Boris Johnson may have a new weapon to fight against the prospect of Scottish independence, according to an ex-Labour MP.

Gisela Stuart, who was nominated for a peerage last week, told the Express that the Prime Minister may have an ace up his sleeve in the form of Douglas Ross.

She suggested that Mr Ross' appointment as leader of the Scottish Conservatives could work as a "powerful weapon" against the breaking of the union.

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The Vote Leave chair said: "The work that is happening right now across Government is particularly significant.

"Trying to maintain the integrity of the UK.

"They are in the process of really increasing the work that goes on into that.

"One interesting thing that has happened recently is the decision of the Scottish Conservative Party to quite dramatically change their leader.

"And hand it over to a new generation of politicians."

She added: "I hope that what will happen now is Ministers going to Scotland and Wales.

"We really shouldn't forget about Wales. And make the case of the United Kingdom as a union."

Mr Ross claimed on Friday that he wants independence to be a “non-issue” at next year’s Holyrood election in light of Boris Johnson ruling out a second referendum.

He said he would rather the issue be melted into the background.

Recent polls have put support for Scottish independence at 54%, and predict the SNP are on course for a landslide victory at next year's Holyrood elections.

But Ms Stuart said that Nicola Sturgeon's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has shown she has been successful in nation-building, rather than making the prospect of independence more likely.

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She said: "No. I think it has shown Nicola Sturgeon has been successful in nation-building.

"But she has not been successful in statecraft, the machinery of that.

"Now it is time for the UK has to show that there are things that benefit Scotland, and they are a result of being in the United Kingdom

"On corona, we are still right in the middle of this.

"Hold on folks, this is far from over."