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Ruth Davidson on returning to campaign against Scottish independence

Baroness Davidson has said she will always return to fight independence. (Jane Barlow/PA)
Baroness Davidson has said she will always return to fight independence. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ruth Davidson will “always” return to campaign against a Scottish independence referendum, she told an audience at an Edinburgh Fringe show.

Baroness Davidson, the former Scottish Conservative leader, was a guest at Iain Dale’s All Talk show at the Pleasance Theatre, in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Sunday.

While she stepped down as leader in 2019, she has remained a prominent figure for the party in the campaign against independence.

When asked whether she would ever come back and “stand up to Sturgeon”, she said: “First of all, were there to be one [a referendum], I will always come back and get involved in whatever way I can because I believe in it and I believe in fighting for what you believe in.”

But she said: “I honestly don’t think there is going to be one within the next sort of 10 to 15 years – and by which point, politics will have moved on so much that people won’t have a clue who I am.”

Baroness Davidson said that “she wouldn’t have to be asked” by the party or prime minister to get involved.

But a return to frontline politics has been ruled out by the former Edinburgh Central MSP.

She said: “I think my time in elected politics is over.”

In July 2021 she was given a life peerage in the House of Lords.

And she took aim at the current Scottish Government plans to hold a referendum in October 2023 – depending on the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling on the vote’s legality.

She accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s party of “weakness” by pledging to use the next general election as a “de-facto referendum”.

She said: “That is a sign of weakness, that they don’t know what their next move is but they needed to do something.

“I’m not sure that plan is one that is wholly effective.”

Ms Davidson also said she did not “understand the logic” of the SNP’s desire for a second referendum.

Despite pro-independence groups having a majority of seats – SNP and the Scottish Greens – in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Davidson said the party should respect the result of the 2014 referendum.

“I don’t think you get to keep running a question because you didn’t like the answer,” she said.

“I fundamentally disagree with that.”

But an SNP spokesman said the Scottish Government “has been given a cast-iron democratic mandate by the people to hold an independence referendum”.

“Ruth Davidson said that if there was a majority of parties in the Scottish Parliament who supported independence then it is right that an independence referendum be held, and clearly that is the case,” the spokesman said.

“In any case, it is the Scottish people who will decide upon the future of Scotland – not a Tory government at Westminster or unelected Lords with no democratic mandate.”