Jeremy Hunt has insisted preserving the Union between Scotland and the rest of the UK comes ahead of delivering Brexit in his list of priorities. 

The Foreign Secretary, who is facing off against Boris Johnson to be the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, said he will support the Union “with every drop of blood” in his veins.

It comes after a poll showed 63 per cent of Tory members would be happy to see Scotland split from the UK as the price of securing Brexit.

Meanwhile, a separate survey for the Sunday Times found support for independence would surge to 53% if Mr Johnson is handed the keys to Number 10.

READ MORE: Majority would back Scottish independence if Boris becomes PM, poll suggests

Asked about this, Mr Hunt said: “That poll shows why I’m the Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon least wants, and for a very simple reason: that I believe in the union with every fibre of my being and I will never allow the union to be broken up as Prime Minister.

“And unlike Nicola Sturgeon, I’m on the side of the Scottish people who say they don’t want another divisive referendum – they want the SNP Government to focus on health and education and things that matter to ordinary Scottish families, not things that divide them.”

The Foreign Secretary made the comments as he visited Peterhead in the north-east, where he met representatives of the fishing industry and later called in on his 99-year-old great-aunt Betty just outside Aberdeen.

In a bid to woo Scottish Tory members – many of whom fear Mr Johnson could prove disastrous – Mr Hunt emphasised his Unionist credentials during his first trip north of the Border since the start of the race.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson will 'swat' SNP like midges, claim Scottish MPs 

However, he dodged questions about his rival Mr Johnson’s private life, which has come under renewed scrutiny after police were called to his home following an apparent row with his girlfriend. 

Mr Hunt had earlier told Sky News that “someone who wants to be PM should answer questions on everything”, but he would not be drawn further on the issue.

Asked if Mr Johnson was fit to be Prime Minister, he told journalists in Peterhead: “I think the trouble with criticising someone else’s character is that we are all very aware of our own character flaws, and I think you go down a slippery path, and in the end it’s really bad for our political system. 

“I think people should make their own judgements about the characters of the individuals, but the debate I want to have, if I’m going to criticise Boris for one thing, it is ducking every opportunity to debate properly on live TV what his solutions are to Brexit.

“That’s the thing that matters most, and so I’m going to restrict my criticism to that because I think that’s the thing that people most want to hear from our Prime Minister.”

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who supports Mr Hunt, signalled it would be better if Mr Johnson was clear about what happened.

He told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: "I think it is always easier to just give an explanation."

Mr Johnson's campaign for Number 10 was rocked by revelations police were called to the home he shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds, amid reports of shouting and banging. Yesterday, a poll suggested his popularity had been hit by the row.

Mr Hunt, who spent part of his childhood in Scotland, said he did not believe the recent survey showing Tory members elsewhere in the UK would be prepared to ditch Scotland to deliver Brexit. 

He added: “Conservative Party members that I know are absolutely passionate about our precious Union.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Boris Johnson as PM would be ‘disastrous’ for Tories

Asked how he would answer the question of what comes first, Brexit or the Union, he said: “The Union, every time.”

He also insisted Scots did not want another independence referendum. 

He said: “I listen to the people of Scotland, and what they’re saying is that they don’t want the divisiveness that set friend against friend, family against family – they don’t want that.

“I think it’s time that Nicola Sturgeon did what the people of Scotland want, which is to focus on health and education and all the things that she was elected to deliver.”

Elsewhere, Mr Hunt said he was “happy to look at” plans to create a free port in Aberdeen or Peterhead, which would hand lucrative tax breaks to companies. Mr Johnson’s team is reported to be advancing such a scheme.

The Foreign Secretary also said it is important to have a “pro-business” immigration policy and insisted he does not support slashing migration to the tens of thousands. 

He said he would be open to lowering the planned £30,000 salary threshold for EU workers in the face of criticism from senior Scottish Tories that this bar is too high for Scotland.