Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

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Emotional Ruth Davidson quits as Scottish Tory leader after revealing her ‘dread’ of working away from her young son – and ‘the conflict I have felt over Brexit’

  • Ruth Davidson steps down after eight years as leader of Scottish Conservatives 
  • In letter she said she had ‘proved a poor daughter, sister, partner and friend’ 
  • Miss Davidson became emotional as she spoke about her family this morning 
  • She gave birth to baby Finn last year and intends to marry partner Jen Wilson 
  • Comes after she clashed with Boris Johnson and didn’t accept his Brexit strategy

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Ruth Davidson has today announced she will resign as Scottish Tory leader after eight years as she admitted her political career had taken a toll on her personal life.    

The mother-of-one became emotional as she gave a speech about her family this morning, saying spending time away from home ‘filled her with dread’. 

In an impassioned letter Miss Davidson said in trying to be a good leader she had ‘proved a poor daughter, sister, partner and friend’.  

The rising Tory star, who is credited with masterminding the party’s revival north of the Border, has been an outspoken critic of both Boris Johnson and Brexit. 

But she neither criticises nor praises the Prime Minister in her letter, saying only she has, ‘not hidden the conflict I have felt over Brexit’. 

Miss Davidson’s departure does however deal a blow to Mr Johnson’ [1]s hopes of securing a majority at the next election, which could come within weeks. 

In a press conference today she vociferously urged MPs to back a Brexit deal, telling them: ‘You had three opportunities to back a deal and you blew every one of them, don’t blow a fourth.’

She also revealed how she had had a meeting with the PM at Downing Street last week, had written him a letter of thanks and ‘stood foursquare behind his attempts to get a deal.’ 

She said: ‘I stared him right in the eye and I asked him outright – look are you actively trying to get a deal or not – and he categorically assured me that he was.’ 

Ruth Davidson during a press conference today following her announcement she has resigned as leader of the Scottish Tory party

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth Davidson today announced she will resign as Scottish Tory leader, sharing her letter on Twitter 

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth Davidson penned this letter to the party chairman today 

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Miss Davidson and partner Jen Wilson after she gave birth to baby Finn last October

Davidson reveals toll of leadership on family 

In her resignation letter, Miss Davidson said she had taken the decision as she faced fighting two elections in the next two years and did not want to be away from her young family.

She said: ‘It has been the privilege of my life to serve as the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party.

‘The almost eight years I’ve spent at the helm have coincided with one of the most remarkable and important periods of recent Scottish political history.’

The letter went on: ‘Inevitably, much has changed over the years of my leadership – both personally and in the wider political context. While I have not hidden the conflict I have felt over Brexit, I have attempted to chart a course for our party which recognises and respects the referendum result, while seeking to maximise opportunities and mitigate risks for key Scottish businesses and sectors.

‘The biggest change, of course, has been starting a family. I cannot thank you, Jackson Carlaw and the wider party enough for the generosity and support you have all shown to Jen and me following the birth of baby Finn.

It made my return to work in April as smooth as I could have hoped and I believe the flexibility shown by colleagues has allowed me these last months to continue operating successfully in my role as leader.

‘However, as I look to the future, I see the Scottish Election due in 2021 and a credible threat from our opponents to force a general election before then. Having led our party through seven national elections and two referenda, I know the efforts, hours and travel required to fight such campaigns successfully.

‘I have to be honest that where the idea of getting on the road to fight two elections in 20 months would once have fired me up, the threat of spending hundreds of hours away from my home and family now fills me with dread. That is no way to lead.’

The self-proclaimed ‘tough old bird’, who recovered a broken back that ended her Army Reserves career and spiralled into the depression after a friend’s death, went on to became a tour de force in Scottish politics and is credited with singlehandedly turning her party around. 

The 40-year-old, who was touted as a future leader of the UK Conservatives until she explicitly ruled out taking on the post, will continue as MSP for Edinburgh Central until 2021. 

