Ruth Davidson resignation due to ‘personal and professional’ reasons

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.

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

Ruth Davidson. AFP/GettyRuth Davidson. AFP/Getty
Ruth Davidson. AFP/Getty

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.

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“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 power- hungry 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.

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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 – going up against pro-Leave Mr 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.