A SCOTTISH Tory MP has taken up a key role in a lobby group for the Union which is aiming to influence government and the Conservative Party.

Andrew Bowie, who is a vice-chairman of the Tories, became an unpaid director of the Conservative Union Research Unit Ltd (CURU) in June this year, according to the latest MPs register of interests.

The entry states the unit will ­“provide research and briefings to members on topics relating to strengthening the union of the ­United Kingdom”. Three other MPs have also declared their role as directors, including ­Robin Millar, the MP for Aberconwy who has previously been reported to be leading the group.

Gareth Bacon, the MP for ­Orpington and Dr James Davies, who represents Vale of Clywd, are also listed as directors.

According to the CURU’s website, it now has more than 80 backbench MPs in its membership. It states: “CURU provides research and ­briefings to its members on issues of relevance and helps build arguments for strengthening the Union. 

“An Advisory Board of senior ­members of both Houses, chaired by Andrea Leadsom, advises CURU on how to best to achieve its objectives.”

The emergence of the group was reported in July last year, as the ­Conservative Union Research Group. It was said that it aimed to emulate the success of pro-Brexit hardliners in the European Research Group, who helped force Theresa May from office.

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In response the SNP’s Pete Wishart (above) said the last thing the Conservatives needed was “a bunch of unknown Unionist obsessives … to extol the joys of their failed Union”. He added: “The Unionist cause has no leadership, no compelling case to remain in the UK and nothing to ­offer Scotland in their isolated Brexit future.

“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.”

In September, Millar claimed the group would be more constructive ­towards Boris Johnson and its one aim was to “support the Government in strengthening the Union”.

WRITING in a newspaper article, he said: “Turn on the television, read some newspapers or surf social media and you could be forgiven for thinking that this Union, the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is in decline, drifting apart and into our peripheral vision.

“We might catch a glimpse at a royal occasion, a sporting event or in the Union Jack on a Mini-Cooper light cluster.

“But it seems it is fading, an inconvenience – perhaps even to some, an embarrassment.

“A new generation of Conservatives who will not be dismissed as nostalgic flag-wavers, wandering Westminster humming Rule, Britannia!”

An article on website Conservative Home last year also suggested the group would try to persuade ministers to broaden their arguments against granting a second referendum.