NICOLA Sturgeon has branded Boris Johnson a “complete and utter charlatan” whose election as Theresa May’s successor would horrify many people across Scotland and boost the cause of Scottish independence.

And as the Prime Minister prepares to leave Downing St this summer, the First Minister expressed sympathy for a fellow leader over the Brexit ordeal she had endured.

Ms Sturgeon hit out at the former Foreign Secretary after he made clear he would be putting his hat in the ring to succeed Mrs May, who will set out a timetable for her departure win or lose the June vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

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The FM, asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, about the prospect of a Johnson premiership, said: “It would lead to many more people thinking the best future for Scotland would be independent so that we can protect our interests, that we can take our own decisions, that we can co-operate with other independent countries across the EU for our mutual interest; in other words, be a normal, progressive independent country.”

She went on: “Boris Johnson[is] the guy who mislead people in the Brexit vote, the guy who has only ever put his own interests first as far as I can see; a complete and utter charlatan in my opinion. The prospect of him becoming Prime Minister of the UK is one that will horrify many people across Scotland; even the Scottish Tories here are terrified at the prospect because they know what it would do to their standing.”

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Asked if she felt sorry for Mrs May, Ms Sturgeon replied: “I, as a leader, as somebody who is First Minister, understand the pressures of leadership. I understand how tough and challenging and lonely that position is. So, on a personal level, yes I can feel a degree of sympathy about the difficult set of circumstances she has had to deal with.

“That said, I don’t think she has played the hand she was given particularly well. She has taken a lot of decisions no one made her take, that have made the situation a lot worse.”