THE former Scottish Secretary David Mundell has thrown his weight behind Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race, saying she “will not hesitate” to face down the SNP.

Suggesting her rival Rishi Sunak would be too weak to enter Downing Street, the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP said Ms Truss would be “steely” in dealing with Nicola Sturgeon.

“We need a leader who has the courage of their convictions as a Unionist,” he said.

Mr Mundell’s son, the MSP Oliver Mundell, backed Ms Truss earlier this week.

Ms Truss caused controversy this week by saying the First Minister was an "attention-seeker" who was best ignored, comments condemned as "obnoxious" by the deputy FM John Swinney.

Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, Mr Mundell senior said: “As Secretary of State for Scotland for more than four years, I have seen up close the importance Prime Ministers place on delivering for people in every region and nation. I know the strains our precious Union has come under due to those vying to see it broken up.

“Almost a decade ago, Scots voted decisively to stay part of our Union. 

“Yet the Nationalists are still desperate to refight that referendum in a shameless excuse to get away from their record of delivery.

“We need a leader who has the courage of their convictions as a Unionist.

“They need to be steely in order to work with Nicola Sturgeon, rising above her petty nationalist games and grievances. They need to be dedicated to delivering for every part of our United Kingdom, no matter the challenge.

“That is why I am backing Liz Truss. I know how deeply and personally - from her own life experience as a ‘child of the Union’, growing up in Paisley and Leeds - she feels that unique connection we have across our United Kingdom.”

Referring to Ms Truss’s uncosted plans for £30bn of rapid tax cuts, he went on: “She has a clear plan  to level up the UK in a Conservative way through low-tax, low-regulation zones to incentivise the investment that drives growth in our communities.

“She knows that power is best exercised as close to the people it affects as possible. She is committed to working closely with the devolved administrations to deliver on the priorities of every person in the UK.

“But she will not hesitate to hold the SNP to account and face down its threats.

“Throughout this campaign Liz has made it absolutely clear that now is not the time for a second referendum on Scottish independence and that is the view shared by people right across Scotland , evern by many with nationalist sympathies.

“They want both their governments to move on from the constitutional wrangling and focus on the issues that really matter to them.

“She believes that together we can show our strength and stand tall as one proud United kingdom.”

Former Chancellor and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, whose resignation helped trigger Boris Johnson’s downfall last month, has also endorsed Ms Truss.

He warned Mr Sunak’s plans would lead to the UK “sleepwalking into a big-state, high-tax, low-growth, social democratic style model”. 

He told LBC this morning: “Like all Conservative party members, I have to make a choice. My choice is Truss. 

“The reason I’ve made that decision is for three reasons: I think she’s best placed to unite the party and she’s already showing that with the broad support that she’s getting from MPs.

“I think she’s got a better plan for fixing the economy. I think that is going to be absolutely crucial.

“And thirdly, I think that she’s best placed to beat the labour Lib Dems and the SNP at the next election.”