Rishi Sunak has claimed the SNP would “take Scotland back literally three hundred years” if it could, as he urged voters to reject the Nationalists at the ballot box.

Addressing around 350 delegates at the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen, the Prime Minister also paraphrased Flower of Scotland to urge people to oust SNP MPs.

“Let’s stand up for our country, our United Kingdom. Let’s give it the brighter future it deserves and let's send the Nationalists home to think again,” he said.

Earlier, on a visit to Montrose, Mr Sunak confirmed “there will be an election this year”, ruling out the theoretical last-ditch option of January next year.

Claiming the SNP’s “obsession with independence" was holding Scotland back, he said: “As with Nicola Sturgeon, as long as Humza Yousaf is in Bute House, separatism will be put above the interests of all Scots.

“To get Scotland moving again we finally need to move the SNP on.

“And that will be the choice here in Scotland when the election comes. Remain stuck in a constitutional time warp with the SNP, while schools, hospitals, the economy are neglected.”

Referring to the SNP’s goal of dissolving the 1707 Act of Union and returning Scotland to independence, Mr Sunak said: “The choice before the country is a clear one: Stick to our plan that’s starting to deliver the change that people want to see, or go back to square one with Labour.

"But here in Scotland, the choice is even more stark.

“If Labour would take the UK back to square one, the SNP would take Scotland back literally three hundred years.

"I know the SNP haven’t had their troubles to seek over the past year. But nobody should be in any doubt about the continuing threat they pose to Scotland and the rest of our United Kingdom.”

With the conference stressing the importance of the oil and gas sector to the North East, Mr Sunak also attacked the SNP and Labour over their energy policy.

He said: "It is only the Scottish Conservatives who are defending our energy security and the thousands of jobs here in the North East that depend on the oil and gas sector. 

“A vote for anyone else is a vote to shut down this industry. And what the Nationalists, in hock to their Green allies, can’t see is that if you destroy the industry that we have here now you will stop Aberdeen being home to the industries of the future. 

“As for Labour, well it says so much about them that they don’t want to ban all oil and gas, they just want to ban British oil and gas with their ban on North Sea exploration. 

“It shows so clearly that their values aren’t our country’s values and that they put virtue signalling ahead of our nation's energy security.  

“It just shows that for all their splits on other issues [Keir] Starmer and [Scottish leader Anas] Sarwar are completely united in wanting to shut this industry down.”

The SNP called the 11-minute speech a “blink and you’d miss it” moment.

Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn MP said: "The Tories have trashed the UK economy, slashed Scotland's budget and sent the cost of living soaring. 

“Rishi Sunak should have used his flying visit to apologise to families across Scotland who are skint and scunnered as a result of his government's appalling record of failure.

"With a general election in sight, voting SNP is the way to make Scotland Tory-free at this election - and the way to get rid of unelected Tory governments for good with independence.” 

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie added “This is staggering complacency from a Tory party responsible for years of chaos, scandal and economic carnage.

“Rishi Sunak might be too out-of-touch to notice, but voters in Scotland and across the UK are getting ready to boot out this morally bankrupt, economically illiterate Tory government.

“The next General Election is our chance to put an end to years of division and decline under the SNP and the Tories.

“Change is possible – Labour is working around the clock to earn voters’ trust and show that we can deliver the change our country so desperately needs.”