POLITICS
29/08/2019 10:54 BST | Updated 29/08/2019 13:40 BST

Ruth Davidson Quits As Leader Of The Scottish Conservatives

It comes the day after Boris Johnson revealed plans to prorogue parliament.

Ruth Davidson has quit as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. 

The 40-year-old – who became leader back in November 2011 – said it had been the “privilege of my life” to serve as leader. 

However, in a letter to the Scottish Party chairman, Davidson – who became a mother last year – said the thought of spending “hundreds of hours away from my home and my family” preparing for an election “now fills me with dread”. 

“That is no way to lead,” she added. 

“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.” 

While she is resigning as leader, she will remain the MSP for Edinburgh Central until 2021.

In her resignation letter, Davidson also said she had “not hidden the conflict I have felt over Brexit”, adding that she had done her best to chart a path that respected the referendum result while also protecting Scotland’s interests. 

Her announcement comes the day after it was revealed Boris Johnson had successfully petitioned the Queen to prorogue parliament next month, a move interpreted by critics as a bid to kill off MPs’ attempts to block a no-deal Brexit. 

The prime minister has insisted the five-week suspension is to allow him to set out his “exciting” new agenda for domestic policy, but the decision has sparked anger across the political divide

Since Johnson was elected as prime minister in July, Davidson has been clear that she would not back plans to leave he EU without a deal. 

Writing ahead of Johnson’s first visit to Scotland as PM last month, Davidson said in her Scottish Mail on Sunday column: “When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union.

“I don’t think the government should pursue a no-deal Brexit and, if it comes to it, I won’t support it.” 

PA Archive/PA Images
Boris Johnson and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson embrace after The Great Debate on BBC One, on the EU Referendum.

The pair also famously clashed in a TV debate ahead of the 2016 EU referendum, when the Scottish leader accused the Leave team of telling “untruths”.

However, during a Q&A with reporters on Thursday, Davidson said Johnson had looked her in the eye and assured her he was seeking a deal. 

Calling on MPs who want to avoid no-deal to back a Brexit deal, the Scottish leader said of the prime minister: “He believes that his efforts in Biarritz has helped open the door a crack. I know that 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, in the way that they have failed to do three times already.

“So I want him to get that deal. I believe that’s what he and his government are working towards. And I support him in that efforts.”

Responding to the news of Davidson’s resignation, Johnson said she had been “instrumental in the revival of our electoral fortunes in Scotland”. 

“She should take immeasurable pride in the pivotal role she played during the Scottish independence referendum campaign, where her passionate support for our Union was crucial to the result,” the PM wrote on Twitter. 

“I will miss the incredible leadership she has given to our Party in Scotland, but am delighted she will continue to use her passion & dedication to make the case for Scotland’s place in the UK from the backbenches & beyond. I wish Ruth, Jen & Finn all the best for the future.” 

Meanwhile, Theresa May said she was sorry to see her step down. 

“Thank you for all you’ve done for our party and our Union over the past 8 years, and enjoy your well-deserved family time with Jen and Finn,” the former PM wrote. 

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said there was “no wonder” Davidson felt she must resign. 

“She is one of many Conservatives examining their consciences at this time of crisis. The people’s representatives from all the parties must unite to oppose the PM’s anti-democratic #Parliamentshutdown and disastrous no-deal Brexit.” 

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that no one would grudge Davidson more time with her son, saying “I know well the toll political leadership can take one family life”. 

“There will be opportunity later to discuss the politics of her decision - but for now, I’ll simply send my best wishes,” she added.