Tory leadership race: Ruth Davidson backs Rishi Sunak, but urges both candidates to 'keep it clean'

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has backed Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister – but urged both candidates for the top job to “keep it clean” in the contest.

Baroness Davidson, who stood down from her job at Holyrood in 2019, declared her support for the former chancellor in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday after the field was whittled to two, with Mr Sunak set to take on foreign secretary Liz Truss.

In contrast, current Scottish leader Douglas Ross – along with Scottish party chairman Craig Hoy – said he would not reveal support for any candidate in the race.

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Ruth Davidson will be on the campaign trail in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa FergusonRuth Davidson will be on the campaign trail in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Ruth Davidson will be on the campaign trail in Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Mr Sunak has a “first-rate intellect”, the former Tory leader wrote.

“He’s not just a numbers man – although let me tell you how vanishingly rare it is in the Commons to have someone who really understands fiscal matters and can shape the weather, rather than just commentate on it,” she added.

“He also brings professionalism and seriousness of purpose, which will, I contend, be of huge help to those charged with steering the ship of state under his captaincy, and be a welcome relief after the sometimes chaotic juggernaut of the departing Prime Minister (however effective such chaos might be on any given issue).”

Charisma, according to Baroness Davidson, is required to “inspire a following”, but she added some degree of “boring managerialism” is needed in government.

Rishi Sunak can do both – inspire an audience and get things running effectively,” she said.

She also praised the former chancellor’s work in the Treasury during the pandemic, saying he “charted a steady course through Covid”.

Baroness Davidson also defended Mr Sunak against criticism levelled at him over the past 12 months, including over the tax status of his wife and his police fine for attending a Downing Street party during lockdown.

She also issued a warning to both sides in the contest in the interest of party unity.

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“Let’s cut out the blue on blue, it’s not edifying,” she said on Times Radio.

“Yes, have a clash of ideas, yes – absolutely – make sure that we get our debate out into the open. The country deserves it, the members deserve it, the voters deserve it.

“But let’s keep it clean.”



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