Ruth Davidson: Theresa May’s critics must ‘quit the noise’

  • 14 September 2018

Ruth Davidson
Image caption Ms Davidson is due to begin her maternity leave next month

The Scottish Conservative leader has urged Theresa May’s critics to “quit the noise” and “let the woman do her job”.

Ruth Davidson said the prime minister should be given the space to negotiate the best deal possible with the EU.

And she called on the rival factions within the Tory party to recognise the need for compromise over Brexit.

She also ruled out leaving the Scottish Parliament for Westminster before the next Holyrood election in 2021.

Ms Davidson, who is due to give birth to her first child next month, was speaking to BBC Scotland amid mounting speculation about the prime minister’s future.

The MP George Freeman has openly called for a leadership contest next summer after Brexit is settled.

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Image caption There has been speculation about possible challenges to Theresa May’s leadership in recent weeks

There have also been strong rumours that former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, is considering challenging Mrs May for the leadership after recently describing her Brexit plans as a “suicide vest”.

Ms Davidson said the prime minister was currently in the midst of some of the “toughest and most complex” negotiations about the future of the country since the Second World War.

‘Duty to deliver’

And she urged politicians from all sides to temper their language during the current “febrile” debate over Brexit.

She added: “What I would say to a number of my colleagues who are making noises right now is let the woman do her job, let her deliver for the country.

“There is a really important job to do right now. The prime minister is applying herself – this is her duty to deliver for the country. Let her do it and let’s get behind her as she does it.

“She’s the prime minister of this country and she needs to have people quit the noises off and let her deliver in this really crucial moment in our country’s history. “

Image caption Ms Davidson clashed with Boris Johnson in a live TV debate ahead of the Brexit referendum

Ms Davidson – who has been tipped by some as a future leader of the UK party – said she had backed Ms May’s leadership bid two years ago, and would continue to support her now and for however long she wished to remain in the job.

She said decisions made in the weeks ahead would “define the road of travel” for the country over the coming years, and said she was keen to give the prime minister the space to negotiate the best possible Brexit deal for the country.

‘Committed Remainer’

She also predicted that, when a deal is agreed with the EU and comes back to the House of Commons for consideration, it would “focus the minds” of MPs.

Ms Davidson added: “As a committed Remainer I am not going to get everything I want out of this deal, and neither is a committed Brexiteer that is on the other side, but deals are about compromise.”

Ms Davidson gave a wide-ranging interview to BBC Scotland, with the other topics covered including:

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Rumours she will quit Holyrood for Westminster

Ms Davidson said her job was in Scotland. She said she wanted to retain her Edinburgh Central seat at the next Holyrood election in 2021 and become the country’s next first minister – and the first Conservative first minister.

She added: “I am going to be based here and I am going to be taking on Nicola Sturgeon in 2021.”

Divisions within the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs over Brexit

Despite Ms Davidson being a high-profile supporter of Remain during the referendum, some of her party’s 13 MPs are hardline Brexiteers – with Ross Thomson in particular being a vocal critic of the prime minister’s Chequers proposals.

Ms Davidson said all 650 MPs had differing opinions over Brexit, ranging from those who still want to remain in the EU to those Brexiteers who wish to have almost no relationship with the EU in the future.

She said: “Ross was a leading member of the Leave movement in Scotland, and we’ve got to remember over a million people voted to leave in Scotland, so his views are well known.

“But on areas like, for example, ensuring our fishermen get a good deal as we leave, Ross and I are as one.”

On so-called ‘Dark Money’ allegations

Ms Davidson confirmed that Richard Cook, who has been at the centre of controversy over a £425,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit campaign, remains a Scottish Conservative member but “holds no office”.

She said the Electoral Commission had already concluded that there was insufficient evidence to investigate allegations that the donation was used to circumvent spending limits for the Leave campaign.

She said: “This donation isn’t linked to the Scottish party, it wasn’t given to the Scottish party.

“It was given to another political party in another country to fight a referendum on the side that the Scottish Conservative leader was fighting against.”

Ms Davidson also insisted the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, which donates money to Conservative election campaigns, is registered with the Electoral Commission and that there was “utter transparency” about where the money comes from.

She said “almost all” Scottish Conservative candidates would have benefitted from the trust, but said she had “absolutely not” taken money from it to part-fund a campaign manager as others, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell, have done.

BBC News – Scotland

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