JEREMY Hunt has insisted he could deliver a no-deal Brexit while still protecting the Union from a Nationalist push for Scottish independence.

As both candidates seek to emphasise their Unionists credentials this week ahead of the Scottish husting in Perth on Friday, the underdog in the Tory leadership contest described himself as a “Unionist to my finger-tips” and has previously insisted he would defend the Union “with every drop of blood” in his veins. Asked last week, what came first, Brexit or the Union, he declared: "The Union, every time."

But when pressed that if there were a Brexit, possibly with no-deal, would he be prepared to sacrifice the Union for that, the Foreign Secretary declared: “No…Of course, there are risks about what someone like Nicola Sturgeon would do politically if we had a no-deal situation and we would have to get through that. That is why a no-deal Brexit is not my first choice but, in the end, if the only way to leave the EU is without a deal, then I would do that.

“We would make a success of it and we will protect the Union but we would have to be very sensitive to the concerns that people like David Mundell raised because it would not be popular in Scotland.”

The Scottish Secretary has argued that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” for the UK and Scotland and pose the biggest threat to the Union.

When it was suggested there was a fundamental contradiction in his saying the Union would always come before Brexit while also stressing Britain would leave the EU without a deal if necessary, Mr Hunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “No, because it is not a question of choosing one or the other.

“It’s a question of choosing a prime minister, who has the capability to deliver both. If you send to Brussels someone who can negotiate a deal, that can get through Parliament, then you won’t have a no-deal situation and then you reduce those risks.

“But I am also very clear we are going to leave the EU come what may and I will deliver that. If that happens, I will deliver it in a way that protects the Union because it’s absolutely vital we do.”

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson sought to underpin his pro-Union credentials by announcing in a newspaper column that he would change the title of the PM’s office to include “Minister for the Union”.

The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May also said he would set up a new unit in No 10 to “sense-test and stress-test every policy for results it may bring to Union”.

He wrote: “I simply cannot understand why anyone would want to mutilate this country and to break it up. So, if I am lucky enough to be elected in next few weeks, I will do anything in my power to stop that disaster and to bring this country together.”

He again argued that securing EU withdrawal would “spike the guns” of the SNP, adding: “A sensible Brexit will enhance the Union and protect it and make life more difficult for those who wish to destroy it.”