LIZ Truss has said she would “never ever” let the Union end if she becomes Prime Minister, accusing Nicola Sturgeon of breaking her promise to respect the No vote of 2014

“If I am elected as Prime Minister, I will not allow another independence referendum,” the Foreign Secretary told the sole Scottish hustings in the Tory leadership race. 

Addressing around 700 party members at Perth Concert Hall, she said: “At the time of the 2014 referendum, it was agreed by the SNP that it was a once-in-a-generation referendum.

“I believe in politicians keeping their promises, and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise.

“What she should do, rather than agitating for another referendum, is deal with the very real issues in Scotland.”

She added: “I consider myself to be a child of the Union. To me, we're not just neighbours, we're family, and I will never ever let our family be split up.”

Around 300 vocal protestors gathered outside the venue ahead of the event, many waving Yes banners, and some shouting “Tory scum” and throwing eggs.  

At one point police pushed back an attempt to get through the metal barriers.

Ms Truss was cheered repeatedly for attacking the SNP’s record and promising more visible action by the UK Government north of the border.

Her rival Rishi Sunak accused the Scottish Government of imposing “austerity” on swathes of public services in order to direct funds into welfare spending.

The former Chancellor said that if he was Prime Minister he would bypass Holyrood more in order to spend money in the way the UK Government wanted. 

He said Ms Sturgeon saw devolution simply in terms of getting more power for herself.

Both candidates refused to adopt Labour’s plan to freeze the energy price cap in order to help families facing mountainous bills through the winter.

Ms Truss, who was today backed by 11 Tory whips, now has the backing of more than half of all the party’s MPs and is the clear frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson in No10.

She said she would appoint Mr Sunak to her cabinet if she won on September 5.

She said: “We are all Conservatives, we all want to beat Nicola Sturgeon, we all want to beat Keir Starmer and we all want to make sure Conservatives win here in Scotland as well as right across the United Kingdom.

“I would want to appoint a cabinet of all the best talent from right across the Conservative Party including Rishi Sunak if I am successful in this leadership election.”

She also praised Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who she met earlier in the day at a whisky distillery in his Moray seat.  

Reminded Mr Ross said Mr Johnson was unfit for office over Partygate, she said: “I don’t agree that Boris Johnson misled Parliament. Boris did a great job as Prime Minister.”

Ms Truss also said she expected progress over the Northern Ireland Protocol and resumption of the Sinn Fein-DUP power-sharing executive in Stormont.

She said: “I have been in talks with the DUP and they are supporting the Northern Ireland protocol Bill and I expect to see things happening and the executive reporting

Mr Sunak said he wanted more scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s record and how it was spending its budgets, rather than presenting its figures opaquely.

He said recent spending reviews by him and SNP finance secretary Kate Forbes had exposed vivid differences. 

He said: “I did a spending review for the UK that would send £4.5billion a year under the Barnett formula to the Scottish Government and then [SNP finance secretary] Kate Forbes finally stood up and did her spending review. 

“In contrast to what we were doing elsewhere, public spending on the NHS in Scotland is growing at a far slower rate than what it is in England.

“Then look at the rest of the public sector - agriculture, education, justice, local government. 

“She’s imposed austerity on all those parts of our public services. 

“I even put an income tax cut in and gave the Scottish Government money to pass that on. They chose not to do that. 

“So you might scratch your head and say, Hang on, where's all the money going?  

“We found out where it's going. You know where it's going? The welfare budget in Scotland is increasing by 50% over the next five years. That is wrong."

Asked if he would rule out Indyref2, Mr Sunak was less emphatic than Ms Truss, saying he could not imagine circumstances in which a vote would take place.

He said it was “frankly barmy” to be talking about a referendum at the current time.

Pressed again if he would allow another referendum, he went on: “I can't imagine the circumstances in which I would do so. We live in a union which is of course there by consent and by democracy and I accept that, but I just don't think that anybody thinks that now or anytime in the near future is remotely the time to focus on this. 

“I'm focused on defending the Union. I'm focused on demonstrating the benefit of the Union to people in Scotland. I'm focused on holding the SNP to account for the failures they have.”

One female audience member urged Mr Sunak to drop the “inhuman and inhumane” policy to send “wretched” migrants to Rwanda and work with France to tackle illegal Channel crossings instead. 

Mr Sunak told the woman, who was booed by some of her fellow Tories, that he would not.

SNP depute Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: “This was depressing watching for Scots - almost two hours of two out-of-touch Tory ministers trying to out-Thatcher one another, denying Scots their democracy, and trashing the record of the same Tory government they’ve been a key part of.

“The pair repeatedly attempted to tell us tonight what Scotland wants. Scotland has made it clear what it does and doesn’t want by repeatedly rejecting the Tories at the polls and repeatedly voting for independence supporting parties. 

Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain said: "I had to switch off after fifteen minutes. Over the course of this campaign neither candidate has made any effort to talk about Scotland and devolution beyond superficial platitudes that only play to their narrow Tory party member electorate.”