Sources last night insisted Miss Davidson’s decision to go was not directly related to Mr Johnson’s election as Tory leader or his controversial decision to suspend Parliament next month.

But they acknowledged that concerns about a No Deal Brexit were a factor, along with the toll that the leadership has taken on her personal life at a time when she is caring for her first child, Finn, who was born in October.   

Last month, Miss Davidson clashed with Mr Johnson over Brexit and warned that she did not accept his strategy going forward.

‘I don’t think the Government should pursue a No Deal Brexit and, if it comes to it, I won’t support it,’ she said at the time.

Last night, she told the Scottish Daily Mail the party was in ‘great shape’ in Scotland, adding: ‘I understand the speculation surrounding my leadership and I will be making my position clear later today.

‘Those of us who are lucky enough to serve in political leadership accept the toll it takes, but there’s a part of us which can never accept the effect it has on family and friends too.’ 

Miss Davidson’s direct style and charismatic personality were credited with turning around the Tory party’s moribund fortunes in Scotland and delivering 13 MPs at the last election, which proved crucial in keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street.

Downing Street sources acknowledged that the timing of Miss Davidson’s departure was ‘not ideal’ as Mr Johnson is trying to keep the party united behind his strategy of taking Britain out of the European Union on October 31 come what may.

Her resignation will fuel concerns that Mr Johnson has a ‘Scottish problem’ which could cost the Conservatives at any upcoming election. 

This comes as Lord Young of Cookham resigned as a whip in the House of Lords after the Prime Minister announced he was proroguing Parliament for an extended period, a Government source confirmed this morning.  

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Miss Davidson became emotional as she spoke about her family while reading her statement this morning, revealing spending time away from home ‘filled her with dread’ 

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth Davidson pictured in September when she was eight months pregnant, with her partner Jen Wilson. Sources said the pressure of motherhood has contributed to her decision

The ‘tough old bird’ who became a tour de force in Scottish politics

Credited with transforming the party’s image north of the border since taking charge, Ruth Davidson has been described as an energetic campaigner and colourful on-screen character.

Ms Davidson took her first steps towards a life in politics when she joined the Tories in 2009, having previously worked as a journalist.

The 2011 Scottish Parliament elections saw her take a seat from the Glasgow region list.

Two months later, the then-party leader Annabel Goldie announced she would quit the post and Ms Davidson stood for the position.

The self-proclaimed ‘tough old bird’ won the election and became party leader in November that year, gaining 2,278 first preference votes out of the 5,676 cast.

Since then, she has widely been credited with changing the party’s image to being more socially liberal, supporting LGBT rights and favouring extending same-sex marriage equality to Northern Ireland.

Ms Davidson was at the helm during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, which finished with the No side winning by 55% to 45%.

The 2016 Holyrood elections saw the Scottish Conservative Party position itself as the main unionist party, in which it gained the second-highest number of seats in parliament.

She had switched to the Edinburgh Central constituency for that vote.

During the campaign she rode a buffalo, played ice hockey, pulled pints and drove a crane.

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, she supported remaining in the EU, but after the result she called for a soft withdrawal.

The former Territorial Army signaller has publicly said she would not support a no-deal exit from the EU.

Ms Davidson has also received praise for overseeing the Scottish Conservatives going from one MP to 13 in the 2017 General Election.

Her 2018 memoirs revealed she struggled with her mental health as a teenager, citing that as a reason she would not stand to be UK Conservative Party leader.

The Dunfermline Athletic fan had often been tipped to take up the post.

In October last year, she gave birth to a baby boy with her partner Jen Wilson.

At the time, she said she did not believe having a child would impact her political career and her pregnancy would show it was normal for same-sex couples to have children.

Ms Davidson supported Jeremy Hunt to succeed Theresa May as party leader in July 2019.

She said she would judge Boris Johnson on his time in office as Prime Minister, but admitted the two had clashed on issues such as Brexit. 

