Scottish Secretary not declaring support for candidate in Tory leadership race

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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has confirmed he will not reveal who he is supporting in the Tory leadership race.

Widely seen as a close ally of Boris Johnson, Mr Jack told BBC’s Reporting Scotland on Tuesday he will not declare who he is backing in the race to succeed the prime minister.

“I’m not going to declare who I am going to be supporting in the race,” Mr Jack said.

Cabinet Meeting
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack will not publicly back a candidate in the Tory leadership race (James Manning/PA)

Instead, he revealed he would be speaking to all the candidates about issues facing Scotland.

He said: “I will be speaking to them to discuss matters relating to Scotland and what I believe is important and what I want to put on their radar.”

Mr Jack said the “key tests” for leadership candidates were surrounding the issue of a possible second independence referendum.

He added: “The key tests are around the situation facing Scotland with Nicola Sturgeon’s declaration a few weeks ago about holding a second independence referendum.”

Mr Jack is not the only senior Scottish Tory holding their cards close to their chest. Most of the party’s MPs and MSPs have not publicly announced their support for a candidate, including leader Douglas Ross.

Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, has publicly backed Rishi Sunak in his bid to lead the Conservatives and Borders MP John Lamont has backed Penny Mordaunt.

MP portraits
Andrew Bowie is backing Rishi Sunak in the upcoming Tory leadership election (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Writing in today’s Scottish Daily Mail, Ms Mordaunt said she would “overturn” the SNP’s “yellow wall” in Scotland, ending their electoral dominance.

She wrote: “We are the only party that has ever shown the strength to stand up to the SNP.

Economic pacts
Penny Mordaunt is one of the frontrunners to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative leader and Prime Minister (Aaron Chown/PA)

“It will be a long road to get there but we must aspire to unite the pro-UK majority and form the Scottish Government.

“We must be a party that seeks power everywhere in our United Kingdom.”

Under the rules set out by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, leadership candidates who fail to get 30 votes in the first ballot will be eliminated, with a second vote expected on Thursday.

The process is then likely to continue into next week, with candidate with the lowest vote dropping out, until the list of candidates is whittled down to just two.

They will have the summer recess to win the support of the Tory membership, which will ultimately chose the next Prime Minister, with the final result due on September 5.

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