BORIS Johnson has made “completely unacceptable” comments about Muslim woman and gay men, his Scottish leader has admitted.

Jackson Carlaw criticised the Prime Minister’s controversial record on the STV leaders debate after being challenged by Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie.

The same debate saw Nicola Sturgeon refuse four times to apologise for declines in health and education under the SNP after being told she should be “ashamed”.

Mr Johnson was widely criticised last year after he referred to Muslim women wearing the burka as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” in a newspaper article.

READ MORE: STV Leaders' Debate as it happened: Parties quizzed on independence and Brexit 

Mr Johnson downplays many of his past comments as being taken out of context.

However, Mr Carlaw said he had told the Prime Minister to his face they were wrong.

In a cross-examination section of the debate, Mr Rennie questioned Mr Carlaw about the Prime Minister’s character and asked if he was happy to be in the same team as a leader backed by Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson.

Mr Carlaw said: “I am happy to support the Prime Minister, who has been straight in his dealings with me.

“When he became Prime Minister, I sat down with him in Downing Street and I said to him that he had said things before that I could not support and thought were unacceptable, but I would judge him by what he did as Prime Minister, not what he said before he became Prime Minister.”

The Scottish LibDem leader said: “You’ve referred to some of the remarks he’s made in the past, and you seem to be prepared to pass them by. But he compared Muslim women to letterboxes. He said that gay men were tank-topped bumboys.”

Mr Carlaw interjected: “Completely unacceptable.”

Mr Rennie said it was “indefensible” for anyone to support Mr Johnson as Prime Minister, adding: “He’s just a nasty piece of work, isn’t he?”

Mr Carlaw replied: “I don’t agree with that, no. I think that some of the things he said as a journalist were unacceptable. But there are things politicians in all parties have said which I find unacceptable.”

After Mr Rennie repeated his point, Mr Carlaw told him cuttingly: “There’s no point being theatrical about it, Willie. I believe a Prime Minister should be judged on the job he is doing as Prime Minister.”

Undeterred, Mr Rennie said: “Are you not embarrassed to have him as your leader when he’s said these things and he’s backed by these terrible people?”

Mr Carlaw said: “I’m impressed by the commitments he has made as Prime Minister. He has delivered on a new fresh deal for Europe. He’s put the Union at the centre of the argument.”

When Mr Carlaw came to cross-examine Ms Sturgeon, he raised problems in schools and hospitals but said Ms Sturgeon’s priority next week would be trying to secure Indyref2.

He said: “You priority isn’t the Sick Kids [hopsital in Edinburgh]. It isn’t the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital [in Glasgow], it isn’t standards in schools. "These are all failures over the five years you have been First Minister.

[Your priority] is to take the country back to more division.

“What is your priority next week? Independence or these issues?”

Ms Sturgeon said: “My priorities are the ones that you’ve asked me about. I want Scotland to have the chance to choose its own future as well as the Sick Kids hospital and education."

Referring to the latest international Pisa study on education in OECD countries, she went on: “I was very pleased to see that after the focus being put on literacy, the reading performance in the Pisa survey had shown such an improvement, and we will continue to focus on science and maths.”

Mr Carlaw said: “You’re very quick to ask everybody else to apologise and be ashamed. Shouldn’t you? Are you ashamed? Are you ashamed? Are you ashamed? Will you apologise?”

READ MORE: Online poll: Who do you think won the STV Leaders' Debate? 

Ms Sturgeon's argued back but did not apologise.

Mr Rennie said the Pisa survey was “embarrassing” and accused Ms Sturgeon of letting down Scotland’s children.

He said: “Are you ashamed of letting down so many young people?”

Ms Sturgeon said: “That’s not the reality”, adding performance in reading was up, and said performance in maths and science as “stable” and in line with OECD averages.

“We will focus now on making improvements there,” she said.

Mr Rennie said: “If you are telling me that a line on a chart going downwards is optimistic and successful, then I think the problem with numeracy in your government goes right to the top. Look at the figures - science and maths going down, you cannot say that’s static.”

Ms Sturgeon said the OECD had called it “stable”, and said she would get on improving education.

Mr Rennie said independence would lead to education and other public services becoming a lower priority for the government, telling the First Minister: “You are blind to reality, Nicola.”

Ms Sturgeon stressed there had been improvements in reading, and blamed the LibDems for supporting Torty austerity cuts in the Coalition of 2010-15.

Ms Sturgeon pressed Mr Carlaw on a predicted rise in child poverty to record levels if the Tory manifesto was put into effect.

Labour leader Richard Leonard was quizzed on his support for a Labour manifesto pledge to renew Trident despite his membership of CND, and Jeremy Corbyn’s record on Brexit and anti-Semitism.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said:  “The STV debate made it clear beyond doubt that only the SNP can beat the Tories in Scotland - and deprive Boris Johnson of the majority he so desperately craves.

"The Scottish Tories have completely sold out to Boris Johnson and admitted they will rubber-stamp every decision he takes and stand by ever offensive comment he makes - while Labour and the Lib Dems have shown they are too weak to stand up for themselves, let alone Scotland.”

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: ““Two things were clear from tonight’s debate. Only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength and resolve to stand up to Nicola Sturgeon’s second independence referendum. Jackson Carlaw was resolute – stopping that referendum is what this election is about and that is what a vote for us will deliver.”

“And secondly, Richard Leonard’s weak performance showed Labour simply cannot be trusted to stand up to Nicola Sturgeon and her demand for a second referendum.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater said: "You'd never know that this debate was about a UK election. So many of the topics covered are already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, like health, education and policing.

“That is why it is inexcusable that broadcasters left out the most influential opposition party in that place, the Scottish Greens. It is our constructive challenge that has achieved the biggest impact, reforming our tax system, stopping the decline in council funding and introducing equal protection for Scotland's children.

“And the lip service paid by all the parties to the most pressing issue facing us - the climate emergency - was embarrassing.”