RUTH Davidson has backed Sajid Javid in the race to become Prime Minister, avoiding a thornier choice between the main frontrunners.

The Scottish Tory leader said the longshot Home Secretary “embodies the Conservative values of aspiration, education, opportunity, hard work and just reward”, and is “an instinctive and committed Unionist”.

The son of a bus driver, the Bromsgrove MP made a fortune in banking before taking a pay cut to enter parliament in 2010.

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Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Davidson said Mr Javid had been “born into poverty” but made a better life for himself and his family before “walking away from a lucrative career in order to give back in public service to the country he loved and which offered his immigrant parents a home.

“In an age when authenticity is everything, Saj is the real deal... You underestimate Saj at your peril.”

She added: “The Conservative party has often struggled to speak to the experiences and aspirations of certain groups - the young, urban professionals, ethnic minorities.

“With Britain now so deeply divided, we need our next Prime Minister to be a unifier.

“Sajid isn’t just best placed to tell the story of modern Britain, he embodies it.”

Mr Javid, who launches his campaign on Wednesday said: “Ruth knows a winner when she sees one. Being different is a secret weapon, not something to be afraid of.”

Backing Mr Javid is a safer choice for Ms Davidson than backing one of the main rivals to Boris Johnson in case the latter becomes PM, but puts her at odds with many of her own MPs, who have backed Michael Gove, including Stephen Kerr and Luke Graham.

The endorsement also brought criticism from Labour, as Mr Javid recently said he would be prepared to leave the EU without a Brexit deal.

Ms Davidson was a leading advocates for Remain in 2016, and has argued equally vigorously against no-deal as it could damage the Union.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “A no-deal Brexit will cost jobs, damage our economy and put our NHS at risk. Yet this is the very chaos that Sajid Javid is committed to imposing if he becomes the next Tory Prime Minister.

“This is a reckless decision that calls into question Ruth Davidson’s judgement.

“Any Brexit deal must be put to a confirmatory vote, and I am clear that Scottish Labour will wholeheartedly campaign for a Remain victory in such a vote.”

Ms Davidson also warns in a new book today that her party could be “out of power for a generation” if it keeps failing to focus on society’s bigger challenges because of Brexit.

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In the foreword to Britain Beyond Brexit, she says the Tories have “ failed to focus on the massive challenges that face our society in a fast-changing world” because of the Brexit impasse.

Arguing for “a strong social contract”, she says: “If we do not wake up and realise that economic success alone is not enough, then our future as a viable political party could be in danger. The facts are clear and should be repeated at every opportunity: unless we embrace new thinking, we will continue losing the younger generation. We will continue losing the argument. And we will certainly continue losing their votes.”