Boris Johnson would not change the Barnett formula if he becomes prime minister, according to a source from his leadership campaign.
The comment came after the team backing Jeremy Hunt for the top job urged Mr Johnson to stop “dodging questions” on the future of the formula – which allocates public spending increases to the Scottish Parliament – and rule out scrapping it.
The SNP said that doing away with the formula would “slaughter” public services in Scotland.
The Tory leadership hopeful’s views on the issue have been under scrutiny as the race to succeed Theresa May to Number 10 continues.
Mr Johnson is said to have made multiple statements over the years suggesting he would get rid of the funding model.
However, a Boris Johnson campaign source said on Sunday: “There’ll be no change to the Barnett formula if Boris wins the leadership of the Conservative & Unionist Party and becomes prime minister.
“For the SNP to suggest otherwise shows a hitherto unseen level of desperation and underlines just how much they would fear a Conservative & Unionist Party led by Boris.”
Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont welcomed what he described as an apparent U-turn from Mr Johnson.
Mr Lamont, Mr Hunt’s campaign manager in Scotland for his bid to become prime minister, said: “I’m pleased that despite what Mr Johnson has said in the past about reviewing the special funding arrangements for Scotland, he has now apparently U-turned on this policy.
“Jeremy Hunt has always been clear that he supports the continuation of the Barnett Formula, no if, buts or U-turns.”
A spokesman for Mr Hunt said: “The Barnett formula is essential to protect Scotland’s public services. That’s why a government run by Jeremy would maintain it, to help ensure Scotland’s schools and hospitals get the funding they need.”
SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “The Tories have longed for the opportunity to hammer Scotland’s budget for years – but the people of Scotland won’t stand by while Westminster politicians plot to cut money from our vital public services to fund their disastrous no-deal Brexit.”