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Could Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson get the top job?

The political rumour juggernaut has smashed through the confines of Holyrood and Westminster with the gas pedal pressed hard to the floor and the sat nav set full ahead for Downing Street, SW1.

After months of fevered speculation, Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson has delivered a speech so far outside her remit, addressing UK wide funding of the NHS, the national housing crisis, and immigration targets – far more relevant in England than in Scotland – which can only be construed by all but the most myopic observer as firing the starting pistol in the race to succeed the increasingly hapless Theresa May as leader of the Conservative party. And if that happens before the next general election, the keys to 10 Downing Street will come with the job.

So far, so unsurprising. Ms Davidson doesn’t actually hold a seat in Westminster, serving instead as an MSP north of the border, but the wily grandees of the Tory party have a habit of finding a way to overcome such obstacles.

She’s a woman – sure – but the Conservative party has form dating back to 1976 on that score.

Next up, the red, white and blue ‘Britain’s Top Tory’ mug is still firmly ensconced in Mrs May’s kitchen cupboard, and she’s showing no signs of handing it over to anyone else any time soon. Once again though, the shadowy Conservative powers that be have a way of giving history a gentle nudge from time to time.

Davidson is not your archetypal Tory. She’s without doubt from the progressive wing of the party, and just as comfortable appearing on Have I Got News For You as she is on Newsnight. She is engaging and smiley…and she also happens to be a pregnant lesbian.

Many of this morning’s papers reported yesterday’s speech. Some were for, some against, yet none that I could find expressed disquiet at the possibility of a lesbian holding the highest office in the land.

Who someone chooses to love shouldn’t preclude them from political office, but it’s only 20 years since we had our first out gay MP, Chris (now Lord) Smith. Before Smith, countless careers were ruined through shame, blackmail or prejudice, while many more didn’t even get off the ground. Jeremy Thorpe, the former Liberal Party leader, went as far as to consider murdering a former lover. He was found not guilty, but this didn’t stop his career ending in tatters.

If you’re Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat or Green, you’re not going to vote Conservative because of their leader’s sexuality but, irrespective of party politics, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom were an out and proud gay woman?

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Rob Harkavy

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