The frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, Mr Johnson’s “do or die” attitude and the SNP’s “extreme nationalism” could trigger a deadly reaction for the union, Mr Brown said. He argued Mr Johnson could only save the UK as a whole if “the progressive case for Scotland’s role in Britain is made and strongly made”. The former Labour leader, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010, said Mr Johnson’s euroscepticism has antagonised him in the northern parts of the country, as has been regarded in Scotland as an anti-Scottish behaviour.
And he attacked both Mr Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon’s party as he outlined his plans for a new think-tank to make the “positive, patriotic and progressive case for the union”.
Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, Mr Brown said: “Johnson’s hardline, anti-European Conservatism – which is also seen in Scotland as anti-Scottish – versus the SNPs extreme nationalism, hell-bent on abandoning the UK pound and our 300-year-old single market and customs union”.
He also described the UK as “united in name only with two extreme and bleak views of our future in head-on conflict”.
He continued: “Nothing illustrates the sterility of this head-to-head confrontation better than yesterday when, in the wake of news of Scotland having the worst and most deadly drug problem in Europe, the SNP and the Conservatives simply blamed each other.”
Mr Johnson, the Labour added, has a long story of “anti-Scottish invectives”, which eventually “will come back to haunt him.”
This comes after the frontrunner in the leadership contest met 11 out of 13 Scottish Conservative MPs at Westminster on Wednesday.
During the meeting, described as “positive” and “businesslike”, Mr Johnson reassured his desire to bolster the union and protect Scotland’s interests.
Speaking to the Scottish MPs, the former Foreign Secretary outlined when he should first visit Scotland if elected, how MSPs could feed into policy decisions and the structuring of his Cabinet.
However, Mr Johnson’s relationship with the leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, is known to be strained.
Mrs Davidson initially supported Michael Gove and Sajid Javid, and is now backing Jeremy Hunt.
This is not the first time Mr Johnson vows to defend the union.
During the hustings in Perth, both he and his rival Mr Hunt insisted the unity of the UK would be more important than Brexit if it came to a choice between the two.