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Nicola Sturgeon indyref2 plan branded 'barmy' as Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak take aim at First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish independence referendum campaign has been branded "barmy" as Tory leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss took aim at the First Minister.

The former Chancellor and Foreign Secretary, between them, name-checked the SNP leader more than 10 times during the hustings in Perth earlier tonight.

Truss and Sunak have been touring the country to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister after he was forced out by his ministers and MPs due to a number of scandals.

During the hustings the pair were asked their thoughts on an independence referendum that Sturgeon wants to hold in October next year.

Sunak said he could not "imagine the circumstances" in which he would allow a second vote if he becomes prime minister.

Pressed whether he would rule out the referendum or allow it, Sunak told the Tory leadership hustings in Perth: "I can't imagine the circumstances in which I would.

"We live in a union which is of course there by consent and by democracy and I accept that, but I just don't think that anybody thinks that now or any time in the near future is remotely the time to focus on this."

Sunak had earlier become irate with the hustings host, STV's Colin Mackay, as he asked about the referendum, telling him: "It would be great if I could just answer the question, Colin, that you posed. That would be marvellous, thank you very much."

Members of the audience of Conservative Party members could be heard to cheer and clap in response.

He added: "It is quite frankly barmy for politicians to be trying to focus on a divisive and unnecessary constitutional referendum at a time where people are worried about heating their homes.

'Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise'

While, Truss said she will "not allow" another referendum on Scottish independence, saying the 2014 vote was "once in a generation".

She added: "If I am elected as prime minister, I will not allow another independence referendum."

Truss' assertion was met with applause from the crowd at Perth Concert Hall.

Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss speaks during a hustings event in Perth (REUTERS)

She said: "At the time of the 2014 referendum, it was agreed by the SNP that it was a once-in-a-generation referendum. I believe in politicians keeping their promises, and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise.

"What she should do, rather than agitating for another referendum, is dealing with the very real issues in Scotland."

'Options for the next UK Prime Minister are truly grim'

Reacting to the hustings in Perth the SNP's Westminster depute leader Kirsten Oswald said "it’s time Scotland had a say on its future".

She added: "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.

"It seems both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have very short memories - and it became even clearer that neither have a clue what ordinary folk are facing during this cost-of-living crisis, nor do they have a plan to support them.

"That is because they have spent their time in the Tory government making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Sunak wants to take from the poor to give to the rich, and Truss thinks the solution to all problems is for British workers just to "graft" more. The options for the next UK Prime Minister are truly grim.

"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."

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