RUTH Davidson has missed a potentially embarrassing Holyrood vote in which MSPs rejected leaving the EU without a deal.

The former Scottish Tory leader, who quit last week after almost eight years in the job, skipped a Scottish Government debate on “Avoiding a No-deal Exit from the EU.”

The Government motion said the UK “should in no circumstances leave the EU on a no-deal basis” and condemning Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Westminster for five weeks.

The motion would have posed a dilemma for Ms Davidson, who has warned no-deal would imperil the Union and could cause financial pain to millions of struggling families.

The Scottish Tories’ response was to try to amend the motion by replacing it with words about respecting the result of the 2016 EU referendum and backing a deal with the EU. 

MSPs rejected the Tory amendment and passed the symbolic motion by 87 votes to 28. 

READ MORE: Boris Johnson to 'address the nation' in speech at 4pm 

BrexitMike Russell says a no-deal Brexit will be ‘catastrophic’ for Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell, who tabled the debate, had called for the Scottish Parliament to join the Scottish Government in "urging the Prime Minister to pull back from the brink of inflicting major damage on our country, our prospects and our reputation".

He described Mr Johnson's attempts to force through a no-deal Brexit by proroguing the Westminster Parliament as "shabby sleight of hand in order to silence any opposition".

In response to Tory MSP Murdo Fraser saying the SNP voted against Theresa May's deal three times, Mr Russell said more Tory MPs voted against it than SNP ones.

He said: "Brexit will make the people of Scotland poorer and cut this country off from the European mainstream and the SNP will never vote for that.

"The deal negotiated by the previous Prime Minister would have taken Scotland and the UK out of the customs union and the single market.

"That dreadful outcome doesn't become tolerable just because another Prime Minister is threatening us with something even worse."

He said freedom of movement had made an "overwhelmingly positive contribution" to Scotland and a no-deal Brexit would damage businesses and the public sector.

He said: "In the health and public care sector, we would simply not be able to care for our sick and elderly people if we cannot attract or keep the dedicated staff we need, so many of whom have come from EU countries."

READ MORE: Edinburgh Castle lit up with 'lying Tory' Rees-Mogg meme 


Mr Russell also accused the UK Government of failing to engage with Edinburgh and Cardiff, saying under Mrs May "we disagreed on policy but both sides knew we had to work together".

Criticising the lack of communication with Mr Johnson's ministers, he added: "It could be that they are simply disorganised but it could be that they are deliberately keeping the devolved administrations in the dark in order to try and blame them when things go wrong."

Tory MSP Donald Cameron said an orderly exit was the "best outcome and the best way to deliver on the referendum result" and claimed there was "still a good chance” of a deal.

His party's newly appointed Europe spokesman, he admitted his personal view was that  no-deal Brexit "should be avoided, given the effects that it would have".

He added the Scottish Parliament should support the Prime Minister in getting a deal.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: "Donald Cameron seems to be one of the few Conservatives left supporting Theresa May's deal.

"It wasn't me, Mike Russell or even Alex Rowley's MPs who blocked that deal.

"It wasn't us on our own, it wasn't possible for us to do it on our own. It was his own new Prime Minister who blocked that deal and his colleagues in the ERG.

"So don't blame us, blame your own party. Your own party that is divided and has divided this country for decades on this issue, you should accept your responsibility for this mess."

Labour MSP Alex Rowley said: "I've got to ask the Scottish Tories in this chamber: Where do your priorities lie - your country, your party or your career?"

Green MSP Ross Greer  condemned Mr Johnson's plans to prorogue Parliament - a policy that is being challenged in courts in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

He said: "The decision to suspend the Westminster Parliament in an attempt to force a no-deal Brexit is an affront to democracy. And we now know this was being planned for weeks. This is the behaviour of authoritarians, not democrats."