Theresa May was publicly accused of “hiding" from the people during her visit to Scotland to urge voters to choose a Conservative government and stay part of the UK.
Video footage shows the Prime Minister getting out of her car and meeting Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, and they smiled for the cameras while ignoring the calls of a group of protesters.
"May, meet the people," they called out.
Ms May told Ms Davidson in a video, filmed privately behind a fence, "It’s great to be in Scotland because as we look ahead to this general election, really, it is, I think, the most important general election the UK has faced in my lifetime. Every single vote is going to count.”
Ms May has refused to appear in one-on-one televised debates with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and her other rivals, despite more than 119,000 people signing a petition which calls on her to participate.
Ms May‘s visit to oil and gas companies in Aberdeenshire will have done little to thaw frosty relations with Scotland’s SNP leadership and voter base which is battling against a Tory-led government in Westminster.
Her party has seen increased support among the voter base in Scotland, however, with a third of Scottish voters claiming they would back the Conservatives in the election, according to a Panelbase poll. The poll surveyed 1,029 resident adult voters between 18 and 21 April.
Folk are actually shouting "meet the people" at cowardly May as she scuttles into hiding while in Scotland pic.twitter.com/dgyY74HZI5— Jamie (@jamieszymko) April 29, 2017
“My message to the people of Scotland is clear - every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in the Brexit negotiations,” Ms May told a group of supporters at the Scotland campaign event.
“That will strengthen the Union, strengthen the economy and the UK and Scotland together will flourish, because if Scotland is flourishing the rest of the United Kingdom is flourishing too.”
The Panelbase poll found that support for independence in Scotland is at 45 per cent, the same level as in 2014, while 41 per cent of those surveyed favour independence if Scotland remains inside the EU.
While the Tories retain a 17-point national lead in the polls over Labour, the margin of victory has narrowed in the past two weeks, according to research by YouGov and Opinium.
Ms May has been widely criticised by the Scottish National Party and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for not granting the Scots permission to hold a second independence referendum between 2018 and 2019. Ms May claimed that “now was not the time”, and within weeks she had announced a snap election on 8 June, arguing that Westminster must be "unified" before Brexit negotiations begin.
A Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times Scotland found that 52 per cent of voters believe the Ms May should not block a referendum if Ms Sturgeon retains a majority of seats for promising such a vote in her manifesto.
The last time the two leaders met to discuss Brexit, the Daily Mail produced its infamous “Who won Legs-it?” front page, which Ms Sturgeon called out for proving how far women had to go before they achieved equal rights, but which Ms May described as a “bit of fun”.
Her party has also been criticised for instating the new two-child cap for families receiving child tax credits, and invoking the so-called rape clause, which means a woman can still receive credits if she claims that she conceived her third child as a result of sexual assault. The clause was branded as “disgusting” by Ms Sturgeon and the issue was debated in Holyrood last week while their colleagues in Westminster mostly remained silent.
The most recent SNP gripe with the Conservatives has been the party's use of the fishing industry’s demise, one reason people voted to leave the EU, as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit negotiations.
“In the wider UK context, the fishermen must be regarded as expendable,” Ms Sturgeon quoted the Conservatives.
“The SNP stands up for fishing, the Tories sell them out,” she said.
The SNP also grilled Ms May in Westminster last week over whether the Prime Minister would ensure the triple lock guarantee on state pensions, arguing a failure in this regard would disproportionately impact women pensioners.
Ms May insisted under her Government that incomes for pensioners “would increase”.