David­son not likely to seek re-elec­tion

● For­mer leader now says she won’t con­test her seat

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By GINA DAVID­SON

For­mer Scot­tish Ceon­ser­va­tive leader Ruth David­son has con­firmed she is un­likely to stand in an elec­tion again.

Ms David­son told the Wig­town Book Fes­ti­val that she would see out her term as Ed­in­burgh Cen­tral MSP but was poised to stand down at the next Scot­tish Par­lia­ment elec­tions, adding: “I don’t think that I will stand again.”

Ruth David­son has said she is un­likely to stand in an elec­tion again as the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive party meets to dis­cuss who will re­place her as leader amid in­ter­nal rows over the Brexit stance of her tem­po­rary re­place­ment.

Ms David­son told an au­di­ence at the Wig­town Book Fes­ti­val yes­ter­day that she would see out her term as Ed­in­burgh Cen­tral MSP but was poised to stand down at the next Scot­tish Par­lia­ment elec­tions.

She said: “It’s a fairly open se­cret that I think I’m go­ing to see out my term. I’m giv­ing my­self the op­tion to change my mind but I don’t think that I will stand again.”

Ms David­son, who gave birth to a son, Finn, in Oc­to­ber 2018 with her part­ner Jen Wil­son, re­signed as leader of her party in Au­gust, say­ing the next Holy­rood elec­tions and the pos­si­bil­ity of an early West­min­ster gen­eral elec­tion “filled her with dread”.

Her seat is likely to be one of the most hotly con­tested at the 2021 Holy­rood elec­tions, with spec­u­la­tion that for­mer SNP West­min­ster group leader An­gus Robert­son will stand for the SNP. Mr Robert­son re­sponded on so­cial me­dia to the news that Ms David­son was un­likely to run, say­ing it was a “good op­por­tu­nity for Ed­in­burgh Cen­tral to have an MSP that will stand up for Scot­tish democ­racy and place in Europe, op­pose Boris John­son and dam­ag­ing Tory poli­cies and proac­tively rep­re­sent the con­stituency”.

How­ever, Ms David­son did re­veal she would be open to “No” role in a se­cond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum. She said: “Look, I hope there won’t be a next time. I will do what I can to stop that hap­pen­ing, but if it is hap­pen­ing there is ab­so­lutely no way that I am go­ing to sit it out.

“This is my coun­try, it’s what I’ve fought for, it’s what I be­lieve in. And whether any­one wants me to hold a po­si­tion or whether they want me to go round, knock doors and hand out leaflets, I’m happy do­ing both.”

Ms David­son also said she left her lead­er­ship job be­cause she was “hope­lessly con­flicted by Brexit”. She had clashed with Boris John­son dur­ing the Brexit ref­er­en­dum and later said she would not sup­port leav­ing the EU with­out a deal.

How­ever, the Scot­tish Tory Party is now em­broiled in an in­ter­nal war over Brexit as her in­terim re­place­ment, Jack­son Car­law, changed his po­si­tion on Brexit, back­ing Boris John­son’s “do or die” ap­proach to leav­ing on Oc­to­ber 31.

He has said a fur­ther de­lay to the UK’S de­par­ture from the EU would not be sup­ported by the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives, and that the party had dropped its op­po­si­tion to a no-deal Brexit.

He has now re­port­edly said he is ready to bow out quickly as leader. To­day an “away day” in North Queens­ferry will see Tory MSPS dis­cuss their po­lit­i­cal fu­ture.

“It’s a fairly open se­cret that I think I’m go­ing to see out my term. I’m giv­ing my­self the op­tion to change my mind but I don’t think that I will stand again”

RUTH DAVID­SON

0 Ruth David­son and Jack­son Car­law MSP, the in­terim leader of the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive Party

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