A PLAN by Boris Johnson to invest billions in Scotland's transport network, among other union-boosting measures has come 'too late' to make an impact ahead of the elections, and described as "complete c**p" by party sources.

The Prime Minister is reportedly planning to unveil a blue-print for the union in the week after the Holyrood elections, with measures including treating Scottish patients in English hospitals, investing in infrastructure, paying for students to study in other parts of the UK and urging diplomats to make the case for the union, and against independence, abroad.

It is said that Mr Johnson and senior cabinet minsters are concerned about Thursday's elections, saying it is being treated by the SNP as a "referendum on a referendum".

A meeting is due to be held later this week with Mr Johnson, cabinet office minister Michael Gove, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the secretaries of state for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to discuss the response to the election results.

However one cabinet minister told a newspaper yesterday that voters may be better off voting for another pro-union party other than the Scottish Conservatives to try and stop Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

They are reported to have said people should "vote for parties that will save the Union and avoid Scotland going into the chaos of economic uncertainty at a time when we have to build back better under Covid".

The remark has outraged some within the Scottish Conservatives, arguing that it will only seek to undermine their campaign and demonstrates "a lack of understanding about the Scottish voting system overall".

Several senior Tories told The Herald yesterday they were concerned by the remarks, with one party figure describing it as "complete c**p".

READ MORE: Boris Johnson to unveil union-saving blueprint after Holyrood elections

Another added: "This is nonsense, and beyond belief that the most senior figures in our government would advocate for voting for another party. I have no idea what they're playing at, but whatever it is it's entirely unhelpful.

"The best way to protect Scotland and prevent a second referendum is voting for the Scottish Conservatives on the peach ballot paper."

On Mr Johnson's 'blueprint' itself, another Conservative source said that some of the ideas are worthwhile but have already been announced, while others appeared as if the UK Government was "clutching at straws".

They said: "There are some good ideas here, but if it was an attempt to convince people in Scotland that Boris is taking the union seriously then I don't know why this plan isn't being announced before the election."

HeraldScotland:

Philip Rycroft, a former senior civil servant who has worked on devolution, and for both the UK and Scottish Governments,said Mr Johnson's union-saving plan was"clearly too late to make much impact in the run up to this week's elections."

He added: " There are some good ideas in here, for example facilitating Scottish students to study in English universities (and vice versa), as well as improvements to connectivity.

"[The] key thing is the way this is done. If the extra spending is managed in a collaborative way, as per the existing city deals, it may help to demonstrate for some people how the union is still working for all parts of the UK.

"People by and large want the two governments to work together. If it is done in a politically aggressive way, seeking to by-pass the Scottish government, any benefit is likely to get lost in the noise of the political fight."

The SNP said the plan "reeks of desperation".

Keith Brown, the party's depute leader said: "Having dragged us out of the EU against our will then ignored Scotland throughout the Brexit process while plotting a power grab on Holyrood, Boris Johnson now seems to think he can bribe Scottish voters. 

"But people will not be fooled. They know the Tories are planning fresh austerity - including a plot by senior ministers including the Scottish Secretary to slash spending, which would threaten public services, including our NHS. 

"Only giving both votes to the SNP will guarantee the strong leadership and bold policies needed to move the country from pandemic to recovery, and re-elect Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.”

Last night a UK Government spokesman said: "Scotland has two governments, and it is absolutely right that the UK Government invests directly in Scotland.

"We will be working with local authorities, who know their communities well. People in Scotland can expect significant direct UK Government investment in their communities in the coming months and years.”