Liz Truss backed campaign for Scottish Conservatives to split from UK party

A contender to become the next Conservative Prime Minister once backed a campaign for the Scottish Tories to split from the UK party.

Right-winger Liz Truss congratulated MSP Murdo Fraser after he mounted a leadership campaign in 2011 based on a breakaway.

A new centre-right party that would compete in Scottish elections is again being discussed at senior levels if Boris Johnson clings on as PM.

Truss, currently Foreign Secretary, was supported by Tory members to be the next leader in a recent survey by the Conservative Home website.

Bookmaker Paddy Power is offering odds of 9/2 for her to take over if Johnson is toppled.

She and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are expected to go head–to-head in any contest.

The Record can reveal she was enthusiastic about a controversial campaign in 2011 for the Scottish Tories to effectively set up a new party.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser ran on the idea of creating a new centre-right party in Scotland
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser ran on the idea of creating a new centre-right party in Scotland

The contest to become Scottish leader was between Ruth Davidson and Fraser, who championed the idea.

In October 2011, Fraser tweeted details of a meeting in London at which he briefed MPs on his ground zero proposals.

Truss responded: “When and where is this meeting?”

A day later Truss tweeted Fraser’s official campaign account: “Saw Murdo yesterday afternoon. Great campaign!”

Davidson’s opposition is believed to have won her the crown, but Johnson’s antics have put the idea back in the spotlight.

Another senior Tory to back Fraser at the time was George Eustice, who is now Johnson’s Environment Secretary in Cabinet.

He wrote in 2011: “It would be an audacious plan, but one that the party should seriously consider.”

He added: “Any new party would be a unionist party but potentially a more vibrant and successful one.”

One of Liz Truss' tweets
One of Liz Truss’ tweets

A tweet after the meeting
A tweet after the meeting

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack was also enthusiastic about the Fraser shakeup. He said at the time:

“I have spent this week in conversation with a number of other individuals from the business community who are very excited about a stronger centre-right political force that will stand up to the SNP and which will have low taxation and decentralisation at its heart.

“I have given Murdo my assurance that significant sums of money will be in place if he wins this leadership election. I’m completely confident that we can raise more money for the new party than SCUP has raised for many years.”

Jack has since changed his mind.

An SNP spokesperson said: “With the Scottish Tories starting to talk seriously about the need for independence from Westminster – and even would-be Johnson successor Liz Truss apparently in favour – it demonstrates breath-taking hypocrisy to deny the people of Scotland, who have already voted for a referendum, that same choice.

“Sadly, outrageous hypocrisy is a defining character of the Tory party.”

Andy Maciver, Director of Message Matters and former Tory Head of Communications, said:

“It’s easy to think this is a Boris Johnson problem, but it’s not. Every Scottish Tory leader all the way back to David McLetchie has been enormously frustrated at being constantly forced to answer for whatever is happening in London. Anyone who thinks this will go away with a new leader in London needs to take their heads out of the sand.”

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