THE country’s main anti-independence campaign has split over Brexit and the approach to a second referendum.

Former staff from Scotland in Union have formed a breakaway operation targeting a younger audience with aggressive “populist” messaging on social media.

The new rival campaign, UK Unity, holds its official launch event in Glasgow tomorrow.

ANALYSIS: Meet Scotland's alternative unionists

Calling itself a “vibrant and dynamic grassroots movement that has the best interests of our country at heart”, UK Unity also warns darkly the country is being betrayed by political elites.

A recent graphic on its Facebook page shows the First Minister with the slogan: “Sturgeon says she wants to kill Brexit. We say, sod off. Send her a message”.

And in a video filmed outside Holyrood, the group’s spokesman says “separatists” want to use the “devolved assembly” to block a UK-wide vote on Brexit.

The group opposes more powers for Holyrood on the grounds it would harm the Union.

The campaign has been set up by David Clews and Kyle Coats, who until last month were development manager and social media coordinator respectively at Scotland in Union.

Mr Clews, a former Renfrewshire councillor, said Scotland in Union was too “scared” to talk about Brexit, but UK Unity was “enthusiastic” about making it part of the case for the UK.

ANALYSIS: Meet Scotland's alternative unionists

Unless Unionists dealt with Brexit head-on, the SNP would demonise it to undermine the Union and engineer another referendum, he told the Herald.

With a £1000 start-up budget, the London-registered group claims to have signed up more than 2000 supporters in a fortnight, with a social media campaign reaching 1m people.

With a blunt, confrontational style designed to set it apart from Scotland in Union, the goal is to replace it as the country’s main non-party campaign for Unionism.

Renfrew-born Mr Clews, 35, said: “Scotland in Union are agnostic on Brexit. They don’t have a view on it, which is ludicrous when it’s the only issue being talked about just now.

“I said they should at least come out and discuss it, but they were too scared of touching it.

“Intrinsically, all the people are Remainers. But it was a UK-wide decision and we have to respect it. What I’m arguing is that with Brexit there is hope. It’s not all doom and gloom.”

Elected a Tory councillor in 2007, Mr Clews defected to Labour in 2011, and left elected politics in 2012, but remains an “on/off Labour member”.

He said: “I would describe ourselves as populist. We believe that in Scotland there’s a need for a much more aggressive pro-UK campaign, one that can remind people of the hope that being part of the UK can bring.”

SNP MSP George Adam said: “It's refreshing to see the ultra-unionists experiment with independence - taking their own future into their own hands. But it's little wonder that this right-wing front is tearing itself apart over Brexit - much like the Tory party.”

The split comes amid signs of strain at Scotland in Union.

ANALYSIS: Meet Scotland's alternative unionists

A £250-a-plate fundraiser at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House raised an estimated £350,000 in late 2016 thanks to blue-chip patrons and a jaw-droppingly extravagant auction.

With guide prices up to £12,500, lots included stays at private safari lodges in Kenya and Botswana, French and Swiss skiing chalets, centre court seats at Wimbledon, a polo festival in India, and assorted deer stalking, fishing and grouse shooting events in the Highlands.

There was a £100-a-ticket raffle to win a Mini Cooper convertible, a VIP tour of the Rangers FC training facility and seats in a director’s box courtesy of Paul Murray, and a signed copy of the JK Rowling novel, A Casual Vacancy.

In January, with speculation mounting Nicola Sturgeon would call a second referendum, it hired former Labour MSP Graeme Pearson as its £50,000-a-year chief executive.

He admitted he had “never heard” of the group, which claims to have 25,000 supporters.

But after Ms Sturgeon delayed her plans, Mr Pearson quit in August and was replaced by Pamela Nash, the former Labour MP for Airdrie & Shotts.

This autumn, Scotland in Union held £150 and £100-a-plate fundraisers in London and Edinburgh, but on a far more modest scale than last year.

Auction lots in London included a team building event at the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure, golf at Woburn, a brewery tour, and three nights in an Edinburgh flat.

Raffle prizes included Union cufflinks, a sports shop voucher, and, instead of JK Rowling, a signed copy of Alex Salmond: My Part in His Downfall by Telegraph veteran Alan Cochrane.

Asked if Scotland in Union was still cutting it, Mr Pearson said: “I would like to hope so.”

He said: “The challenge for Scotland in Union, given the Nationalist debate has gone into a cupboard because it’s inconvenient, is to maintain some kind of opposition and be ready when the Nationalists come out to fight their argument again.”

Alastair Cameron, Scotland in Union’s founder and executive director, denied it had lost its way.

He said: “Scotland in Union has no link to them [UK Unity] at all. I would not call them a breakaway group. I’d call them individuals who were with Scotland in Union who have decided to do something else.

“In terms of their suggestion that Scotland in Union has had is day, I don’t think any of us who are with Scotland in Union would believe that is the case.

“We think there is still an urgent need for a pro-UK, non-party campaign. Scotland in Union does not take a position on Brexit. Neither Leave nor Remain strengthens the case for separating Scotland from the rest of the UK.

“The new group is not in any way connected to Scotland in Union. They’ve gone and done something different - analogous to someone working for a medium-sized company going and setting up their own venture, but it’s not in any way connected to or endorsed by [us].”