It is “deeply concerning” a “hardline Brexiteer” could become the next Prime Minister and threaten a no-deal exit from the EU, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Following Theresa May’s announcement on Friday that she would be stepping down on June 7, Scotland’s First Minister warned her departure would “not solve the Brexit mess”.
She said it would be wrong for Mrs May’s successor to take office without calling a General Election.
Ms Sturgeon added Mrs May’s resignation also outlines the importance of Scotland being given the chance to vote again on the question of independence.
The First Minister said: “I wish Theresa May well. She and I had profound disagreements – not least on her handling of Brexit and her disregard for Scotland’s interests.
“However, leadership is tough – especially in these times – and she deserves thanks for her service.
“Her departure will not solve the Brexit mess that the Tories have created. Only putting the matter back to the people can do that.”
She added: “Given current circumstances, it also feels deeply wrong for another Tory to be installed in Number 10 without a General Election.
“The prospect of an even more hardline Brexiteer now becoming PM and threatening a no-deal exit is deeply concerning.
“Added to the experience of the past three years, this makes it all the more important that Scotland is given the choice of becoming an independent country.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said Mrs May had his “utmost respect”.
Mr Mundell said: “I am very sorry it has come to this. Nobody could have worked harder, or shown a greater sense of public duty, in delivering the result of the EU referendum than Theresa May.
“She has my utmost respect for those endeavours, in the most challenging of circumstances, as well as her unswerving commitment to the union.
“As Mrs May herself acknowledges, she has, however unfairly, become an impediment to the resolution of Brexit and was no longer being given a hearing by Parliament.
“Yesterday’s elections will surely show that delivering Brexit is now more urgent than ever, and that will fall to a new Prime Minister.
“It’s time to get on with the process of appointing one.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the Prime Minister’s time in office had been characterised by “hard work, resilience” and “quiet dignity”.
Ms Davidson said: “The Prime Minister has always put country before party and, by announcing her resignation and setting out a plan for an orderly departure, she has shown that commitment again today.
“Theresa May knew when she took on the job of Prime Minister that the challenges facing our country were unprecedented.
“Her time in office has been characterised by the hard work, resilience, quiet dignity and attention to detail for which she is known.”
She added: “Above all, by opposing the SNP’s call for an immediate second independence referendum in 2017, the Prime Minister demonstrated her resolute commitment to the union and to Scotland’s place in it.
“As Britain’s second female Prime Minister, she has been a role model for girls and women across the United Kingdom, showing that there is no glass ceiling to their ambitions.”
Ms Davidson added Mrs May’s successor must demonstrate a level of commitment to Scotland’s place as part of the UK.
“On behalf of everyone in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party I would like to thank her for her years of service as an MP, party chairman, Secretary of State and Prime Minister,” she said.
“As leader of the Scottish Conservatives, I want to see candidates show that same level of commitment to Scotland’s place in the union, an ability to advance our interests at home and abroad and, crucially, demonstrate how they intend to bring our country back together after the divisions sown by two constitutional referenda.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We don’t just need Theresa May out, we need the Tory government evicted from Downing Street.
“Labour is ready to govern and we will transform our country so it works for the many, not the few.”