BORIS Johnson's government has drawn up a "five-step" plan to save the Union from collapse as 20 successive polls record majority support for Scottish independence.

And the official being lined up to stop Scots and people in Northern Ireland leaving the UK is a veteran of the Vote Leave campaign – despite some 62% of Scots and 56% of people in Northern Ireland voting to remain in the European Union.

Oliver Lewis who was deputy to Lord Frost in the Brexit negotiating team, is expected to take charge of the special unit.

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Part of the team's strategy, it is reported in the Sunday Times, will seek to present a "warmer and more multicultural" image of the Tory government to Scots with London sources saying it would try to overturn the “woke left view” that the Union is somehow a residue of empire. 

The move comes as polls show most Scots now back independence with the SNP repeatedly saying the UK Government is in a panic about what to do to hold the UK together.

Details of the Union policy implementation committee's a five-step programme were reported on this morning after it met last week.

It listed the five points:

  • To fight the Scottish elections hard rather than offer up constitutional concessions in advance.
  • Simultaneously to launch a campaign to persuade Scots of the benefits of the Union.
  • To oppose a referendum and hope that causes the SNP to fight among themselves over tactics.
  • To only later consider further devolution and only then as part of wider reforms throughout the UK.
  • Finally, if there is a referendum one day to control the timing and terms of the vote. One minister told the paper: “I don’t think there is any member of the cabinet who doesn’t realise how important this is."

The first step will be to properly contest the election. “We won’t be giving up without a fight,” a senior No 10 official said. 

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The “high end argument” advanced by ministers and Unionists is designed to engender more warmth towards the Union by overturning the “woke left view” that it is somehow a residue of empire. 

The report said efforts will be made to present a more positive and multicultural image of the Tory government and to underline that two of the top four jobs in the hands of non-white ministers as more multicultural than France or Germany.

"The union will be sold as forward thinking on green issues and technology", the paper reported.

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It added: "More practically, London insiders said, the case will be made that the rollout of the vaccine in Scotland, using members of the British armed forces and the UK Treasury’s support for jobs is evidence of valuable co-operation. 

“The point is to say that Scottish nationalists want you to chose between the two countries, why wouldn’t you want to have both?’” one of those involved said. “We have to show, not tell.”

In addition to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and the secretaries of state for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, last week’s Union committee was attended by Ben Wallace, Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss, the cabinet ministers responsible for defence, business and trade. 

The National: Business Secretary Kwasi KwartengBusiness Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

The issues discussed recently include how to get the best possible deal for Scotch whisky in trade agreements and how to ensure Scotland benefits from the defence industrial strategy.

In a bid to boost the Union, London has deliberately kept control of money that used to go into EU structural funds that used to pay for better roads in the Highlands rather than let the Scottish government get the money and the credit, the report said.

The UK Government’s internal polling shows that when people are asked detailed questions they do want a common currency, welfare system and access to universities throughout the UK. “When you ask about the details, people are instinctively unionist,” one of those familiar with the numbers said.

It was also reported that the new committee would seek to engage with former Labour PM Gordon Brown.

The SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford responded to the developments.

“Not content with setting up a ‘Union Unit’ in the Cabinet Office to pump out unionist propaganda like slurry the Tories are now setting up a committee at the heart of government to fight against Scotland’s right to choose independencem" he said.

“There is nothing the Tories at Westminster will do to stop the people of Scotland expressing their democratic will and now they are handing out taxpayers money to prominent Vote Leave campaigners – Vote Leave is now wagging the tail of the unionist dog.

“Not only that, but the Better Together band is being tuned up again as Michael Gove reaches a desperate hand out to Gordon Brown.

“The Scottish people will see right through this attempt to deny their democratic right from both the Tories and Labour, we have seen this show before. With the litany of broken promises made by both the Better Together and Vote Leave campaigns, people in Scotland will know to expect more of the same this time round.

“It is not up to the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gordon Brown to decide Scotland’s future, but it will be the people of Scotland who will have the right to choose their future.”

Meanwhile, a four-country survey commissioned by the Sunday Times and based on separate polls in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, found that the sense of British identity that once bound the country together is disintegrating.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: Opposition parties react with fury to SNP’s route to Yes

In Northern Ireland, a majority — 51% to 44%  — want a referendum about the border within the next five years. And unionists hold only a slender lead over those who want a united Ireland now — 47% to 42 % — but another 11% are undecided, enough to threaten the future of the UK.

The LucidTalk survey in Northern Ireland found that among those aged under 45, supporters of Irish reunification outnumber those who want to stay in the UK by 47 per cent to 46 per cent.

But the polls show that voters in all four corners of the land expect Scotland to become independent within the next 10 years — by margins far in excess of two to one in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Irish voters also think there will be a united Ireland within 10 years by a margin of 48 per cent to 44 per cent.

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The Scottish poll, conducted by Panelbase, found that the SNP is on course for a huge landslide in the Scottish Parliament elections due in May — likely to be the trigger for a new political crisis.

A forecast by Sir John Curtice, Britain’s leading election expert, shows the SNP picking up seven seats more than in 2016.

Brexit and the coronavirus crisis also appear to be driving Scottish voters away from union with England. Today’s poll shows that 53% would vote to rejoin the EU, a number that corresponds closely with the number who would back independence.