Profile: Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson – The ‘Kickboxing Lesbian’ Who Could Scupper Brexit
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives is set to wield considerable influence over Theresa May’s minority administration – but who is Ruth Davidson?
The 38-year-old “kickboxing lesbian” took the Tories from having had no more than one Scottish MP since 1997 to a grand total of 13 – finally removing the punchline from the Scottish Nation Party’s long-standing joke about there being “more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs”.
But despite a relatively robust stance on religious regimes in the Middle East, the rise of Ruth Davidson is not necessarily good news for Eurosceptics or small-c conservatives. Breitbart London breaks down her stance on key issues below:
Davidson is a committed Europhile, campaigning for a Remain vote during Britain’s referendum on EU membership and appearing on the Remain campaign’s debate team alongside Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady and London Mayor Sadiq Khan for the BBC-organised Great Debate which closed out the contest.
Appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics shortly after the Leave vote, she insisted she still hoped Britain would “stay in the Single Market … even if a consequence of that is maintaining Free Movement”.
Davidson later seemed to accept that any Brexit deal would have to involve an exit from the Single Market and its Free Movement regime. But she agreed with hardline Tory Remainers like Anna Soubry that a bigger majority for Theresa May might lessen the influence of “Brexiteer bastards” on the backbenches and allow the government’s stance to soften.
As it turns out, Theresa May losing her majority has given Davidson even greater direct influence, with ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer and Remain campaign “Scaremonger-General” George Osborne praising her for “flexing her muscles on Brexit” soon after the results.
“I want to ensure that we can look again at issues like Brexit, which we know we are now going to have to get cross-party support for,” she said, adding that the party has to “move to a consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave”.
In September 2011, she sacked her election agent and parliamentary assistant, Ross McFarlane, after mobile phone footage of him lighting an EU flag on fire after a night drinking with friends back when he was a student surfaced.
“It is reprehensible behaviour and I have terminated his contract,” she said.
Davidson is the first openly gay leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and made a point of the fact that she is “about to marry an Irish Catholic” woman when it emerged that Theresa May would be seeking an arrangement with Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to piece together a programme for government.
The DUP are a Protestant, working-class party which supports Brexit, conservative social policies, and maintaining Ulster’s place within the United Kingdom.
Like the Province’s other main parties, they oppose extending the Abortion Act 1967 to allow terminations for non-medical reasons up to six months into pregnancies, as is permitted in the rest of the United Kingdom.
More significantly, the DUP opposes same-sex marriage, with civil partnerships but not “marriage” being available to gay couples in Northern Irleand.
Davidson told the BBC she had been “straightforward with [Theresa May]” when she was consulted about the deal:
“I told her that there were a number of things that count to me more than the party,” she said.
One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex] rights.
I asked for a categoric assurance that if any deal or scoping deal was done with the DUP there would be absolutely no rescission of LGBTI rights in the rest of the UK, in Great Britain, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland.
It’s an issue very close to my heart and one that I wanted categoric assurances from the Prime Minister on, and I received [them].
Davidson moved quickly to disassociate herself from the Conservative Party’s late ‘Iron Lady’, Margaret Thatcher, when she made her bid for the leadership of its Scottish wing.
“I was six months old when Thatcher became Prime Minister. I have no knowledge or memory of her,” she said. “It’s like talking about Disraeli or someone else from the past.”
Davidson has been somewhat more robust on the Middle East than most senior Tories, who have been keen to curry favour with the Gulf’s wealthy oil states.
For example, she defended Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s much-criticised comments on Saudi Arabia “puppeteering and playing proxy wars” in the region.
“I think Boris Johnson was absolutely right about what he said about proxy wars, and about Saudi and about Iran,” she said. “Now, that might not be the position of the UK Government, but guess what: I am not in the UK Government, and I think he was right.”
She also blasted former Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to fly British flags at half-staff to mark the passing of the previous Saudi king in 2015: “Flying flags at half mast [sic] on gov buildings for the death of Saudi king is a steaming pile of nonsense,” she tweeted, branding it a “stupid act on its own and a stupid precedent to set”.
Saudi Arabia is noted for its legal discrimination against women and intolerance of religious and sexual minorities, with apostasy, blasphemy, and homosexuality all carrying death sentences.