Former Chancellor and Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak has pledged to fight the SNP and challenge its record governing Scotland.
Speaking at the seventh hustings event in Perth tonight, he argued he would “not ignore” SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and instead would “take her on and beat her.”
He criticised Westminster’s “devolve and forget mentality” and revealed he would “not be shy in calling out the SNP’s record” on drug and alcohol abuse.
“It’s not good enough, the Scottish people deserve better,” he said to Tory members.
He also urged Sturgeon to focus on taming inflation and improving lives in Scotland, rather than a “divisive, unnecessary referendum.”
Sunak’s comments follow rival contender Liz Truss dismissing Sturgeon as an “attention seeker” last month – and suggesting it was best to ignore her calls for another referendum.
The SNP won 64 of 129 seats at the Scottish Parliament election last year, and has 45 MPs in Westminster.
It has been consistently calling for another referendum since the UK left the European Union, arguing the terms of Scotland’s relationship with Westminster had fundamentally changed.
Sunak remains the underdog in the race for Number 10 – with Truss widely expected to be named the new leader of the Tory party on 5 September.