Nicola Sturgeon? Just ignore her! Liz Truss brands the First Minister an ‘attention-seeker’

Liz Truss has branded Nicola Sturgeon an ‘attention seeker’ and said the best thing to do is ‘ignore her’ – sparking fury with the SNP who said they and the Scottish people were ‘insulted’.

Leadership hopeful Ms Truss made the comments at the Conservative hustings in Exeter last night and was swiftly backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg today who declared that Ms Sturgeon ‘waffles on endlessly’, is ‘very often wrong’, and is ‘always moaning’.

The Foreign Secretary is competing with former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

A member of the audience had asked: ‘What are you going to do to get Scotland on board? Because I’m sick to death hearing about Nicola Sturgeon trying to break up the Union.’

The chairman of the hustings, Whitehall editor of the Financial Times Sebastian Payne, added: ‘The bond of the United Kingdom has weakened over the past 12 years of the Conservative government, and if you look at Northern Ireland or Scotland, independence is very much a question again. What is your plan to reverse that?’

In response, Ms Truss, who described herself as ‘a child of the Union’ said: ‘We’re better together and I think the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is to ignore her.

‘I’m sorry, she’s an attention seeker, that’s all she is. What we need to do is show the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales what we are delivering for them and make sure our policies are delivering for them right across the United Kingdom.’

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said comments about Nicola Sturgeon by Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss are ‘deeply troubling and concerning’.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that people in Scotland, regardless of political opinion, will be ‘really concerned, and in many cases, insulted’. He added: ‘Nicola Sturgeon has far more democratic legitimacy than Liz Truss is going to have if she becomes the prime minister, and I think Liz Truss has absolutelyno right or foundation to make these remarks.’

Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss speaks during a hustings event in Exeter where she laid into the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss speaks during a hustings event in Exeter where she laid into the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

She branded the First Minister an 'attention seeker' and said the best thing to do was 'ignore her' - sparking fury with the SNP

She branded the First Minister an ‘attention seeker’ and said the best thing to do was ‘ignore her’ – sparking fury with the SNP

Former Chancellor to the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks to Tory members. He is promising income tax cuts

Former Chancellor to the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks to Tory members. He is promising income tax cuts 

Liz Truss wages ‘war on Whitehall waste’: Civil servants including teachers, nurses and police officers could have pay decided based on where they work in bid to save £11bn 

Liz Truss today launched a ‘war on Whitehall waste’ as she pledged to slash £11billion per year including ending national pay deals for NHS staff, police and teachers and scrapping hundreds of jobs aimed at increasing diversity in the civil service.

The Foreign Secretary will also save £2billion by reducing public sector workers’ holiday allowance from 27 to 25 days and calculate pay based on where they live in the UK.

But a statement from her team revealed that up to £8.8billion of the savings would come from pay cuts for public sector workers living outside the south-east of England.

Her aides said this was the potential savings if the system were to be adopted for ‘all’ public sector workers, suggesting that teachers, nurses and police officers’ salaries were in the firing line.

Truss’s team hit back saying the changes, implemented by regional pay boards, will ensure pay accurately reflects where civil servants work and prevent local businesses being priced out of the labour market.

Liz Truss said: ‘As Prime Minister I will run a leaner, more efficient, more focused Whitehall that prioritises the things that really matter to people and is laser-focused on frontline services. There is too much bureaucracy and stale groupthink in Whitehall.’

Ms Truss, who grew up in Paisley, added: ‘Nicola Sturgeon can carry on talking about an independence referendum – we had the referendum in 2014 it was agreed it was once in a generation – so we’ve got to call her out on that but, at the same time, really delivering for Scotland. So some of the policies I’m talking about – the investment zones, the free ports – we need to make sure they’re delivered in Scotland too.’

Responding to her comments, SNP councillor Stefan Hoggan-Radu posted a message on social media saying: ‘How disrespectful and ignorant! Like her or not she is the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland with a larger mandate than any Tory Prime Minister!’

SNP minister Christina McKelvie said: ‘You watching Scotland … utterly disgraceful contempt for our democratically elected First Minister.’ 

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said Liz Truss has shown ‘total disrespect’ to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and ‘a contempt for everyone that voted for a pro-independence majority of MSPs in last year’s election’.

‘She knows that the democratic case for a referendum is unanswerable, so she would rather patronise us and ignore us,’ she said.

‘Neither Truss nor (Rishi) Sunak would offer the fresh start that we need. They have both backed every single disastrous policy that (Boris) Johnson has implemented.

‘They supported his failed Brexit deal and the Universal Credit cuts that plunged thousands of people into poverty.

