Alister Jack, who built up his multi-million-pound wealth through his tent-hire and self-storage businesses, said he would put forward “significant sums of money” to back 2011 Scottish Tory leadership contender Murdo Fraser’s plan to split from the UK Conservatives in order to “detoxify” the party’s brand in Scotland.
“I’m completely confident that we can raise more money for the new party than SCUP has raised for many years,” he said at the time. “We shouldn’t be frightened of stepping out on our own.”
Ruth Davidson, whose close friend and ally David Mundell was sacked by Boris Johnson to make way for Mr Jack, campaigned against the plans for a breakaway.
The Scottish Tory leader repeated her opposition to any split yesterday, saying she was “irked” by the speculation and insisting: “Not on my watch”.
Speaking during the 2011 contest, he said: “Everyone’s concerns about Murdo’s plans would be whether he would get enough support to get the party off the ground.
“For years the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has needed someone to take the bull by the horns and tell us how to sort ourselves out. In Murdo, we have him.”
In a statement, Mr Jack said that the “world has moved on since 2011”.
The Scottish Secretary added: “The party has made great strides both north and south of the Border and that success has come about by all of us working together under the fantastic leadership of Ruth Davidson.”