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, a close ally of Miss Davidson, last night said: ‘Ruth Davidson is a wonderful talent and person, and we owe her a tremendous debt for turning our fortunes around in Scotland.

‘Our party is a better one with her in it and I hope she will continue to contribute to public life.’ 

Miss Davidson had dreamed of becoming Scotland’s first post-devolution Tory leader.

The ambition had led her to resist pressure from Tory moderates to relocate to Westminster and seek the party’s national leadership.

It is understood that Miss Davidson made her mind up to stand down on Tuesday and had begun making preparations to hold a press conference to announce her decision, which will go ahead as planned today.

She was heavily opposed to Mr Johnson becoming leader and backed three of his rivals in the leadership contest.

She was also one of the most prominent Remain campaigners and went up against Mr Johnson in a head-to-head debate in the final week of the EU referendum campaign in June 2016. 

A senior source said that her decision was ‘not in the least’ down to Mr Johnson entering Downing Street, or his decision yesterday to announce that he is controversially suspending Parliament in the run-up to Britain leaving the EU at the end of October.

The source said: ‘This is for a mixture of personal reasons and political reasons, but it is not connected at all to [yesterday’s] events.

‘She has found that, as a leading Remainer, she has had a conflict over the whole issue of Brexit which has not made it easy for her in her role as Scottish Conservative leader.

‘But it is absolutely not to do with the personality of the Prime Minister.’

Miss Davidson had not spoken to either Mr Johnson or most of her elected politicians prior to rumours of her departure first breaking last night.

Ruth Davidson has, almost singlehandedly, transformed the fortunes of the Scottish Conservatives.

Under her leadership, the Tories – who were wiped out in Scotland in the 1997 general election – have become the main party of opposition to the SNP, largely due to a stong focus on keeping the country within the United Kingdom.

That policy will not change with her successor – this is, after all, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, to give it its full title. 

Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said he understood Ruth Davidson’s decision but he would ‘miss her greatly’.

He tweeted: ‘As leader she transformed Scottish Tories fortunes and was a passionate voice for the Union.

Our politics needs more authentic voices like Ruth’s and I hope that can be her legacy.’

MP Nick Boles, who left the Conservative Party in April this year, tweeted: ‘The only person who could have tempted me to return to the Conservative fold is Ruth Davidson. Her characteristically honourable and human decision removes the last significant voice of liberal, progressive conservatism from the party.’

Former prime minister Theresa May tweeted: ‘Sorry to see Ruth Davidson step down as leader of the Scottish Tories.

‘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 with Jen and Finn.’

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth Davidson has, almost singlehandedly, transformed the fortunes of the Scottish Conservatives

Born into privilege? No, just hard work and gut instinct: STEPHEN DAISLEY on Ruth Davidson’s rise to the top

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth Davidson: A tactical thinker but an instinctual politician who leads from the gut

Ruth Davidson was never destined for greatness, her trajectory guided by an invisible hand of history like some politicians’ careers seem to be.

Everything she has achieved, she has achieved through hard graft and determination.

Everything she has done, for good and for ill, has been shaped by a personal ethic that has shaped her Toryism more than any volume of Burke or Hayek. She is a tactical thinker but an instinctual politician who leads from the gut.

Her gut now tells her it is time to bow out. After eight years as an MSP and leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Davidson has now resigned. 

Sources in her camp say the pressures of new motherhood have aggravated her disillusionment with the direction of her party at Westminster.

Baby Finn will turn one in October and 40-year-old Davidson intends to marry his other mother, her partner Jen Wilson.

Those joyous pressures have been amplified by the unwelcome arrival, from Davidson’s perspective, of Boris Johnson in No 10. With him he has brought the prospect of no-deal Brexit and the prorogation of Parliament to that end.

Davidson reached the height of her political abilities only for her own party to take her legs out from under her. Now, she can ride off into the sunset and enjoy the rewards and trials of a normal family life.

