Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss unite on ruling out second Scottish referendum

Both candidates in running to become next British prime minister said they were against a new independence vote

UK Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. PA
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Both Conservative leadership candidates ruled out the possibility of a second Scotland referendum at the latest hustings event, in Perth on Tuesday.

Rishi Sunak said he could not “imagine the circumstances” in which he would allow a second Scottish independence referendum if he became prime minister.

“We live in a union which is, of course, there by consent and by democracy and I accept that," Mr Sunak said.

"But I just don’t think that anybody thinks that now or any time in the near future is remotely the time to focus on this.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would “not allow” another referendum on Scottish independence because the 2014 vote was “once in a generation”.

“If I am elected as prime minister, I will not allow another independence referendum,” Ms Truss said.

Her assertion was met with applause from the crowd at Perth Concert Hall.

“At the time of the 2014 referendum, it was agreed by the SNP [Scottish National Party] that it was a once-in-a-generation referendum,” Ms Truss said.

“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 dealing with the very real issues in Scotland.”

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Rising energy bills were also discussed at the event, with Mr Sunak ruling out Labour’s plan to freeze the price cap if he was made prime minister.

Ms Truss has refused to say what support she would offer people to limit the effects of energy bill rises, other than pausing the green energy levy on bills.

The two candidates vying to be the next prime minister faced scrutiny of their plans to help households with rising bills after Sir Keir Starmer tried to seize the initiative.

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On Monday the Labour leader unveiled a “fully costed” £29 billion ($35bn) plan to freeze the cap at the current level of £1,971 for six months from October, saving the average household £1,000.

Mr Sunak ruled out adopting this plan, saying: “I don’t think that is the right approach.”

Asked what he would do to help businesses with energy costs, he said things he had done as chancellor, including a cut in business rates, were already “making a difference”.

Mr Sunak also stressed the importance of prioritising rising energy costs over other political issues when asked whether he would allow a second Scottish independence referendum.

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Ms Truss said she did not want to pre-empt a budget given by a chancellor she would appoint.

“What I’m not going to do here is write the next chancellor’s budget when we are still in the middle of this leadership election,” she said.

Ms Truss said she would look to boost the economy and shore up energy supplies.

On Monday, Sir Keir accused both Tory leadership candidates of lacking ideas as he unveiled Labour’s solution to the crisis.

The plan would be paid for in part by an extension of the windfall levy on the profits of oil and gas companies.

Updated: August 16, 2022, 10:50 PM