Scottish Tory chief quits as Brexit backlash grows

The unity of the United Kingdom depends on mutual respect that has been lacking in the political debate over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, according to outgoing Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

Ruth Davidson has been well respected and liked within the Conservative party Russell Cheyne/Reuters

“Respect is what is missing from our debates, and without respect, you cannot have understanding and you cannot unite – which is what we in Scotland and in the UK need to do,” Davidson said on Thursday.

Davidson announced her resignation as leader of the party in Scotland on Thursday, denying it had anything to do with the leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with whom she has frequently clashed, or his suspension of parliament a day earlier.

She will remain a member of the Scottish parliament.

A hearing will take place in Scotland on Thursday over a legal bid to prevent Johnson from suspending parliament to stop opposition politicians blocking a no-deal Brexit.

On Wednesday, Johnson said he would suspend – or “prorogue” – Britain’s parliament for more than a month before the Brexit deadline, enraging opponents and raising the stakes in the country’s most serious political crisis in decades.

“A hearing will take place today in Court 8 Parliament House at 12 noon,” said a spokeswoman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

Unifying opposition

Opposition to Johnson’s move to suspend parliament crystalised on Thursday amid protests, legal action, and a petition to block the move that has gathered more than one million signatures – guaranteeing it will be discussed in parliament; at least, as long as there exists a parliament to discuss it.

Johnson’s manoeuvre gives his political opponents even less time to prevent a chaotic “no-deal” Brexit before the October 31 withdrawal deadline.

But the decision outraged critics and is serving as a unifying force for the disparate opposition, who have confirmed they will press on with measures to block a departure from the European Union without a deal, despite Johnson’s actions.

“We will seek to try and put through the appropriate legislation in this constrained timetable that the government has now put before us,” said Barry Gardiner, the Labour Party’s spokesman on international trade.

Thousands blocked roads outside Parliament on Wednesday evening, waving EU flags and placards to express their anger. Smaller rallies took place in other towns and cities, while 25 bishops from the Church of England released an open letter expressing their worries about the “economic shocks” of a no-deal Brexit on the poor and other vulnerable people.

Labour’s finance chief said the party is still open to calling a vote of no confidence in Johnson’s government and would welcome the chance for a general election. Since taking power more than a month ago, Johnson has so far had just one day in office during a parliamentary session.

John McDonnell said: “Let me make it absolutely clear, and this is a personal message to Boris Johnson: ‘Bring it on.'”

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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