For her party, however, an ominous question mark had formed overhead.

Is there life in the Scottish Conservatives after Ruth Davidson?

The query arises because she was not another run-of-the-mill leader who put on a brave face and managed the party’s decline. She was transformative, resurrecting a political force long thought spent and reshaping Scottish politics in the process. She may not have been destined for greatness but she has made her name and earned her reputation as a political star.

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Davidson recovered from a broken back that ended her Army Reserves career. Pictured, Miss Davidson firing The Royal Artillery gun, to signal the start of the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity annual golf competition at Duddingston Golf Course in 2018 

To understand Ruth Davidson, you have to understand where she comes from.

She was not born into privilege as so many prominent Tories are. There was no boarding school, no father with connections at Westminster or in the City. Nor is she a horny-handed daughter of toil reared on tales from the pit or the picket, like Labour giants of old.

Her upbringing was and her character is unsatisfyingly middle-class, lower or average depending on your perspective.

Her dad, Douglas, is a former Partick Thistle player turned businessman and he and his wife Liz raised Davidson in Selkirk and later Fife. She attended Buckhaven High School, a bog-standard comprehensive which boasted the motto Perseverando – ‘persevering’.

TORIES TO START SEARCH FOR SUCCESSOR TO RUTH DAVIDSON 

Ms Davidson’s sudden departure leaves a massive void within the party north of the border.

The last two elections have seen the Tories make major gains under Ms Davidson – with the party winning a record 31 seats at Holyrood in 2016, overtaking Labour to become the main opposition party within the Scottish Parliament.

Meanwhile, in the 2017 general election, the party won 13 seats in Scotland, up from the one they had held previously, with Tories delighted to oust both former first minister Alex Salmond and the SNP’s then-Westminster leader Angus Robertson from their seats.

This result helped keep then-prime minister Theresa May in Downing Street, and it is uncertain whether Ms Davidson’s successor would be able to repeat it at the next election.

As to who her successor might be, a possible candidate could be Murdo Fraser – who ran for the job against Ms Davidson back in 2011.

At that time he proposed that the Scottish Tories should split from the UK party – an idea which could prove appealing given the lack of support north of the border for Brexit and Boris Johnson.

Adam Tomkins, the party’s constitution spokesman at Holyrood, could be another contender.

He was elected to Holyrood in 2016, but prior to that the constitutional law expert represented the Tories on the Smith Commission, the cross-party body which agreed the blueprint for greater devolution in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum.

Miles Briggs, meanwhile, has proved successful as Scottish Conservative health spokesman, pushing the Scottish Government to extend free personal care to under-65s as part of the Frank’s Law campaign.

And Liam Kerr – another Conservative who came to Holyrood – has also been a strong performer as the party’s justice spokesman.

Jackson Carlaw, who became an MSP in 2007, is the current Scottish Conservative depute leader, and filled in for Ms Davidson when she went on maternity leave.

But having first stood for election in 1982, it is uncertain if he would want to take on the leadership role on a permanent basis.

That sums up Davidson well. She has always been persevering, whether in recovering from the broken back that ended her Army Reserves career, or working as a shop assistant after the radio station she broadcast on suddenly went into liquidation, or becoming the gay leader of a traditionalist political party, or in defying her critics to restore the Scottish Conservatives after more than a generation in the wilderness.

Adversity has never been far from her path but she has met it with tenacity and good humour.

Perseverance serves as a useful shorthand for Davidson’s brand of conservatism.

She is well-read but not an intellectual Tory, her worldview formed by theory or philosophy. Her upbringing instilled in her the values of hard work, discipline, personal responsibility and self-starting ambition. This, rather than any polling data or shifting political fashion, is why she is a blue-collar Conservative.

She rejects the Left-wing characterisation of the Right as the Praetorian Guard of privilege and believes that the ordered liberty of free markets and the rule of law protects the interests of working- and middle-class people better than socialism.

