Nicola Sturgeon too much of a threat to the union to be ignored, says Rishi Sunak

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Nicola Sturgeon too much of a threat to the union to be ignored, says Rishi Sunak
Nicola Sturgeon too much of a threat to the union to be ignored, says Rishi Sunak

LIZ Truss is burying her head in the sand over Scottish independence, 
her Tory leadership rival Rishi Sunak has said.

The former chancellor criticised his rival in the Tory leadership contest for saying she would “ignore” Nicola Sturgeon.

He claimed it would be “dangerously complacent” for the Conservatives to take no notice of the First Minister.

Mr Sunak said: “Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP pose an existential threat to our cherished Union. Arguing that we should ignore them is dangerously complacent.

“We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and pretend they aren’t there – we need to stop them in their tracks. That’s exactly what I would do as prime minister – holding the SNP to account for its failings and personally ensuring that the UK Government has a laser focus on delivering for every part of our United Kingdom.”

At the start of the campaign, Mr Sunak was popular with the Scottish Conservative Party but his momentum has stalled north of the Border, with Ms Truss winning more endorsements from MSPs.

In a bid to win over more Scottish party members, Mr Sunak promised that under his leadership the Government would be the most active in Scotland in decades by sending ministers north of the border more regularly.

“Every single” Government department would operate UK-wide, even those whose remit is devolved, he added.

The Chancellor also promised to review the relationship between the central party and the Scottish Tories.

He said he would provide a campaign manager in every Holyrood seat.

Mr Sunak also said he would beef up No 10’s beleaguered Union Unit.

Responding to the comments, the SNP MP Mhairi Black said Mr Sunak did not have “the faintest idea” what ordinary people are dealing with.

She said: “Rishi Sunak is the same man who has slashed Universal Credit by over £1,000 for millions, hiked National Insurance payments and has now just admitted he wants to take public money from the areas that need it most and hand it over to the wealthier towns,” she said.

“He has made it crystal clear that he stands for just one thing, making the rich richer and the poor poorer, and people across Scotland know this.

“As the richest MP in Westminster, he doesn’t have the faintest idea what ordinary people in Scotland, and elsewhere, are facing daily during this Tory-made cost-of-living crisis as bills and food prices sky-rocket.

“Scotland hasn’t voted for the Tories for more than 50 years, yet we keep getting saddled with Tory governments and Tory prime ministers who will only ever work to widen the inequalities gap and try to block Scotland’s democratic right to choose its own future.”

Downing Street’s Union Unit has had a troubled few years under Boris Johnson.

Luke Graham, the former Scottish Tory MP, who headed the unit, was unceremoniously sacked in February last year.

Two weeks later, his successor, Oliver Lewis, a leading Vote Leave campaigner and an ally of Dominic Cummings, quit the role after being accused of leaking “unpleasant information” against Michael Gove.

Mr Gove then headed a reformed Union Strategy Committee.

However, he was sacked by Mr Johnson in July for “disloyalty” after he told the Prime Minister to quit, with a No 10 source later describing him 
as a “snake.”

Earlier this week, Ms Truss infuriated SNP when she responded to a question about independence by describing Ms Sturgeon as an attention seeker who was best ignored.

 

On a Sky News debate on Thursday she was asked whether she would apologise to Ms Sturgeon if she met her as Prime Minister.

 

“No, I won't,” she replied.

 

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