime Minsiter. 

"I went down to Downing Street last week to meet him in a private meeting. I stared him right in the eye and I asked him outright: 'Look, I need to know, are you trying to get a deal or not.' 

"And he catergorically assured me that he was, he beleives that his efforts (at the G7 summit) in Biarritz has helped open the door a crack." 

She added: "I know what would help further would be for people who want to avoid no-deal to come out and say that if a deal is brought back to Parliament that they would back it at this term as they have failed to do three times already.

"So, I want him to get that deal and I believe that he and his government are working towards and I support him in that effort."

"Different Choice"

But the 40-year-old MSP said she was ultimately choosing to step away from frontline politics after the birth of her son, Finn, led her to make a "different choice".

In a letter to Scottish Conservative chairman, Robert Forman, she said: "As I look to the future, I see the Scottish election due in 2021 and a credible threat from our opponents to force a general election before then. 

"Having led our party through seven national elections and two referenda, I know the efforts, hours and travel required to fight such campaigns successfully. 

She added: "I have to be honest that where the idea of getting on the road to fight two elections in 20 months would once have fired me up, the threat of spending hundreds of hours away from my home and family now fills me with dread. That is no way to lead."

“Additionally, I fear that having tried to be a good leader over the years, I have proved a poor daughter, sister, partner and friend. The party and my work has always come first, often at the expense of commitments to loved ones. The arrival of my son means I now make a different choice."

Ms Davidson said she would stay on as MSP for Edinburgh Central until at least the 2021 Holyrood elections, but did not commit to remaining in the Scottish Parliament after that.

Her resignation will come as a major blow to the Scottish Conservatives who have seen a significant resurgence under her leadership. 

She was widely credited with helping Theresa May cling to power in 2017 after delivering 13 Scottish seats. 

Responding to the news, the former Prime Minister tweeted: "Sorry to see Ruth Davidson step down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Thank you for all you've done for our party and our Union over the last 8 years, and enjoy your well-deserved family time with Jen and Finn."

Ms Davidson's departure is also a blow for the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, with many tipping her as the person to lead any anti-independence drive in a future referendum.

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