Ruth Davidson to stay on as MSP for Edinburgh Central

RUTH Davidson is to stay on as MSP for Edinburgh Central despite her decision to quit as leader of the Scottish Tories.

Ruth Davidson cited family reasons and conflict over Brexit for her decision to quit as Scottish Tory leader
Ruth Davidson cited family reasons and conflict over Brexit for her decision to quit as Scottish Tory leader

She announced her resignation yesterday after eight years in the post, citing her role as a new mother as the main reason but also acknowledging “the conflict I have felt over Brexit”.

However, she made no criticism of Boris Johnson despite her long-standing differences with the prime minister.

Ms Davidson, who gave birth to a son, Finn, in October 2018 with her partner Jen Wilson, pointed to the next Holyrood elections in 2021 and the possibility of an early Westminster general election and the sacrifices involved.

“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.”

And she added: “I fear that having tried to be a good leader over the years, I have proved a poor daughter, sister, partner and friend.”

But rather than bow out of the Scottish Parliament altogether, sparking a by-election which the SNP would have a good chance of winning, Ms Davidson said she would continue as MSP for Edinburgh Central until 2021.

She won the seat from the Nationalists with a majority of 610 at the last election in 2016, when the Conservatives doubled their MSPs to a record 31 and the Tory vote jumped from 14 to 22 per cent.

Ms Davidson also saw the party increase its MPs from one to 13 at the general election the following year.

But she said she regarded her role in helping defeat the Yes campaign in the 2014 independence referendum as “without doubt the most important contribution of my working life”.

Asked about Brexit, Ms Davidson said she had seen Mr Johnson in London last week. “I asked him outright: ‘Are you trying to get a deal or not?’ He categorically assured me that he was.”

And she appealed to MPs to back a deal if Mr Johnson did secure one. She 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.”

Deputy leader Jackson Carlaw is expected to serve as interim leader until a new leader is elected.

But there was also speculation Ms Davidson, who is 40, could return at some stage in the future.

Jo Tanner, a friend and former Tory spin doctor, said: ”I don’t think Ruth has gone for good. I certainly would hope she would return to frontline politics in the future, but this is about time she is not going to get back with her son and that’s really important.”