THE Prime Minister has paid tribute to former Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie who has announced she is to stand down from Holyrood next year.


Baroness Goldie, who led the party between 2005 to 2011, said she would focus her efforts on the House of Lords following her elevation to the peerage two years ago.

David Cameron praised her as a "towering strength", while current leader Ruth Davidson said she had been an "inspiration" and an "unstoppable force".

She joins fellow Conservative MSPs Alex Fergusson, Nanette Milne, Gavin Brown and Mary Scanlon who are also standing down at next May's Scottish Parliament election.

Baroness Goldie, who has been a West of Scotland MSP since 1999, said it had been an "immense privilege" to serve during the formative years of the Scottish Parliament.

She played a leading role in the referendum campaign and its aftermath, when she sat on the cross-party Smith Commission on further devolution to Holyrood.

Baroness Goldie said: "Since 1999 there have been significant developments translating the spirit of devolution into substantive Scottish achievements.

"It has afforded me both satisfaction and pleasure to serve my constituents and to serve the parliament and I will look back with great happiness at my time as an MSP.

"I am grateful to friends and colleagues from all parties for their support. Sometimes we found common ground, sometimes we disagreed but never, I hope, with rancour nor disrespect.

"Politics is a rough trade but we have built a strong parliament in Scotland of which we can all be rightly proud."

Baroness Goldie said her time as leader had been an "enormous honour" and praised her successor in the role.

"Under Ruth Davidson, I now believe the Scottish Conservative Party is in fine fettle and stands a great chance of making real progress in the years ahead," she said.

"I look forward to continuing to work as part of that effort in the House of Lords in the years to come."

The Prime Minister said: "Annabel is one of those rare breeds in Scottish politics, somebody known by her first name alone.

"When she was Scottish Conservative leader, I valued her sage advice.

"She has been a towering strength to our party in Scotland, a doughty debater in the TV studios and Scottish Parliament, and has one of the sharpest wits around.

"I wish her a long and happy retirement after 17 years unstinting service at Holyrood - but look forward to seeing her on the red benches of the Lords for years to come."

Ms Davidson said: "Annabel has served the Scottish Conservatives for more than two decades as vice chairman and chairman of the party, as an MSP, deputy leader and as leader.

"She has been an inspiration to a whole generation of Scottish Conservatives, and she has been a tremendous mentor, support and friend to me.

"In Holyrood, she has fostered both affection and respect from all members - regardless of their political affiliation - and her retirement from the Scottish Parliament will leave an Annabel-sized hole which won't ever quite be filled. She is unique."