Liz Truss has said Nicola Sturgeon should focus on Scotland’s domestic issues rather than “agitating” for a second independence referendum.
The Tory leadership frontrunner told a hustings event in Perth on Tuesday that she “wouldn’t allow” another vote on independence if she becomes prime minister on September 5.
Protesters gathered outside the city’s concert hall shouting “Tories out” and holding banners saying “Scottish not British” as they pushed through the barriers in the most tense storming to date – and the first and only in Scotland.
Politics Hub: Truss gets the loudest cheer at Perth Hustings
Mrs Truss and Mrs sturgeon have dealt a blow since the favorite to succeed Boris Johnson said it was best to “ignore” the Scottish Prime Minister and her persistent calls to another independence referendum.
The SNP leader hit back, saying that in her limited dealings with Ms. Truss, the Secretary of State seemed most interested in ask her how to get into Vogue magazine.
In the audience, Mrs Truss called herself a ‘child of the union’ for living in Paisley as a young girl – and said the Scottish government should improve its record rather than seek another vote.
The Scottish government is pushing for the decision on whether or not to take place for a referendum to be taken from Westminster, with the Supreme Court deciding on its legality in an advisory capacity next year.
Ms Truss said: “If I am elected Prime Minister I will not allow another independence referendum.
“At the time of the 2014 referendum, the SNP agreed it was a referendum in a generation.
“I believe in politicians who keep their promises, and Nicola Sturgeon must keep her promise.
“What she should be doing, rather than agitating for another referendum, is addressing the very real problems in Scotland.”
She added that the Scottish government should instead be closing its NHS backlog.
Ms. Truss’s comments were somewhat overshadowed by questions about: a leaked recording in which she said British workers needed “more grafting” and lacked the “skill and application” of foreign rivals.
The clip, obtained by The Guardian, was recorded five years ago, but emerged earlier.
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In the meantime, Rishi Sunak was less emphatic in his rejection of another independence referendum.
The former chancellor said he accepted the union was “in agreement” and that he did not think “now or in the near future” was the time to consider another vote.
“We live in a union that is, of course, by consent and by democracy and I accept that, but I don’t think anyone thinks now or in the near future is the remotest time to focus on this.” he said.
SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said the event was “depressing” for people in Scotland and said the candidates were trying to “outdo each other”.
“The couple tried repeatedly tonight to tell us what Scotland wants,” she added.
“Scotland has made it clear what it does and doesn’t want by repeatedly rejecting the Tories in polls and repeatedly voting for independence-supporting parties.”