There is a no-nonsense air to Davidson; she can be a very hard woman, though women in politics often have to be.

This toughness is not an affectation – it emerges from her plainspoken politics.

One of her political heroes is John Howard, the former Australian prime minister who was also a blue-collar Right-winger, also underestimated by his opponents and the commentariat, and whose gnarly persona helped him connect with working-class voters who had never voted for his party before.

Howard once floored Kim Beazley, a well-meaning Labor leader from a vaunted Australian political dynasty, with the charge that he ‘doesn’t have the ticker for it’. It was an Aussie-ism that cut through with ordinary voters who seldom paid attention to politics and made the debate one of personal character. Davidson sometimes cites it as one of her favourite political moments.

Personal grit has been in Davidson’s blood from the start but she has been hardened by struggle.

The death of a teenage friend sent her into ‘a total tailspin’ and she began cutting her arms and stomach with shards of glass and knives. She punched walls, roiled with constant anger, and started to abuse alcohol. Her GP diagnosed her with depression but her prescribed medication only exacerbated her problems.

As an English literature student at Edinburgh University, she avoided sleep and lived a largely nocturnal life.

The depression, she later reflected, ‘was like a smothering black blanket over my head, cutting out the sky… It was heavy, constricting, suffocating. It took away hope and energy and life.’

Last year, she became one of the first senior British politicians to speak openly about her battle with mental ill-health.

She credits exercise, limited alcohol intake and her Christian faith with helping her recovery.

Davidson was already a trailblazer as an openly gay woman, the first to lead a major political party in the UK. At first she strained to break free from the label ‘lesbian kickboxer’ but eventually she relaxed into her position as the face of the modern Tory Party and her newfound status as role model for gay youngsters coming to terms with their sexuality.

In February 2015, she appeared in a groundbreaking party election broadcast which featured her partner Jen, updating the Conservative message on family values for the 21st century.

Last October, she gave birth to son Finn, with partner Jen by her side. In a testament to how much her example had changed Right-wing attitudes about personal morality, one of the first to congratulate the new mother was Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP.

That the head of Northern Ireland’s most God-fearing party would celebrate the birth of a child to the unmarried leader of the Scottish Tories and her Irish Catholic girlfriend would have been unthinkable before Davidson entered politics.

Things change and she deserves credit for helping to bring about changes like these.

The birth of Finn reinforced Davidson’s affinity for the NHS, another instinct that set her apart from many of her fellow Tories. She revealed her experience of the health service as an expectant mother, quipping: ‘There is a special feeling of wanting the earth to swallow you whole when you are led in a hospital gown to the room where an internal examination is going to take place by a nurse who decides to strike up a conversation with: ‘I saw you on the telly last night, talking about the NHS’.’

The NHS is in Davidson’s bones, quite literally. Aged five, she was run over by a truck outside the family home and taken to hospital.

She credits the doctors with saving her life and her legs. Years later, when she was serving as a signaller in 32 Signal Regiment of the Army Reserve, she broke her back in a training accident at Sandhurst. Once again, the NHS patched her up and ensured she would walk again.

As Davidson reflected in a speech at Glasgow University last year: ‘The NHS, the best expression of our country’s values that we have, is the foundation of this country’s social contract.

And if we don’t ensure it is put on a sustainable footing over the coming years, we won’t just suffer as patients – we will see faith in that contract collapse completely.’

This is who Davidson is as a politician and a person but it is not what she is best known for. The Scottish Conservatives are losing a leader but the Union is also losing its hardiest, most energetic champion.

Davidson came into her own as a political leader during the 2014 independence referendum. This 5ft 5in firecracker exploded onto the national scene, going toe-to-toe with the Nationalists and matching their passion for independence with a heartfelt belief in the Union.

Davidson is not a nationalist but she understands how they think because she is a patriot.

