A Scottish Conservative MP who supports Boris Johnson has branded party colleagues “a***holes” for opposing the former foreign secretary.
Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson said Johnson’s speech at a fringe event at a Tory conference in Birmingham had received an “electric” response, praising his “energy, optimism, passion and enthusiasm”.
It comes following media reports that other Scottish Conservative MPs have joined forces in a project dubbed “Operation A**e” to prevent Johnson from succeeding Theresa May as Tory leader.
In a Twitter outburst, Thomson said: “Regardless of your view of Boris Johnson, today in his characteristic style he injected some much needed energy, optimism, passion and enthusiasm to a flat conference.
“The reaction in the hall was electric which even those ‘Operation A***hole’s’ (sic) can’t deny. #ChuckChequers”
Labour said Thomson’s comments highlighted Tory infighting and proved it was “high time to evict these chancers from Number 10”.
Johnson’s address on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to May’s Chequers Brexit plan, saying the proposals amounted to “forfeiting control” to Brussels, adding it was “a cheat” and “politically humiliating”.
Thomson also praised the former foreign secretary on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme following the speech.
He said: “The great thing about this conference is that the Prime Minister has been able to hear, loudly and clearly from the grassroots of the party, that they are unhappy with Chequers.
Thomson added: “You saw the reaction that Boris got in the hall today, which was absolutely overwhelming – standing ovations as he came in and as he left and applause throughout.”
He suggested May’s team would be hoping for “something similar” as she prepares for her conference-closing address on Wednesday, urging her to change course.
“The alternative is there, the free trade agreement that we want with the EU, rather than the aligned common rulebook, staying in the European Court of Justice option of Chequers,” the MP told Scotland Tonight.
“If she pivots towards free trade very easily, and even calls it ‘Chequers 2’, I’m sure that we’ll have rapturous applause in the hall.”
Thomson was earlier pictured at Johnson’s side during a hectic media scrum at conference on Tuesday.
But other leading Scottish Tory figures have put on record their support for May and opposition to the ex-London mayor, including Ruth Davidson and Scottish secretary David Mundell.
Davidson said ahead of conference she would welcome a “period of silence” from Johnson, while Mundell attacked him as “focused on his own self-interest” and as an electoral liability in Scotland.
So-called “Operation A**e” was reportedly launched after private Tory polling suggested Johnson would bring about a reversal of recent electoral gains for the Conservatives in Scotland if he became leader.
Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay: “Ross Thomson’s late night tweet about Ruth Davidson and her supporters highlights the deepening civil war in the Tory party is not confined to England.
“Ruth’s insistence that she can stop Boris’ march to power has been shown to be as superficial as her claims that her MPs would fight the worst excesses of this Tory government.”
He added: “The Tories are tearing themselves apart at their conference whilst they edge Scotland ever closer to the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.
“It’s high time to evict these chancers from Number 10 Downing Street and elect a radical Labour government.”
Thomson was previously branded a “disgrace” by opposition parties in April after joking he was channelling “his inner dictator” on a visit to Saddam Hussein’s former parade ground in Iraq.