THERESA May has been accused of "insulting" half the Scottish electorate after she made a jibe against independence supporters and "extremists" in the same sentence.

May vowed to “take action” against “separatists that want to break up our country”, as she made her first election campaign visit to Scotland.

The Prime Minister also told Tory supporters that she wants to build a “more secure and united nation”.

Speaking at a rally in Crathes, Aberdeenshire, she said: “That means taking action against extremists that divide us and separatists that want to break up our country. There is only one party that is committed to the union and we have one candidate for Prime Minister who will stand up and defend the UK.”

However, SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson attacked May's intervention as an "ill-judged move" which risks offending a huge proportion of the Scottish electorate.

Robertson also hit out at May's refusal to guarantee the triple lock on pensions would continue.

May has repeatedly refused to make such a pledge to ensures pensions increase in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5 per cent - whichever is highest.

Roberston, the MP for Moray, said: “This is a Prime Minister who is ducking and dodging scrutiny every step of the way.

"She also has a funny way of trying to win votes in Scotland.

"By referring to extremists and so-called separatists in the same breath, she risks insulting almost half of the Scottish electorate.

"Language is important and the Prime Minister needs to clean up her act."

Robertson, who is also the SNP's Westminster leader, said the May was "running scared" by refusing to participate in TV leadership debates.

He added: “She has so little confidence in her arguments that she is running scared of TV debates, while also avoiding contact with ordinary voters as far as possible.

“And now her carefully stage-managed flying visit to Scotland has failed to shed any light on some of the key questions she is running away from.

“That includes the issue of pensions – and specifically whether the PM will commit to retaining the Triple Lock on pensions.

“That guarantee would make sure pensions rise in line with inflation and living costs, ensuring a fair income for our older people.

“This is an arrogant Tory election campaign which seems to be secretly terrified that the more people see of Theresa May, the less likely they are to vote for her – but Mrs May should stop ducking and start explaining."

Meanwhile, May again used her speech to rule out a second independence referendum before Brexit saying “how would Scottish people be able to decide when they don’t know what the future held for them”.

Describing the election as the "most important" one in her lifetime, she said: "My message to the people of Scotland is clear - every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in the Brexit negotiations.

"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.

"That's really important because as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I want to see every part of our country succeed."

She urged voters to back five years of "strong and stable" Tory leadership and said: "My commitment is clear, that if you strengthen my hand in those Brexit negotiations, I will work to ensure that Scotland and the UK flourish together."

May also reiterated her warning against a "coalition of chaos led by Jeremy Corbyn".

"That's what's on offer of course, because the other parties, they're lining up to prop up Jeremy Corbyn," she said.

"We see it from the Liberal Democrats and we see it from Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish National Party.

"They want to disrupt our Brexit negotiations, undermine the task ahead, stop us from taking Britain forward.

"Every SNP MP who is elected to Westminster puts a step closer Jeremy Corbyn getting into Downing Street."

However, Jeremy Corbyn accused May of slipping into a "Presidential bunker mentality" because she is an insecure leader who wants to feel stronger.

In his most personal speech of the campaign so far, Corbyn drew attention to his activism against the South African apartheid regime and in support of Nelson Mandela in the 1980s when the Tory government was refusing to impose sanctions on the regime.

Addressing an audience of supporters in east London, Corbyn, said: "If party leaders put themselves ahead of serving the people, they stop listening and even put our country at risk.

"Barely nine months into Theresa May's premiership, there are clear warning signs that she and her closest advisers are slipping into that Presidential bunker mentality."