BORIS Johnson has "accelerated" the launch of a new Tory “Union task force” to try and stop Scottish independence

Government insiders told the Financial Times that the group of Tory MPs from England, Wales and Scotland would report to Downing Street, “feeding in policy ideas and mak[ing] the positive case for the Union".

Details emerged as Tories were forced to defend their commitment to the Union after Johnson told a group of MPs from the north of England that devolution had been a "disaster". 

One senior Scottish Tory MP told the FT: “We have to make sure the Union is at the heart of everything we do, every policy needs to have a Union Jack emblazoned on it.”

The formation of the task force has been accelerated in the wake of the departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.

According to No 10 insiders, Cummings did not place great importance on the Union. “He never cared about the Union. Tonally he’s an English nationalist,” one well-placed Tory told the FT.

The paper also revealed that some of No10’s new televised press briefings, set to begin in the new year under the auspices of press secretary Allegra Stratton, will be broadcast from the devolved nations.