Boris Johnson has been blocked from making a speech at Scottish Conservative conference by Ruth Davidson, according to reports.
The Scottish Tory leader moved to ban the former foreign secretary from the stage in case the event turned into a “leadership hustings”, a source close to Davidson told HuffPost.
Johnson had offered to attend the conference in Aberdeen with Brexit-backing MP Ross Thomson, but Davidson declined and said he could visit Scotland the following week instead.
Davidson confirmed on Friday, in an interview with ITV, that the pair had a “very nice chat” and Johnson had been “more than obliging” about her decision.
“It’s not been hard for us to secure speakers from the UK Cabinet for this conference,” she said. “There have been plenty that have offered, but there’s only been a few that we’ve invited.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, meanwhile, were handed key roles at the conference.
Javid will address delegates on Friday and Gove is appearing on Saturday morning ahead of Davidson’s closing speech.
Johnny Mercer and former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey are also attending.
It comes as Theresa May’s position as leader was under fresh scrutiny in the wake of disastrous local election results, with Johnson regarded as the frontrunner in the impending race to succeed her as Tory leader and prime minister.
But he and Davidson have clashed previously. Asked about the impending contest, Davidson, who last year ruled herself out of the race, also pointed out that Johnson “didn’t get over the start line”.
Asked who she would support, she said it would be the candidate who could best “advance Scotland’s interests within the United Kingdom”.
She also stressed the importance of the next Tory leader being able to “bring the UK back together after Brexit because that’s been as divisive for the whole UK as independence has been here in Scotland”.
Davidson has repeatedly said she is focusing on the 2021 Holyrood elections in which she hopes to oust SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as first minister of Scotland.