The man who defeated Alex Salmond in the 2017 general election has backed Liz Truss to become the next prime minister.
Former Gordon MP Colin Clark, who was dubbed the “Salmond slayer” following the victory, said he wants to see the foreign secretary in the top job because she has the “long-term vision and ability to build bridges and unite the whole of the UK”.
Ms Truss has confirmed she would seek to block any future referendum on Scottish independence if party members choose her over former chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The current favourite to replace Boris Johnson as Tory leader said she would “do what is necessary and right to defend our Union”.
‘A natural leader’
Mr Clark, a former Scotland Office minister, said that while working alongside Ms Truss, he “saw up close her leadership abilities”.
“Liz is a natural team builder seeking to unify, not divide, and that is why I am supporting her to be prime minister for the whole of the United Kingdom,” he said.
Mr Clark stated that in his experience the leadership hopeful “understood the importance of the Union, business and job creation in every corner of the UK”.
He also pointed to her career working for energy giant Shell before entering politics.
Mr Clark said this means Ms Truss “understands the industry, its importance to the Scottish economy, how dynamic and creative oil and gas companies are for existing legacy jobs and renewable energy jobs”.
He added: “Having lived in Glasgow and Leeds, Liz is not mesmerised by the southern English home counties, she believes in delivering a levelling up agenda, fixing schools and improving the NHS nationally.”
A ‘hands-on’ Unionist
The former Gordon MP said Ms Truss has gone “toe-to-toe with Putin’s henchmen” as foreign secretary and expanded export markets for whisky, technology and oil and gas support firms during her time as a trade minister.
“Liz is a hands-on Unionist rejecting the SNP’s defeatist grievance politics, promoting the entire UK as one united people and economy able to embrace change and see opportunities beyond our shores,” he said.
Ms Truss told the Sunday Telegraph she believes SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon “is now leading a campaign of deception to steamroller the UK and break up the union”.
“Any Scotland independence referendum would need to be authorised by the Westminster Parliament,” she said.
“If I become prime minister, I would not grant that authority.”
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the comments show how “out of touch” Ms Truss and her leadership rival Rishi Sunak are with people across Scotland.
Former MP blocked from Holyrood bid
Mr Clark, who previously supported Boris Johnson to become leader and backed Brexit, lost his Gordon seat in 2019 to the SNP’s Richard Thomson.
He was then at the centre of an internal Tory row when he was blocked by former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson from returning to frontline politics.
His attempt to stand in last year’s Scottish Parliament election was rejected by Ms Davidson’s candidate committee because it said he had a “poor record working with others” and was guilty of a “lack of campaigning”.
Mr Clark told us he was “absolutely stunned” by the decision.