Where they see Scotland as a victim held back by Westminster, she sees the UK as a sacred trust between nations and people that at its best can be a force for good at home and overseas.

Yet again we arrive at another Davidson peculiarity: she is a Tory optimist. Her efforts in 2014 contributed to the defeat of nationalism and when the SNP refused to accept the outcome, Davidson stepped up her campaign and in the process became a largely one-issue politician.

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth Davidson is the Scottish Conservatives and a new leader will have to fight to preserve her legacy while stamping their own imprimatur on the party

Labour having abandoned its pro-Union stance in vain hope of winning back voters who had switched to the SNP, Davidson was free to reinvent herself and her party as the guardians of the Union. This allowed her to appeal to those ordinarily hostile to the Tories but who grasped the menace of nationalism.

SCOTTISH SECRETARY HAILS ‘INSPIRATIONAL’ DAVIDSON 

New Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has thanked Ruth Davidson for hier ‘outstanding’ work as leader of the Tories in Scotland.

Mr Jack, who took over from David Mundell after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, said her ‘leadership has been inspirational and transformational’.

His comments came despite Ms Davidson having lobbied the PM to keep David Mundell, the previous Scottish secretary, in the job.

Mr Jack, one of 13 Scottish Conservative MPs elected in 2017, said: ‘Ruth Davidson has been an outstanding leader of the Scottish Conservatives for nearly eight years and I want to put on record my thanks for everything she has achieved.

‘Her leadership has been inspirational and transformational.

‘She has inspired a new generation of Scottish Conservative politicians, activists and supporters – and in turn that has transformed our party’s fortunes.

‘In short, she has made the Scottish Conservatives the only credible challenger to the SNP in Scotland.’

He added: ‘It is thanks to Ruth that we have become the official opposition at Holyrood, holding Nicola Sturgeon’s failing, high-tax, independence-obsessed administration to account so effectively.

‘It’s also thanks to Ruth that we have a strong complement of 13 Scottish Conservative MPs standing up for Scotland’s interests at Westminster.’

Mr Jack continued: ‘At the heart of Ruth’s success has been her brilliance as a communicator and her passion for strengthening Scotland’s place in the UK.

‘She has consistently articulated a positive vision of the Union and that is why she played such an important role in the successful 2014 campaign to stay part of the UK and why a majority of Scots continue to oppose a second independence referendum.

‘She is a huge loss but she steps down with an incredibly impressive record of achievement to look back on and I wish her my very wishes for the future.’

Davidson embraced her new role as Boudica in a power suit and basked in the confidence it gave her.

During one Holyrood debate on Indyref 2, Nicola Sturgeon attempted to interrupt Davidson, who snapped ‘sit down’ at her opposite number. The debating chamber emptied of air and sound as a stunned Sturgeon resumed her seat. The rules of the game had changed.

It was about more than rhetoric, though. Davidson took a defibrillator to the Scottish Tories and returned the party to rude health in the face of much disdainful blather from the commentariat.

The 2016 Holyrood election saw the Tories double their representation from 15 to 31, supplanting Labour as the main opposition. Even then, her detractors denied the evidence in front of them and were again proved wrong in the following year’s General Election.

A month before polling day, one of Davidson’s more self-assured critics complained to readers of a London-based magazine that the media was ‘talking up a Tory surge in Scotland’ when, he averred, ‘the Conservatives will increase their seats tally from one to four with a fair wind.

Maybe seven if 8 June 2017 is a very good night’. One month later, the voters sent 13 Scottish Tory MPs to Westminster.

In politics, the efforts of many are often ascribed to the toil of one figurehead. In the case of the Scottish Tory revival, however, Davidson transformed her party as much by the force of her personality as by the quality of the candidates it now fielded.

What Davidson could not control was the divergent political ambitions of others.

