(Bloomberg) -- Scottish Conservative Party leader Jackson Carlaw quit less than six months into the job after failing to arrest a surge in support for independence from the U.K.
Carlaw, who only took over from Ruth Davidson as leader of the Scottish wing of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party in February, said he wasn’t the “best placed” person to make the case for keeping Scotland in the union. His resignation will take effect immediately.
The departure leaves the party without a leader less than a year before Scotland holds a regional election that could open the way to another vote on independence -- a move the Conservatives have long opposed.
The party’s share of the vote has stagnated in recent months at about 22%, while support for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s ruling Scottish National Party has surged to almost 48%, according to data compiled by Ballot Box Scotland. While Johnson and his party supported Brexit, Scotland voted decisively to remain in the European Union.
Sturgeon has said a decisive victory for her party in next year’s elections would leave Johnson with no choice but to sanction a second independence vote, something he has so far refused to consider.
“Jackson Carlaw is a unionist to the core,” Scottish Justice Secretary and SNP member Humza Yousaf wrote on Twitter. “If he has come to conclusion that he cannot make the best case for Scotland remaining in the U.K. then no one can. Independence is coming.”
Support for independence is growing, with a series of polls in recent months showing that, after voting to stay in 2014, a majority of Scots now favor breaking away from the U.K.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.