Davidson "Divisive Brexit" Warning

5 December 2016, 19:43 | Updated: 5 December 2016, 19:44

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said Britain should avoid a "divisive Brexit'' and work to heal the referendum rifts.

She called on both sides of the Brexit divide to treat each other with respect and stop accusations of "racism''.

Speaking to business leaders at the Institute of Directors in London, Ms Davidson told Ukip politicians to "grow up'' and warned they risked Britain's ability to get a good deal in negotiations to leave the European Union (EU).

She said: "Our decision to leave the European Union hasn't determined which path we'll take.

"That's a decision we'll make as a nation and one indicator is how we carry ourselves as we proceed in the months ahead.

"To ensure we choose the path of openness and engagement, above all, I believe we must do all we can to avoid an unnecessarily divisive Brexit.

"That starts with coming back together and healing the divisions here at home that the referendum campaign has caused.''

She added: "I'd like to make a plea. Remainers need to accept that Leavers are not racist for having concerns about the EU and our system of immigration.

"And - for Leavers - it's time to follow the lead of people like Dan Hannan, who point out that the views of the 48% of people across the UK who backed Remain must be heard.

"Our UK Government is going to have to sit down very soon with 27 other EU member states and find a way forward.

"If we simply assume that economic rationalism will win every discussion - and we can just forget about the emotional side of this decision - then I fear we will be hampering our own negotiating position.

"We are not going to get a good deal if the image we project to Europe is that of Nigel Farage needling Europeans by telling them their economies depend on hungry British consumers.''

She added: "So, I say to those Ukip politicians: when they chuckle and bray about the result in June and how they've taught Europe a lesson - grow up.''

Ms Davidson was delivering that annual Rhondda lecture, given last year by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.