THE only Scottish person in Boris Johnson's Union Unit has been sacked from the role over an indyref2 dispute.

Luke Graham, the former MP for Ochil and South Perthshire from 2017 to 2019, is leaving the post after a “brutal” row on Friday, the day after the Prime Minister returned from a visit to Scotland.

The Financial Times reported he clashed with Oliver Lewis (known in No 10 as "Sonic") who is taking over what Government officials described as a “beefed-up union unit”.

Lewis was a key Tory figure in last year’s Brexit trade negotiations and is believed by the Tories to have campaigning credentials, but he is not known for any particular expertise in Scottish politics. He threatened to resign over the departure of Dominic Cummings in November, but was persuaded by the Prime Minister to stay in Downing Street.

Lewis's colleagues said he wanted “a clean slate” and to build a new team. “Oliver is good at this stuff — he knows this can’t just be about brute economics,” said one colleague. “It’s about passion, identity and about promoting the idea that you can be proud to be Scottish and British.”

Some insiders say Graham, who will now move to Edinburgh to work with the Scottish Tories, did not have the authority to do his job. "There was a lack of faith in letting him do what he needed to do. A lot of his efforts were frustrated by other people in the building," one said.

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Johnson has repeatedly insisted that Scots don't want a new vote on independence, despite 20 polls in a row putting Yes in the lead. Lewis’s role will be central to Number 10’s efforts to counter the SNP.

Graham was apparently unhappy with both his role and the Tories' strategy for the Union. “There was a lack of faith in letting him do what he needed to do. A lot of his efforts were frustrated by other people in the building,” one said. One Scottish Tory said: “Luke was the only one who gets Scotland in there, it’s a big shame he’s gone and speaks to their total lack of a strategy on how to deal with the SNP.”

Another Whitehall official told the Financial Times: “Luke Graham has improved the focus of the government on delivering for Scotland and all parts of the UK and has helped ensure communications focused on demonstrating the practical value of the union to people in all parts of the country.”

But others in Downing Street were more critical: "Luke had gradually pissed off more and more people. He didn’t endear himself to other spads, ministers or civil servants. No one was weeping to see him go”

Downing Street declined to comment on “personnel matters”. Graham also declined to comment on his departure.

An insider with knowledge of the dispute said: “They did such a bad job of sacking him, he didn’t realise he had been sacked. The HR was appalling.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson ignores support for independence in polls on visit to Scotland

Asked about a future vote on independence on his visit to Scotland last week, Johnson said: “My strong feeling is that the whole country needs to work together. I want to work together with the devolved administration to get through the pandemic and to bounce back strongly. The other side, I think that's the focus that people have, I think that talking about another referendum is really not the priority of people”.

He added: “There was an independence referendum in 2014, which was clearly advertised by leading members of the SNP, I think, possibly, including the current first minister, as a once in a generation event. I think we should stick to that. 

“I don't think that the people of Scotland or anywhere else are focusing on constitutional wrangling or necessarily want constitutional wrangling to displace our joint efforts, our energies which should be focused on beating Covid beating the pandemic and bouncing back strongly together.”

The row comes as more pressure is put on Michael Gove to publish the results of a long-awaited Union review.

READ MORE: MPs unite to demand Michael Gove publish secret Union review

The Cabinet Office minister has promised to make the results of the Dunlop Review public in 2020, but the papers are yet to see the light of day.

MPs on four Westminster committees have now united to demand action from Gove.

The Dunlop Review, commissioned in July 2019 by then-prime minister Theresa May, was charged with examining devolution and recommending how the Union could be strengthened.

Former Scotland Office minister Lord Dunlop – who also advised David Cameron on issues of devolution – was put in charge of the work.

It is thought to have been completed early last year, and has been kept under wraps by Downing Street ever since.

READ MORE: Stephen Paton: Union Unit is another failed Tory attempt to pander to Scots

Reports suggest it includes more than 40 recommendations for a major shake-up of Whitehall, including moving officials outside London to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The chairs of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, and the Scottish Affairs, Welsh Affairs and Northern Ireland Affairs committees, have all joined together to call for its publication.