‘Per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rea­sons’

The Scotsman - - PARLIAMENT SHUTDOWN - By CHRIS GREEN AND PARIS GOURTSOYAN­NIS By PARIS GOURTSOYAN­NIS West­min­ster Cor­re­spon­dent

Ruth David­son will an­nounce her res­ig­na­tion as leader of the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives today, cit­ing both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rea­sons, The Scots­man un­der­stands.

Sources close to her said she had grown in­creas­ingly “un­com­fort­able” about her party’s po­si­tion on Brexit un­der Boris John­son but was also “worn out” af­ter eight years in charge.

Ms David­son, who cam­paigned for Re­main ahead of 2016’s ref­er­en­dum, has re­peat­edly clashed with the Prime Min­is­ter over his ap­proach to the UK’S de­par­ture from the EU.

Scot­tish Tory sources said she­hadal­ready­been­plan­ning to re­sign be­fore his con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to sus­pend Par­lia­ment, which caused fresh con­ster­na­tion in the party’s ranks.

They said she had been strug­gling to jug­gle her work as party leader with her in­creas­ingly hec­tic fam­ily life since the ar­rival of her son Finn last Oc­to­ber.

“It’s gen­uinely a mix of per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rea­sons, it’s a move she’s been con­sid­er­ing for a while,” one said. But they added: “She’s un­com­fort­able about the Brexit di­rec­tion.”

It is un­der­stood that Ms David­son has been dis­cussing her plans with se­nior party fig­ures in Ed­in­burgh and Lon­don over the past few weeks.

Yes­ter­day she came un­der fresh pres­sure to speak out against Mr John­son over his de­ci­sion to sus­pend Par­lia­ment, with the SNP ac­cus­ing her of go­ing into “hid­ing”.

While Ms David­son did not give in­ter­views yes­ter­day, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive con­sti­tu­tion spokesman Adam Tomkins – seen as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to her – de­fended the de­ci­sion to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment.

“Po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents are be­ing pre­dictably hys­ter­i­cal about this move,” Mr Tomkins said.

“And of course, Nicola Stur­geon wasted no time in us­ing this as another way of ag­i­tat­ing for independen­ce.

“MPS within Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems need to re­mem­ber they were pre­sented with three op­por­tu­ni­ties to vote for a deal and they spurned that op­por­tu­nity each time.

“The aim is still to strike a deal with the EU and, if and when that hap­pens, there will be plenty of time for MPS to ei­ther vote for that or vote for a no-deal Brexit.”

Scot­tish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said: “If the ru­mours are true, then the loss of Ruth David­son as leader of the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives will be a real blow to her party.

“This shows that, even within his own ranks, Boris John­son is al­ready los­ing sup­port and cred­i­bil­ity.

“Scot­land and the UK needs a gen­eral elec­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble to oust him from Down­ing Street and elect a Labour government.”

Scot­tish Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Wil­lie Ren­nie said: “It’s no sur­prise Ruth David­son has run out of rea­sons to stand by this dan­ger­ous and pow­er­hun­gry Prime Min­is­ter.

“There must be lots of other like-minded Con­ser­va­tives who are hor­ri­fied at this bla­tant abuse of power and can’t stom­ach be­ing party to this destructiv­e agenda any longer. They should take this as the sig­nal to aban­don ship.”

Un­der Ms David­son’s lead­er­ship, the Scot­tish To­ries re­turned 13 MPS at the 2017 gen­eral elec­tion, their best re­sult in more than three decades.

She has been widely cred­ited for re­viv­ing the party’s for­tunes north of the Bor­der, swelling its ranks at Holy­rood as well as at West­min­ster.

How­ever, one Scot­tish Tory MP said they were “un­com­fort­able” with the Prime Min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment and warned that it would be “much more dif­fi­cult” to de­fend those seats in a snap gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign dur­ing or im­me­di­ately af­ter a no-deal Brexit on 31 Oc­to­ber.

Ms David­son clashed with the Prime Min­is­ter dur­ing the 2016 Euro­pean ref­er­en­dum – goin­gu­pa­gain­st­pro-leavemr John­son in a tele­vised de­bate at Wem­b­ley.

And af­ter Theresa May quit as PM, the Scot­tish Tory leader backed can­di­dates other than Mr John­son in the race to suc­ceed her, favour­ing first Sa­jid Javid and then Jeremy Hunt.

She re­turned to front­line pol­i­tics ear­lier this year af­ter tak­ing ma­ter­nity leave.

She and part­ner Jen Wil­son wel­comed their son Finn in Oc­to­ber 2018 af­ter Ms David­son un­der­went IVF treat­ment.

No-deal op­po­nents have few op­tions and lit­tle time to de­cide

On Tues­day, op­po­si­tion lead­ers who gath­ered to ham­mer out tac­tics for stop­ping a no-deal Brexit did so with a “sense of ur­gency”, ac­cord­ing to the SNP leader Ian Black­ford.

Just how ur­gent was con­firmed yes­ter­day morn­ing as Ja­cob Reesmogg took an early flight to Aberdeen­shire for a meet­ing with the Queen that se­cured an un­prece­dented pro­ro­ga­tion of Par­lia­ment – re­mark­able for its length and the po­lit­i­cal cir­cum­stances, rather than its tim­ing.

The pre-emp­tive move by Down­ing Street to pro­tect its abil­ity to de­liver Brexit on 31 Oc­to­ber leaves op­po­nents of a no-deal sce­nario with lim­ited op­tions and a nar­row win­dow to act on them. It al­ready looked like a gen­eral elec­tion was on the cards;

0 Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Move­ment in Scot­land protest on the Royal Mile against Boris John­son’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend Par­lia­ment, far right. Prince Charles at Bal­moral, right

0 Ruth David­son had be­come ‘un­com­fort­able’ over Brexit

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