The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said she does not want a second referendum to be held on EU membership, while expressing her frustration at delays to plans to protect Scotland’s interests in the Brexit bill.
In an interview on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Ruth Davidson said: “I would quite happily never see another constitutional referendum in my lifetime because I find them divisive. I’ve always said that you shouldn’t keep running referenda until you get the position you like personally.”
She added that she would be seeing Theresa May on Monday to talk about the highly contentious clause 11 of the EU withdrawal bill, which has been attacked as a power grab by Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart, Carwyn Jones, fuelling intense pressure from the Scottish Conservatives to amend it.
On Tuesday, it emerged that the amendments had been postponed because of unexpected delays in Whitehall, and would have to be introduced in the House of Lords in the spring instead, leading to SNP accusations that Scotland had been “sold out”.
Davidson emphasised the complexity of the process, saying: “I’m frustrated too. I wish that this had already been nailed down but it is taking longer than we thought.”
She insisted that the work on the amendments was continuing, and that David Lidington, who replaced Damian Green as minister with responsibility for negotiations with devolved administrations, had spoken to Scotland’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, on his first day in office.
Davidson said: “The work that’s going on between the civil servants of the UK government and the Scottish government is taking longer than we had thought and anticipated and I find that frustrating.
“It also requires political input as well, so ministers are talking as well – one of the very first phone calls that David Lidington made when he became the new cabinet secretary in charge of part of the guts of Brexit was to John Swinney to have that discussion.”
“I know that colleagues have sat down with [Scottish Brexit minister] Mike Russell as well. I’m going down to see the prime minister.”
Questioned about the prime minister’s recent reshuffle, she said: “I think reshuffles are almost impossible to get entirely right.”
After expressing disappointment earlier this week that Justine Greening – whom she described as “a real role model for LGBT+ Conservatives” – had been sacked, she added: “Justine Greening and I have been friends for a long time and I appreciated the voice she brought to government,” but said she had not spoken to the former education minister since Monday.
Davidson was also categorical that she did not have ambitions to move from Holyrood to Westminster. “Not at all. This is my home. Scotland is the only place I’ve lived and worked in my life and this is where I’m staying.”
She said: “I get quite frustrated by all these people coming up from down south, other media organisations, and they don’t understand that being the leader of the opposition in Scotland, being a potential first minister, is a bigger job than many of the cabinet jobs down south and certainly larger than being on the backbenches, and that’s where my commitment lies.”