LIZ Truss has claimed the Scottish Government are using their "entire resources" on the independence campaign.

The Tory leadership frontrunner made the claim as she was asked at a party husting in Cardiff on Wednesday if she would ignore the Welsh First Minister after she said she would do so to Nicola Sturgeon.

During her speech in Cardiff, the Foreign Secretary had attacked Mark Drakeford as a "low energy version of Jeremy Corbyn" and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as a "plastic patriot".

But pressed on whether she would ignore Mr Drakeford, she told the audience that the situation in Scotland and Wales differed.

"What's happening in Scotland is the entire resources of the Scottish Government are being used to run essentially an independence campaign, and I think that is grossly irresponsible.

"The Scottish Government are not delivering for the people of Scotland. They are simply spending their time and Nicola Sturgeon is spending her time agitating for independence," she said, launching a renewed attack on the First Minister.

She added: "And the point I was making is the UK Government should be doing what we're doing which is delivering for the people of Scotland, whether that's driving jobs and investment in Scotland, whether it's delivering a strong foreign policy and defence policy that protects the entire United Kingdom."

In May the Scottish Government revealed it had allocated £20 million to holding an independence referendum next year.

Ms Sturgeon later defended the sum saying it represented a tiny fraction of the Scottish Government's budget after she came in for criticism over the spending.

She said that the referendum will give “the people of Scotland an opportunity to choose a better future at this particular moment in time”.

She added: “UK Government decisions have cut our budget this year by more than five per cent in real terms, they will constrain growth in our budget over the next four years to 2% while inflation is close to 10%. Inflation in the UK, of course, which thanks to the folly of Brexit, is the highest of any G7 country.

“Every year right now, the Scottish Government is having to invest more than £700m mitigating the impact of Westminster policies that Scotland did not vote for.

“I think that £20m, 0.05 per cent, one half of one tenth of one per cent, of the entire Scottish Government budget, to give the people of this country the opportunity to choose a better future, is and will be a really good investment.”

Responding to the comments by Ms Truss, SNP MP Anum Qaisar said: "Nicola Sturgeon said that she set aide £20m (0.05% of the Scottish budget).

"There’s no “fresh start” after Boris - they’re a bunch of crooks and liars."

SNP MSP James Dornan said: "Is Liz Truss mentally and instinctively incapable of telling the truth when is comes to talking about Scotland? What a state the UK is in when it looks like she will be the next PM.

"Not much change from the incumbent deceiver then."

At the start of the hustings former leader of the Tories Lord Michael Howard spoke about his reasons for endorsing Rishi Sunak for leader ahead of Mr Sunak's appearance on stage.

Lord Howard compared Mr Sunak to former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He told the crowd in Cardiff: "I knew Margaret Thatcher. I had the privilege of serving in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet. I want to tell you one or two things this evening about Margaret Thatcher.

"She hated inflation. So does Rishi Sunak. She hated the thought of increased borrowing, so does Rishi Sunak. She would never have countenanced unfunded, irresponsible tax cuts. Nor will Rishi Sunak.

"Margaret Thatcher always told the truth. She didn't tell people what she thought they wanted to hear. She tells them the truth. And so does Rishi Sunak."

He added: "We have the opportunity of electing a Prime Minister who can provide the leadership we need not only in this country, but across the wider western world."

"The people of Wales, especially Welsh Conservatives, are wise. We have good sense, we have good judgment, and that is why I am confident that we will choose to lead us, to inspire us, to take us to a great and glorious future. Our next prime minister, Rishi Sunak."

Earlier yesterday Ms Truss's team backtracked on her comments about ignoring Ms Sturgeon to make clear she would be prepared to work with her on some issues.

It was the second time this week the Foreign Secretary has been forced into a campaign U turn.

She abandoned a pledge to cut government spending by up to £8.8 billion less than 24 hours after unveiling the policy after it emerged that it would lead to pay cuts for more than five million teachers, nurses and other public sector workers.

When asked about Ms Sturgeon's push for a referendum during Monday night's hustings in Exeter, Ms Truss said: "I really believe we are a family and we're better together, and I think the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is ignore her."

She added: 'I'm sorry, she is an attention seeker, that's what she is. And what we need to do is show the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales what we are delivering for them, and making sure that all of our government policies apply right across the United Kingdom.'

Asked to clarify if the comments were specifically about ignoring any push for an independence referendum or a more general comment about not being willing to work with Ms Sturgeon, a source in her campaign team told yesterday's Daily Mail: "Liz is keen to work with the devolved administrations to deliver on the priorities of the UK.

"However, she has made it clear to the Scottish people that there will be no second referendum - instead, Whitehall and Holyrood will continue to focus on putting more money in their pockets and delivering on their priorities."