I'm not standing - now end leadership 'psychodrama', says Ruth Davidson

Updated: 

Ruth Davidson has attacked the "Tory psychodrama" surrounding speculation over Theresa May's leadership.

The Scottish Conservative leader - who has support within the party as a potential rival to Boris Johnson in any contest to replace Mrs May - insisted she was "not standing" for the role.

Her comments came as Cabinet minister David Mundell mocked Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson's electoral appeal in Scotland.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell
Scottish Secretary David Mundell poked fun at his fellow Cabinet minister (PA)

At a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Ms Davidson was asked to rule out standing as leader of the UK party - and was pushed on whether the Prime Minister should be prepared to sack Mr Johnson over his interventions on Brexit.

"I'm not standing to be the leader of the party," Ms Davidson said. "I don't sit in the House of Commons, let's get back to why we are here - to talk about the real issues and not about the Tory psychodrama."

The revival of the Scottish Tories under Ms Davidson's leadership has made her a popular figure, with activists queuing to get into the event.

Party grandee Lord Heseltine used a Sky News interview to praise Ms Davidson and attack Mr Johnson, while former minister Edwina Currie stood up at the fringe event and urged the Scottish leadership to "take over Conservative Central Office".

Asked about Mr Johnson's potential appeal to young voters, Scottish Secretary Mr Mundell poked fun at his fellow Cabinet minister, saying: "I'm sure none of my colleagues indulge in hypothetical questions although I do recall Boris Johnson once stood for rector of Edinburgh University and you can look at the result of that."

In the 2006 vote, Mr Johnson finished third in the race for the Edinburgh University post.

Ms Davidson said the Scottish party was in "great heart" after boosting the number of Tory MPs from one to 13 at the election.

That meant the Conservatives "faced down the SNP's threat of a second referendum" adding: "We are a party on the up in Scotland, we have got a clear purpose and that is to use the next three years to show that we can be the next government in Scotland."

Mr Mundell said it was the Tory success in Scotland that ensured "Jeremy Corbyn is not prime minister right now".

"Those 12 gains ensured that the Conservatives are still in government in the UK, that's why that result was so important for everyone across the UK," he said.

East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton warned that the party needed to change to attract younger voters.

Great speech at @ScotTories Conference fringe by @PM4EastRen nailing the need to talk positively about aspiration #CPC17pic.twitter.com/5PHShVEzIv

-- Cllr Callum Laidlaw (@CLaidlaw) October 1, 2017

"One of the reasons that young people abandoned us - south of the border more so than north of the border - is that people now think that they will be more prosperous and more secure under a hard-left Labour government than under a Conservative government," he said.

"That shouldn't worry us, that should shame us and we have to have really serious discussions as a party about how we got to this point."