Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak pledge to 'take on' Nicola Sturgeon during Perth hustings
Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak both pledged to “take on” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP as the pair addressed Scottish party members in Perth.
The two candidates to be the next prime minister criticised the SNP’s record in government, particularly over education and health.
Sunak accused the Scottish Government of “imposing austerity” on some devolved areas in order to fund social security pledges.
He claimed the welfare budget in Scotland was increased by half at the expense of agriculture, education and health.
And on the question of a second referendum, he said he “can’t imagine the circumstances that I would” allow another vote,
The former chancellor added: “I don’t just want to ignore Nicola Sturgeon; I want to take her on and beat her.”
Meanwhile, Truss said she “will not allow another independence referendum” because the vote in 2014 was “once in a generation”.
Regarding statements from senior SNP politicians that it was once in a generation, she added: “I believe in politicians keeping their promises and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promises.”
Asked by STV’s political editor Colin Mackay why she could change her stance on Brexit but Scottish people could not change their view on independence over the last eight years, she replied: “I respected the democratic will of the people.”
The two Conservative politicians were also questioned about their plans for supporting households facing the cost of living crisis.
Truss said she would temporarily suspend the green energy levy and reverse the national insurance increase, but did not announce further action, insisting she would wait to have the full Treasury information available.
Sunak said cutting taxes would be the wrong approach and said he would offer direct support to families, as he did when he was chancellor. However, he ruled out following Labour’s calls for freezing the energy price cap.
The SNP's deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald MP, said: “This was depressing watching for Scots - almost two hours of two out-of-touch Tory ministers trying to out-Thatcher one another, denying Scots their democracy, and trashing the record of the same Tory government they’ve been a key part of.
“The pair repeatedly attempted to tell us tonight what Scotland wants. Scotland has made it clear what it does and doesn’t want by repeatedly rejecting the Tories at the polls and repeatedly voting for independence-supporting parties.
“Scotland hasn’t voted for the Tories since the 1950s yet we keep getting saddled with Tory governments and prime ministers. We were told in 2014 that Scotland’s place in the EU would only be safe if we rejected independence - that was a lie. It’s time Scotland had a say on its future - and it’s clear that whoever wins this gruesome Tory contest will only increase support for independence.”