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Ruth Davidson rejects suggestion that Scots Tories could split from UK party

The former chairman of the Scottish Conservative party, Peter Duncan, suggested the Scottish Tories could break away.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she would not support a breakaway (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she would not support a breakaway (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ruth Davidson has rejected suggestions that the Scottish Tories could break away from the UK Conservative party.

Writing in the Sunday Times, former Tory chairman Peter Duncan suggested that, if Boris Johnson is to become the next prime minister, it could create an existential crisis for the party north of the border.

He claimed that, if Mr Johnson wins the party’s leadership election, it could open up a “chasm of epic proportions”.

It's within the gift of the party, but it's nothing that I've ever supported Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

Speaking on the BBC’s Marr programme on Sunday, Ms Davidson said that revisiting a proposal put forward in 2011 by Murdo Fraser that the party could breakaway from the UK party, is not something that she would ever back.

“It’s within the gift of the party, but it’s nothing that I’ve ever supported,” said Ms Davidson.

“Indeed, my entire leadership pitch back in 2011 was predicated on the idea that we wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom party, but with the autonomy for candidate selection, policy, financing and all of these other things that come under my purview.

“There was a suggestion from one of the other candidates in that leadership election that a breakaway would be something that they would look at, along the kind of German CDU/CSU model, but that is not something I have ever supported, I don’t support and I wouldn’t support in the future.”

Ms Davidson also said that she is hopeful that a deal on leaving the EU can be reached at Westminster.

MPs have so far failed to agree on any deal which would enable the UK to depart the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May has engaged in talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in an effort to reach a compromise agreement on Brexit.

The Scottish Tory leader said: “We need to get this deal over the line and what it requires is a majority of people in the House of Commons to vote for it.

“Now we’ve gotten pretty close, we’re getting closer and closer to where that middle ground might be and I would urge my colleagues in the House of Commons to start taking those first steps to walk back to something in the middle because we need to get Brexit done, we need to get it sorted and we need to allow the country to move on.”

Asked whether it would be right for Westminster to legally block another Scottish independence referendum, Ms Davidson said that Nicola Sturgeon had failed to ask for the powers to be granted to Holyrood to hold one.

In 2016, Ms Davidson said that the UK Government should not stand in the way of a second independence referendum in Scotland.

“We know from the devolved settlement that issues of the constitution are reserved to Westminster, that’s plainly a fact,” said the Scottish Tory leader.

“After the last indepenedence referendum, we had a big, broad discussion about what powers should lie where, and the SNP didn’t even ask for the powers to be devolved.

“So this is a new wheeze from Nicola Sturgeon that comes up every year with a different reason for what she wants to do.”

A spokeswoman for the SNP said: “Ruth Davidson is guilty of the most appalling double standards, having previously said that the UK Government ‘shouldn’t block’ an independence referendum.

“Denying a No vote was based on the promise of staying in the EU. Just like David Mundell, she is attempting to rewrite history.

“Ms Davidson is running scared of an independence referendum – but she knows her party cannot indefinitely stand in the way of democracy.

“The hypocrisy of the Tories in Scotland hasn’t been lost on voters, as we see in recent polls. It’s clearer than ever that the Tories are ready to sell-out Scotland.”

PA

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