Theresa May has appealed to Scots to "strengthen my hand as I fight to strengthen the Union" by voting Conservative in the General Election.

The Prime Minister made her pitch at the launch of the Scottish Tory manifesto in Edinburgh.

Scottish party leader Ruth Davidson used the same event to call on voters to use the June 8 poll to "bring the SNP down to size".

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Mrs May told supporters Scotland "can play a bigger role in our shared national life" as she promised to help the country "grow and flourish".

However the SNP said the Prime Minister would prioritise a "hard Brexit" over protecting Scottish jobs.

While the 2015 election saw voters elect just one Scottish Conservative MP, the party is now targeting several seats north of the border, having made significant progress in May's local elections.

Mrs May said: "A General Election which is defined by one question, and one question only: who can lead us through Brexit and get a deal that works for the whole United Kingdom? Who can lead our country, and strengthen our Union, in the years ahead?

"Every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in the negotiations to come.

"Every vote will help me get a better deal for the whole United Kingdom.

"And every vote from Scotland will strengthen my hand when I stand up for our United Kingdom here at home."

Scots voted by a margin of 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union last June, while the UK as a whole opted to leave - a result which led Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to call for a second vote on independence.

Mrs May said only her party "has the strength and credibility to stand up to the nationalists".

The Tory manifesto asserts that another ballot cannot take place "until the Brexit process has played out" and "unless there is public consent for it to happen".

Mrs May said: "I have been clear that now is not the time for another independence referendum.

"This is a time to pull together, not apart.

"As long as I am Prime Minister, I will never stand by and let our Union drift apart."

Pitching the Tories as a party of the "centre ground", Ms Davidson appealed for Labour voters to back her party to defeat the SNP.

With Labour forced to suspend all of its councillors on Aberdeen City Council after they formed a coalition with the Tories against party orders, she said: "This week the Scottish Labour Party - already weakened - has entered a state of civil war."

She told Labour supporters: "The truth is, your party has left you, not the other way around.

"It may well find its way back. But you know - and I know - it won't be at this election.

"We are committed to workers' rights, boosting low pay, getting a good deal for our fishermen and improving the education of our young people so cruelly let down by this Scottish Government.

"So, together, with your help, we can lead the fightback against the SNP and stop Nicola Sturgeon trying to pull our country apart."

Both Mrs May and Ms Davidson were challenged to define the notion of "public consent" for a second independence referendum.

Pressed on the issue, Ms Davidson said: "This isn't about timings, dates, parliaments, whatever, this is about the principle.

"The principle is you cannot ask people to make a decision about the constitutional future of our country when you don't know what that future looks like.

"You don't know what Brexit looks like, how it plays out, and you don't know what independence looks like because they haven't outlined that either."

SNP depute leader Angus Robertson said: "Theresa May flew into Edinburgh today to deliver one simple message to the people of Scotland - get back in your box.

"The Tories have done more to divide society, create instability and destroy opportunities for young people than any other government in living memory - now they are asking people to vote for them to fix the problems that they have created.

"The fact is, any Tory MPs elected in Scotland will put Theresa May's extreme Brexit before the jobs in Scotland they should be protecting."

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "Theresa May said that a vote for her is a vote for a better future, but the reality is that a vote for the Tories is an endorsement of a hard Brexit and the horrific rape clause."