A NEW group of “nondescript oddball” Tory MPs has formed a club aimed at pushing Boris Johnson to be even more pro-Union.

Little is known about the Conservative Union Research Group (CURG), other than it is modelled on the powerful Brexit-supporting European Research Group, and is led by Robin Millar, MP for Aberconwy in North Wales.

According to reports in The Times there are around 30 MPs involved, with most of them Scottish, Welsh or from the north of England.

Millar didn’t respond to The National’s request for details of who exactly those MPs are, or what the CURG’s objectives are.

The Times said it was part of a concerted push to ensure the future of the UK is kept front and centre in both the Government and the Houses of Parliament.

The European Research Group (ERG) was incredibly effective during Theresa May’s torturous time as Prime Minister. As she had no majority, the party within-a-party, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, was able to derail her attempts to get a Brexit deal through.

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They ultimately hastened her departure as Tory leader, helping to get Boris Johnson elected. The SNP’s Pete Wishart doubted whether the CURG would be as effective. It would, he said, likely add to support for Scottish independence.

He said: “With support for their Union increasingly becoming a minority interest, the Conservatives seem determined to drive support down even further. Quite frankly, the last thing they need is a bunch of unknown Unionist obsessives based on Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Reform Group to extol the joys of their failed Union.

“The Unionist cause has no leadership, no compelling case to remain in the UK and nothing to offer Scotland in their isolated Brexit future. This leaves the space open for nondescript oddballs such as these.

“Every time a Tory opens his or her mouth to disparage our nation, to tell us ‘No’ or to try diminish the powers of our Parliament, support for independence goes up. I am looking forward to the contributions this CURG will make to our cause.”

News of the new lobby group comes as the Prime Minister is due to head over the Border amid reports Downing Street is in “panic mode” after a number of polls suggested the majority of voters in Scotland now back independence.

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Panelbase surveys published in June and July found 54% of Scots would now vote Yes, a five-point surge since March.

Last week, Professor John Curtice, the UK foremost psephologist, said it was the first time in Scottish polling history when one could say that if there was an independence referendum today, on the evidence available, the Yes side were narrow favourites.

Earlier this week, Downing Street re-iterated that it would not approve a second independence referendum.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said his Government would “continue to uphold the decisive verdict” from 2014’s referendum.

He said: “The UK wide response to the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates, more than ever, the importance of the Union. Through UK Government support, more than 900,000 Scottish jobs have been protected and thousands of Scottish businesses have been granted loans.”

The spokesman added: “It was in 2014 that the Scottish people voted to keep our United Kingdom together. Both sides committed to respecting that decision, and the First Minister promised it would be a once in a generation vote. The UK Government will continue to uphold the decisive verdict from the referendum.”

SNP councillor Chris McEleny, who has long called for his party to adopt a Plan B for independence if Johnson again rules out allowing a independence referendum, said the case for an “alternative route” was “undeniable”.

The Inverclyde councillor believes that a pro-independence majority at next year’s Holyrood election should be a mandate to enter into independence negotiations.

McEleny said: “The reality is that, as polls show that given the opportunity Scots would now vote for independence, there’s even more reason for Boris Johnson to keep opposing a referendum, especially when he knows he may well lose it”.