THE Scottish Conservative party has publicly divided over who to support in the contest to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Nine MSPs, including more than of the party’s front bench at Holyrood, came out for frontrunner Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Monday.

Today, eight other MSPs and two MPs came out for the underdog in the Tory leadership race, the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Writing in the Times, the group backing Ms Truss, who spent some of her childhood in Paisley, said she was a “child of the Union” who would secure the future of the UK.

The nine include Murdo Fraser, Rachael Hamilton, Liam Kerr, Stephen Kerr,  and Oliver Mundell, who are all members of Douglas Ross’s shadow cabinet.

Also backing Ms Truss are Finlay Carson, Sharon Downey, Douglas Lumsden and Graham Simpson.

The nine said Ms Truss, who is promising £30bn of unfunded tax cuts, would “break with Treasury orthodoxy by investing directly in projects in Scotland that will benefit the families, communities and businesses we represent ''.

However in the Telegraph today, the ten supporters of Mr Sunak said he was most likely to win the general election and so stop “any dodgy backroom deal” between Labour and the SNP.

They also said the former Chancellor was best placed to unite the Tory party after a bitter and often highly personal campaign.

"In a time of crisis we need strong, competent leadership," they added, suggesting Ms Truss offered neither.

The ten are former leader Jackson Carlaw, MSPs Donald Cameron, Liz Smith, Miles Briggs, Maurice Golden, Jeremy Balfour, Dean Lockhart and Alexander Stewart, and MPs John Lamont and Andrew Bowie.

Mr Ross has refused to pick a side in public, leading to accusations from the SNP that the Scottish Tory leader is a coward.

Asked about the split on BBC Radio Scotland this morning, Mr Fraser said it was merely a sign of a healthy debate in the party over the leadership.