TENS of thousands of Scots could switch from supporting the SNP to the Tories in the forthcoming General Election, a senior member of the UK government has insisted.

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove made the claim - insisting the party will be “competitive as never before” north of the border -  despite a new poll presented at the Conservative conference which suggested the Tories are set to lose as much as 58% of their voters in Scotland from 2019 and 2021 at the next election.

Gove held out the example of MP Lisa Cameron – who defected from the SNP and joined the Conservatives, with Gove claiming that she had “shown the way that I know tens of thousands of other Scots will be following at this forthcoming general election”.

The MP vowed that at the election, the “Scottish Conservatives will be competitive as never before”.

READ MORE: Poll: Tories could lose 58 per cent of past voters in Scotland

He told the party’s Scottish conference in Aberdeen: “It’s not just the case that there are seats where we are defending, where we will increase our majority, there are seats we can win and win well across the whole of Scotland.”

Gove, who was born and grew up in Aberdeen, used his speech to attack the SNP’s record in government at Holyrood on areas such as education, saying: “When I was educated in Scotland’s schools, they were the pride not just of the United Kingdom, but the envy of Europe.

“Now no longer. It is because this Scottish Government has presided over changes in our education system, particularly to our curriculum, which meant we slipped down the international league tables and Scotland’s schools now lag behind those of England and those of other European countries.

“It’s a tragedy, and it’s solely down to the SNP.”

The National: Michael Gove

Meanwhile, on the economy, he claimed that Scotland “used to be at the entrepreneurial leading edge when it came to innovation and job creation in the UK economy” but said that now the country was “the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom, we’re seeing an effective brain drain”.

This is despite impartial researchers at the House of Commons library found most Scots experience a lighter tax burden than those down south.

The analysis, authored by a senior Library clerk in its economic policy and statistics division, said that 52% of Scots paid less in tax than if they lived in England, in the current financial year.

Hitting out at the SNP, Gove said: “They say they’re the party of Scotland. They’re not, they’re the party of division that has let us all down.

“The sooner we see the back of them the better for everybody’s sake.”

He added that the election will see voters given “two competing visions” for Scotland’s future, claiming these would be “a vision of a Scottish Government led by Humza Yousaf that has had its chance and failed” and an alternative “vision championed by Scottish Conservatives that ensures that this United Kingdom, with Scotland at its heart can be stronger than ever before”.