Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said she would have voted to trigger Article 50 had she been a Westminster MP.
Miss Davidson, whose own constituents voted to remain in the European Union, made the confession in a speech given to the London School of Economics.
Commenting on the vote that took place last week in the House of Commons, the Conservative MSP said: “So, had I been a member of the Houses of Parliament last week, I would have voted for Article 50 to be triggered.”
The admission follows a vote in the Scottish parliament that resulted in overwhelming opposition to the UK government’s plan to take the whole of the UK out of the European Union and out of the Single Market.
The speech from the Scottish Conservative leader also focused on the possibility of a second independence referendum. Attacking the idea, Davidson told the audience that support for the so-called ‘indyref2’ was falling.
She said: “Despite the SNP’s best efforts, support for a second referendum on independence in response to Brexit is now falling, not rising.
“Indeed, one poll recently put support at just 27% – down from 43% immediately after the EU vote.
“And, secondly, support for independence itself is flat-lining.”
The claims though are at odds with recent polling which put support for a second referendum neck-and-neck with opposition to indyref2. The most recent survey on independence showed Yes had in fact increased support from 46% to 49%.
The speech from the Scottish Conservative leader follows calls from Nicola Sturgeon for Scotland’s voice to be heard on the issue of Brexit. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU.
The First Minister has raised the prospect of a second independence referendum. However the SNP leader has also said that a second ballot in terms of the Brexit issue would be shelved if the UK government agrees to compromise on its hard-Brexit stance. The Scottish government is seeking membership of the European Single Market for the whole of the UK, and failing that a differentiated agreement that would allow Scotland to retain membership.
The issue of Brexit has caused difficulty for Ruth Davidson. Speaking during the 2014 referendum campaign she told an audience that a No vote would safeguard Scotland’s EU membership.
Following the EU referendum result, the Scottish Conservative leader then said she backed Scotland remaining in the Single Market.
The UK government has promised to Trigger Article 50, which starts the process of leaving the EU, in March. Any decision on a second independence referendum will follow at an as yet unspecified later date.