Ruth Davidson dismisses reports of Scottish Conservative breakaway as 'b****cks'

'Folk might remember I fought a leadership election on the other side of that particular argument,' says leader

Harriet Agerholm
Saturday 10 June 2017 17:50
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Ruth Davidson has dismissed reports that the Scottish Conservatives may break away from the UK Tory party.

She tweeted that she fought a leadership campaign opposing the idea of a separate Scottish Conservative organisation.

A report by The Daily Telegraph claimed Ms Davidson’s aides were working on a deal that would split the group.

Ms Davidson said the report was “b****cks”.

The Scottish Conservatives gained 12 seats in the general election, even as the UK party lost its overall majority. It was the Scottish Tories’ best result for more than three decades.

Following the leader’s statements, a spokesperson for her said: “The reality is that the party in Scotland already has autonomy and has done for the last few years. We set out our own policy, we pick our own candidates, and we run the party to our own rules in Scotland.

“As with any party after an election, we will take time over the next few months to assess how we go forward.”

Ms Davidson had opposed a plan to split the party by rival Murdo Fraser when she was elected as leader of the Scottish Conservatives in 2011.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Fraser said: “I saw that piece in the Telegraph with some interest and it rang some bells for some things I said a few years ago but I’m assured that there’s not a lot of truth in this particular story.”

Ms Davidson has said she has received assurances from the Prime Minister over gay rights, should the Tories do a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party. She has urged Ms May to put the economy first by pursuing an “open” Brexit.

Mr Fraser said having a larger group of MPs in Westminster would “make a huge difference” to the influence of the Scottish Conservatives on issues including Brexit.

“What you’ll see is the new group of Scottish Conservatives arguing for what is in the interest of Scottish communities and Scottish business,” he said.

“I think we can have a tremendous amount of leverage.”

He repeated calls for the SNP to drop the prospect of another independence referendum in the wake of the party losing 21 Westminster seats, including those of former first minister Alex Salmond and SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has conceded her plans for a second vote were “undoubtedly” a factor in the outcome and has said she will reflect on the results.

Scotland’s Finance and Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay, who directed the SNP’s election campaign, told the same programme: “The First Minister has said that she’ll reflect on the result but the fact that another Tory government that Scotland has not elected will rule over us with policies that Scotland just doesn’t support I think has been another lesson on why Scotland should have a choice.

“Of course we’ll listen and reflect, it’s too premature to say what we’ll do next around that.”

Press Association contributed to this report

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