Scottish Tory chief denies May rift
Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson has rejected claims that she will break away from the national party.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Davidson’s team was working on a deal to separate the Scottish party after it enlarged the number of Conservative MPs from one to 13.
Openly gay Davidson said she had received assurances from enfeebled UK Prime Minister Theresa May that she would make no movement on homosexual rights if the Tories made a deal with Northern Ireland’s socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Davidson has delivered huge improvements for her party in the 2016 Scottish parliamentary and this year’s local elections, pushing the formerly dominant Labour Party into third place.
Davidson, 38, is known as an energetic campaigner and is often the subject of colourful photo opportunities, including standing astride a mobile artillery tank with the union flag.
For the 2016 campaign she rode a buffalo, played ice hockey, pulled pints and drove a racing car, crane and snowmobile.
Murdo Fraser, the Conservatives’ finance spokesman in the Edinburgh parliament, told the BBC he had been “assured that there’s not a lot of truth” in rumours of a split with London.
He said having far more Scottish MPs in Westminster would “make a huge difference” to their influence on issues, including Brexit. Fraser said: “What you’ll see is the new group of Scottish Conservatives arguing for what is in the interest of Scottish communities and Scottish business. I think we can have a tremendous amount of leverage.”
Davidson has just led the Scottish Conservatives to their best result in a general election since 1983, and has appeared among the favourites to succeed May as party leader, although she sits in the wrong parliament.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is still illegal and the DUP has repeatedly blocked legislation, despite a majority of Northern Irish assembly members supporting the move at the last vote.
The binary issue of Scottish independence turned politics into a two-horse race with the Tories dominating the pro-union side of the. argument and squeezing Labour out of the debate.
During the EU referendum in June 2016, Davidson argued the remain case with her adversary, the Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon.
The opponents became leading voices in the Remain campaign, with Davidson putting in a combative performance while clashing with leave campaigner Boris Johnson in a TV debate just ahead of the vote.
After the leave vote, she positioned herself on the soft-Brexit wing of the debate, continuing to advocate single-market access.
Ruth Davidson with an uninspiring slogan. Picture credit: Vimeo