TORY leadership hopeful Liz Truss’ campaign has been given a major boost after gaining the public backing of nine Tory MSPs.

Writing in The Times today, the politicians – five of whom are in Douglas Ross’ shadow team at Holyrood – said Truss was a “child of the Union” and that she was their best hope at preventing independence.

Finlay Carson, Sharon Dowey, Murdo Fraser, Rachael Hamilton, Liam Kerr, Stephen Kerr, Douglas Lumsden, Oliver Mundell and Graham Simpson all signed the letter, which has sparked a fresh war of words between rival camps.

Amid claims the Foreign Secretary would “break with Treasury orthodoxy” by directly investing in Scotland, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s team said her pledges were “simply a copy and past of current government policy”.

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Funding councils and other projects directly, part of the Government’s so-called Levelling Up policy, is controversial because it bypasses the Scottish Government, which the SNP and Greens have said undermines the devolution settlement.

The MSPs said: “Liz won’t play Nicola Sturgeon’s constitutional games. While the SNP continues its attempts to distract Scottish voters from their shameful record in government with a referendum sideshow, Liz as prime minister will focus on delivering for the people of Scotland on the issues they care about most.

“Liz will not be distracted by the SNP’s independence obsession, she will be laser-focused on uniting our country and delivering for it like we have never seen before.”

They said she had been “shaped” by her upbringing in Scotland, having attended a state primary school in Paisley before her family relocated to Leeds.

She revealed in an interview with the Sunday Times she had been mocked when she moved to England, with bullies branding her “Haggis Basher” because she still had a Scottish accent.

Truss was met with a sharp rebuff from the SNP’s deputy leader Keith Brown over the weekend when she said she would oppose a second referendum during her entire time in office, if elected Prime Minister.

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She is currently the bookies’ favourite to become the next Prime Minister, despite Sunak gaining the support of more MPs.

Sunak meanwhile enjoys the backing of MPs Andrew Bowie and John Lamont, and MSPs Jackson Carlaw, Donald Cameron and Miles Briggs. Baroness Ruth Davidson has also endorsed the former Chancellor.

Scottish Tory leader Ross has refused to publicly back any candidate, saying he will work with whoever wins the contest

The first postal votes for Tory members – including MSPs who are not eligible to vote in the first rounds of voting which are decided by MPs – land on doorsteps on Monday morning.