‘They are both happy to let the oil and gas companies rake in record profits while millions of people are suffering.’

The row came as Penny Mordaunt last night threw her support behind Liz Truss in a major coup for the frontrunner’s leadership campaign.

The trade minister dramatically declared she was backing her former rival at the start of a hustings event for party members.

She had not been expected to endorse either finalist after coming third in the contest.

But taking to the stage in Exeter last night, she said the choice of the next Conservative Party leader was ‘too important’ to be left to chance.

She said she had decided to back Ms Truss, paying tribute to her ‘graft, her authenticity, her determination, her ambition for this country, her consistency and sense of duty’.

‘She knows what she believes in, and her resolve to stand up against tyranny and fight for freedom – that’s what our country stands for.

‘And that’s why I know with her we can win,’ Ms Mordaunt said. ‘She for me is the ‘hope’ candidate.’

Meanwhile Ms Truss secured more support from Holyrood than Rishi Sunak with nine MSPs writing a joint article stating that the Foreign Secretary will stand up for the Union and can trusted to deliver for Scotland.

It means she has now received more public declarations of support than the former Chancellor, who had initially secured the backing of a series of high-profile MSPs but has failed to add any in the last week.

The unexpected backing from Ms Mordaunt came just hours after another former leadership candidate, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, lent his support to Ms Truss.

Mr Zahawi praised her ‘booster’ approach to the economy in contrast to that of her ‘doomster’ rival Rishi Sunak.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks during the second Conservative party membership hustings with Sebastian Payne

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks during the second Conservative party membership hustings with Sebastian Payne

Ms Truss also vowed to cut costs in the civil service including plans to cut pay for those outside the south-east

Ms Truss also vowed to cut costs in the civil service including plans to cut pay for those outside the south-east

Minister of State for Trade Policy Penny Mordaunt (L) greets Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ahead of the second Conservative party membership hustings

Minister of State for Trade Policy Penny Mordaunt (L) greets Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ahead of the second Conservative party membership hustings

Now Nadhim Zahawi comes out for Truss 

Liz Truss’s campaign gathered more momentum yesterday as she secured the backing of another Cabinet Minister as well as a major group of Scottish Tories.

The leadership frontrunner’s ‘booster’ approach to the economy was contrasted with that of ‘doomster’ Rishi Sunak by new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.

‘Liz will overturn stale economic orthodoxy and run our economy in a Conservative way,’ he wrote in the Telegraph, as he became the tenth member of the current Cabinet to lend her his support, compared with eight for her rival.

Mr Zahawi – who previously claimed he would not endorse a candidate when he dropped out of the contest – added: ‘Liz’s plans for a low-tax economy that puts growth first are what we need.’

 

‘Liz will overturn stale economic orthodoxy and run our economy in a Conservative way,’ Mr Zahawi wrote in The Daily Telegraph, as he became the tenth member of the current Cabinet to back her, compared with eight for her rival.

Answering questions about her personal life, Ms Truss said she ‘shared the values’ of the Church of England but was not a regular worshipper.

Asked where the money was going to come from for her tax cuts and infrastructure investment, she replied: ‘Thriving enterprises, thriving businesses and economic growth’. She added: ‘If we tax people and businesses too much, and we’ve currently got the highest tax rates for 70 years in our country, we will throttle that growth.’

But she suggested she would offer her rival a role in Government if she became prime minister, saying: ‘Of course I would have Rishi Sunak as part of my team, he’s a fantastic guy and we need all of our best talent on the pitch.’

Mr Sunak sought to revitalise his campaign by portraying himself as the ‘change candidate’ at the hustings. And he again highlighted the fact he backed Britain leaving the EU while his rival supported Remain.

‘I supported change. I supported Brexit, I believed in my principles then, and I believe in my principles now,’ he said.

The nine MSPs who wrote the joint article for The Times supporting Ms Truss included frontbenchers Murdo Fraser, Stephen Kerr, Liam Kerr, Oliver Mundell and Rachael Hamilton, as well as Finlay Carson, Sharon Dowey, Douglas Lumsden and Graham Simpson.

It said: ‘Having spent her early years living in Scotland, Liz is a child of the Union. She knows from personal experience that we are stronger when we work together across the United Kingdom.

‘We have achieved so much over the past 300 years working together and we can achieve so much more in the future. This is why Liz is so positive about Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom.’

A spokesman for Mr Sunak’s campaign said: ‘Polls continue to show that Rishi is the best candidate to beat Labour and stop the SNP from getting into power via the backdoor.’

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