A majority of Scottish Conservative MSPs are backing Jeremy Hunt to be the next Prime Minister.
Following party leader Ruth Davidson’s announcement she would support the Foreign Secretary in the Tory leadership contest, 18 further MSPs have signed a joint letter to back his bid against rival Boris Johnson.
More than half of the party’s 31 MSPs have signed the letter, including deputy leader Jackson Carlaw.
Mr Hunt’s support is more sparse among Scottish Conservative MPs as only three of the 13 representatives at Westminster have put their name to the letter – John Lamont, Bill Grant and Paul Masteron.
Among the Scottish Conservative MPs backing Boris Johnson is Ross Thomson, who is running his campaign in Scotland.
Douglas Ross, Colin Clark and Andrew Bowie also support Mr Johnson for the top post.
The letter backing Mr Hunt states: “Now more than ever, we must choose a candidate who we can trust to unite the country.
“The eventual Prime Minister must be able to deliver a good Brexit deal and even more importantly, protect and strengthen our precious union.”
It adds: “Many of us previously backed other candidates, including Rory Stewart and Michael Gove.
“We did so because of their energy, ideas and their commitment to Scotland’s interests within the UK.
“The more we see and hear from Jeremy Hunt, the more we have become convinced that he has those same necessary attributes to lead and unite the country.”
The letter continues: “There is no issue of greater importance to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party than ensuring that Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom is protected and enhanced.
“Jeremy Hunt has proven to us that he understands Scotland’s interests and will do whatever it takes to keep Scotland in the union.
“He also has the experience, in both business and Government, to find a way to deliver a good Brexit deal.”
It concludes: “We are confident Jeremy Hunt is the best choice to strengthen the union, deliver Brexit and move the United Kingdom on with astute policies that will turbo-charge our economy and build the most pro-business environment in Europe.”
In a statement, Mr Johnson’s campaign team in Scotland said: “From having 11 leadership candidates to now having two, each and every Conservative candidate is a unionist. It’s in our party name. No candidate is more unionist then the other.
“The real threat to the union is failing to deliver Brexit by October 31 and allowing Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, into No. 10 agreeing to another independence referendum.
“Only Boris Johnson can deliver Brexit, restore trust in our democracy and unite the country.”
Mr Hunt said: “I visited Scotland on the first weekend of my campaign to set out how I would strengthen the union.
“I am delighted to have since gained the backing of so many Scottish Conservatives.”