The Right of the Tory Party had made the UK’s withdrawal from the EU its crusade and when it convinced a narrow majority of the country in 2016’s referendum, Davidson was thrown into conflict with her party. Scotland overwhelmingly voted Remain and Brexit would be used by the SNP to agitate for Indyref 2. Davidson would have to ride two horses: loyalty to her party and loyalty to her political nous and personal conscience.

The election of Boris Johnson as Tory leader snapped the tether fastening those two beasts together.

Davidson could either be a good Tory, or a successful Scottish Tory; a democrat willing to accept an orderly Brexit but not a chaotic No Deal, or a hypocrite conceding more ground by the day to a wing of her party for which she feels no love or political fidelity.

In the end, her Westminster colleagues dragged her to a line in the sand she could not cross. A woman once touted as a possible successor to David Cameron has been undone by the same forces that did for him. The Conservatives don’t just knife leaders, now they knife potential leaders too.

What will become of the Scottish Tories now?

They face seeing all the gains Davidson made evaporate as Nicola Sturgeon is spared her toughest opponent and the Union its doughtiest defender. Her would-be successors will put forward their credentials but all will be judged against the metric of the woman who went before them and all will be found wanting.

Ruth Davidson is the Scottish Conservatives and a new leader will have to fight to preserve her legacy while stamping their own imprimatur on the party, all the while managing the political fall-out of a No Deal Brexit and fending off fresh attempts by the SNP to force Indyref 2. There may be only one person in the Scottish Tories equal to that challenge and she is heading for the exit.

From penalty shootouts to straddling Army tanks: How Tory leader Ruth threw herself into weird and wonderful photo opportunities

By John Paul Breslin 

Her youthful stint as a BBC journalist may have been on radio, but Ruth Davidson has never been shy about posing for the cameras.

Since becoming an MSP in May 2011, she has jumped at the chance to publicise her party’s policies with a succession of weird and wonderful photo opportunities.

Showing off her sporting prowess, she was snapped demonstrating her skills as both a kickboxer and on the football field.

In the run-up to the 2014 referendum, she helped the Better Together side win a charity penalty shootout against the Yes campaign.

As a former Territorial Army soldier, she straddled the gun barrel of an Army tank in Tayside in April 2015, while on the campaign trail for that year’s General Election.

And during the 2016 Scottish parliament election campaign Miss Davidson rode a buffalo named 007 in Auchtertool, Fife, before trying her hand at ice hockey and pulling pints.

She was even prepared to share a shot with arch-rival Nicola Sturgeon for a good cause, donning a pink hardhat and feather boa to support the Breast Cancer Now campaign in 2017.

But now it seems she will be taking a break from the limelight for a while.

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Pink ladies: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson taking part in Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink fundraiser at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in 2017

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ale to the chief: Downing pints at the Raeburn Bar in Edinburgh ahead of 2016 Holyrood poll

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Knockout: Ruth kickboxing in 2009

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Gunning for victory: Straddling a tank in Tayside during the 2015 General Election campaign

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Striking: Ruth helps Unionist side win a penalty shootout for charity in 2014

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Political big beast: Ruth Davidson on 007 the buffalo in Fife during 2016 campaign

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

In 2017 Davidson met members of the Glasgow based 32 Signal Regiment where she is an Honorary Colonel in the reserve unit at Edinburgh Castle

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

The outgoing leader at Knockhill racing circuit near Dunfermline in Scotland, while on the her election campaign trail in 2016 

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Davidson driving a tank at Auchterhouse Country Sports as she takes her General Election campaign to Tayside in 2015 

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Davidson jumping from a Beetle car as she arrives in Hamilton on the General Election campaign trail in May 2015

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Davidson hugging fellow MSP Miles Briggs as they took time off from their official duties at the Scottish Parliament after Tory MSP Miles Briggs had his legs waxed to raise funds for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland in 2017

Ruth Davidson quits as leader of Scottish Tories

Ruth sampling whisky during a visit to Deanston Distillery in Doune, where the party unveiled their European election candidates earlier this year 

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References

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