THE Scottish Conservatives are poised to give fresh consideration to breaking away from the UK party if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, The National has learned.

Discussion on the possibility of an new right-wing party north of the Border is under way after it emerged the former Foreign Secretary and Brexiteer is the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May.

READ MORE: Andrew Tickell: A storm is brewing for the Scottish Tories as May rusts away

Ahead of the EU referendum in June 2016 sources close to Scottish Tory boss Ruth Davidson suggested the party could split off in the event the Old Etonian became PM.

And now there is renewed talk on the issue following May’s announcement last week she will quit if her Brexit deal is passed.

“There have been various murmurings around the formation of a separate Scottish party in the past. Indeed there have been suggestions coming from sources close to Ruth that it might be something she might favour,” one parliamentarian told The National.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: Poll finds Brexit is now the biggest factor

“Certainly if Boris became Prime Minister there would be a lot of discussions in the Scottish party about what it would mean for us. I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Asked if it could happen, he replied: “It could”.

David Mundell has previously been a major critic of the idea, but insiders are currently speculating whether he would be ready to change his mind if Johnson became Prime Minister. The Scottish Secretary has repeatedly insisted he could not serve in a Johnson Government.

“David’s view on a separate party would be very significant,” the source added.

He went on to say Tories north of the Border – including all but one of the party’s 13 MPs – would be lobbying Westminster politicians against Johnson and backing Environment Secretary Michael Gove to succeed May.

“The general view among my colleagues is that having a hardline Brexiteer Prime Minister would not be good from our point of view. In that respect somebody like Boris Johnson would not go down particularly well. There are a lot of folk in the Scottish party who would quite like to see Michael Gove as Prime Minister,” he said. “Michael is from Aberdeen, he’s Scottish, he does understand Scotland to a greater extent than some of his colleagues. I think most people’s preference would be somebody who is more of a remainer and I guess more moderate. The two go hand in hand. Yes Michael was a Brexiteer but he’s seen as more of a centrist.”

He continued: “It will be up to the MPs as a group. They will whittle the candidates down to the last two. I can think of one Scottish Conservative MP [Ross Thomson] who is an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit. But I would be surprised if there is wider support for Boris within the wider Scottish group. We will be using their influence with colleagues to press our views.”

In 2011 Shadow Scottish Finance Secretary Murdo Fraser put forward proposals for a separate Scottish Tory party in his leadership bid against Davidson.

A poll commissioned by Conservative Home at the time suggested that developing a more distinct identity, with different policies from the rest of the UK Conservative Party could boost the party – and help it appeal to younger Scots. The survey of 1030 Scottish voters found that 33% thought that the change would have a positive affect while 20% thought it would have a negative effect. People aged 18 to 24 were most positive by 43% to 15%. It found 40% of all Scots think the change would make no difference.

But Fraser, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, was defeated in the 2011 contest to take charge of the party. The move would require the Scottish Tories to register as a new party, completing a legal process involving a change to its constitution and the adoption of a new set of rules.

A majority of Scottish MPs and MSPs would have to back it and the proposal would also have to be endorsed by the grassroots.

“Murdo’s Way Forward plan wasn’t a goer in 2011, but it depends what happens now. There were people who were sceptical then, who might be more open to it in the event we ended up with someone like Boris as Prime Minister,” said the insider.

A second party source said the mood in the party north of the Border was one of “exhaustion” and “helplessness”.

The National: Sources close to Scotland Secretary David Mundell say he is not yet too concerned about the possibility of Boris becoming PMSources close to Scotland Secretary David Mundell say he is not yet too concerned about the possibility of Boris becoming PM

“There is a feeling at the moment that the bounce that was expected when Ruth comes back from maternity leave is not going to materialise. Members are concerned that what is happening to the party in Westminster could have a fairly catastrophic effect on the party in Scotland,” he told The National.

“And it looks like when May goes and there is an election, she could take a lot of the Scottish MPs with her. People are really exhausted about what is going on around them in the Westminster party and it is a situation over which they seem to have no control. There is a feeling that Tories in Scotland would like a distinctive Scottish Conservative stance on the Brexit problem and are uncomfortable with simply towing the English line.”

Ahead of the EU vote in 2016, there was speculation that the prospect of Johnson replacing David Cameron as Prime Minister was causing such concern in the Scottish top team that going solo was seen as a viable option.

A source close to Davidson told the Courier in June 2016: “If Boris becomes leader we’ll do a Murdo. We’ll have to break off.”

Party insiders told the paper at the time that Davidson had distanced the Scottish party from the UK Tories in several key policy areas and they campaigned in the 2016 Holyrood election under the banner “Ruth Davidson for a strong opposition” rather than the Conservative name.

There is no love lost between the Davidson and Johnson.

She savaged her opponent in an article for a tabloid newspaper, arguing a Leave Vote would be “a conscious decision to make Britain poorer” which “would hurt the poorest the most”.

She added: “Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage would be OK; the wealthy are always able to fall back on their pension pots and savings. It would be ordinary workers who would suffer: the easyJet air hostess who could lose her job because, after Brexit, the airline would be priced out from flying within Europe; the dad on the factory floor at one of our many car-makers whose job disappears because Europe has slapped a new tariff on British-made motors; the single mum on a zero-hours contract whose job is extinguished to cut costs.”

Friends of Mundell believe the idea of Johnson becoming PM is “deeply hypothetical”.

One source said: “The Secretary of State is focused on ensuring we leave ‎the EU in an orderly fashion. That is the priority right now. However, he has made it clear that whoever leads the Conservative Party must be as strong a champion of the Union and Scotland’s place in the UK as Theresa May is.”