The Government's decision to pay the wages of millions of furloughed workers during the coronavirus pandemic has underlined the value of the Union, according to the new Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross
However, Mr Ross warns Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the Tories have been too complacent over maintaining the centuries-old link between England and Scotland as he pledges to fight "the false promises of nationalism". Mr Ross's comments come amid concern that the SNP government has been successfully using the approaches to the crisis in Edinburgh and London to drive a wedge between Scotland and England.
Last week, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, became the fifth UK cabinet minister to travel to Scotland in recent weeks as part of a bid to ensure that the UK government has a presence in Scotland.
In a further sign of the Government's commitment to the Union, the Prime Minister will holiday in Scotland this month. His trip will coincide with the Queen's trip to Balmoral, but Mr Johnson is not expected to meet with Her Majesty as she remains in a "bubble" with the Duke of Edinburgh and a limited number of staff, according to The Mail on Sunday.
Official analysis in June showed that more than a quarter of Scottish workers have seen their jobs saved by Treasury bailout schemes during the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 600,000 employees had been furloughed north of the border by the end of May, with a further 146,000 self-employed people in Scotland making successful applications to an income support scheme.
In an article for The Telegraph, Mr Ross says the Treasury's decision to spend so heavily on saving jobs has "demonstrated" the benefits of the Union in full.
He says: "Millions of workers have benefited from the UK Government’s furlough scheme, one only made possible by the country’s broad fiscal shoulders.
"Nobody has been asked to set out whether they are Scottish, Welsh, English or Northern Irish in order to receive prompt support."
Yet he warns that it is wrong that it took a crisis of the scale of the coronavirus pandemic to make the case for the need for Scotland and England to stay together.
He says: "It should not require a crisis for those benefits to be revealed to us all. And the truth is, for too long, that case has not been made.
"Since devolution 20 years ago, there has been a tendency in Whitehall to “devolve and forget”. Left unchecked, this is deeply dangerous and could end in the nations of the Union simply drifting apart.
"We can’t let this continue. We must find new ways to show that our Union is a common endeavour, held together not just by convenience, but by shared values and mutual gain.
"And we should set our sights higher – recognising that the benefits of a strong UK aren’t just felt by those of us who live on these islands, but across the world, too. "
Mr Ross warns: "Too often in the past we lapsed into complacency, assuming those arguments were self-evident.
"Or we have relied on the clear and obvious weaknesses of separation, as if that would be enough to persuade the people of the United Kingdom to stay united. It won’t."
Mr Ross urges Mr Johnson to "find more ways to work together with the governments of the UK, to improve the relationship between them, all the better to show that our Union is inclusive and in touch.
"This is about forging a new cooperative approach which shows that the Government wants every part of the country to benefit from our shared enterprise."
Mr Ross says that it is in the SNP's interests to present the Union as "unstable" because the party wants to distract from the party's "utterly abysmal record as a government in Scotland".
He adds: "We keep being told the Union is in crisis. But with a little care and attention, I believe the case for the Union will be shown over these coming years to be capable of withstanding the false promises of nationalism."
The SNP last week renewed its calls for the Treasury to continue the furlough scheme to avert "the risk of mass redundancies" north of the Border.