Scottish Conservative leader resigns amid Brexit backlash

Scottish Conservative Party member Ruth Davidson, who had been at odds recently with party members and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced her resignation Thursday.

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson said Thursday she is leaving office for family reasons File Photo by Neil Hall

Under Davidson’s leadership, the party made its greatest gains in the Scottish Parliament elections three years ago. Davidson, though, has been opposed to leaving the European Union — and the Conservative leadership.

In her announcement Thursday, she said her priority is family — and the recent birth of her son changed her personal priorities, particularly with respect to the terse political climate.

“Much has changed over the years of my leadership — both personally and in a wider political context,” Davidson wrote in a letter posted to Twitter. “While I have not hidden the conflict I felt over Brexit, I have attempted to chart a course for our party that recognizes and respects the referendum’s result while seeking to maximize opportunities and minimize risks for key Scottish businesses and sectors.

“I hope and believe industries as diverse as fishing fleets and whiskey producers have felt well represented by the Scottish Conservatives during this time.”

Former Prime Minister Theresa May expressed regret over Davidson’s exit.

“Sorry to see [her] step down as Leader,” May tweeted. “Thank you for all you’ve done for our party and our Union over the last eight years, and enjoy your well-deserved family time.”

Davidson’s announcement came one day after Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II agreed to shut down Parliament for five weeks, beginning next month — a move the prime minister said will facilitate his domestic agenda. Critics argue it’s an overt attempt to block lawmakers from trying to block Britain’s EU exit, which is set for Oct. 31, and one that’s drawn substantial backlash.

Protests spanned Britain in response, with opponents marching outside Parliament in London and shouting, “stop the coup.” Organizers said there will be more protests this weekend.

An Internet petition opposed to the shutdown has gathered more than a million signatures, satisfying the requirement needed for a debate in Parliament.

ByClyde Hughes