Liz Truss has claimed it is best to ignore “attention seeker” Nicola Sturgeon.
The Conservative Party leadership candidate criticized Scotland’s first minister before ruling out a second independence referendum.
Truss, speaking at a hustings event in Exeter, referred to growing up in Paisley before saying: “I feel like I’m a child of the union, I really think we’re a family and we’re better off together and I think that the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is to ignore her.”
Tory members cheered and applauded the comment, while the Foreign Secretary added: “She’s an attention seeker, that’s what she is.
“What we need to do is show the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales what we deliver for them and make sure that all our government policies apply across the UK.”
She replied “no, no, no” when asked about another referendum on independence in Scotland if she becomes prime minister.
Speaking to BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Deputy Minister John Swinney branded the comments “completely and utterly unacceptable”.
He said: “People in Scotland, regardless of their politics, will be absolutely appalled by the disgusting statements that Liz Truss has made tonight.
“The union activists are suggesting that Scotland should be at the heart of Britain and how Scotland can be expected to be at the heart of Britain when the democratically elected leader of our country is, after the person most likely to be the next Prime Minister of the UK, someone who should be completely ignored and completely unacceptable.
“I think Liz Truss has fundamentally undermined the argument she’s trying to make with a foolish, thoughtful intervention: that Scotland can somehow be treated fairly and well in the heart of Britain.”
SNP MP Chris Law, who posted on Twitter with a link to Truss’s comments, said: “The only reason Scotland needs independence. Complete contempt from the future Prime Minister.”
Elsewhere during the hustings, Mrs Truss refused to give details of the most embarrassing thing she has done in her life.
She said, “Honestly? My daughters are going to watch this and I’m absolutely not going to say it.”
When asked if she is a person of faith and regularly practices religion, Truss said: “I share the values of the Christian faith and the Church of England, but I am not a regularly practicing religious person.”
Tory leadership rival Rishi Sunak, on the same question, said: “I’m a practicing Hindu and that’s how we’ve brought up our children.
“Just a few weeks ago I was back at my temple in Southampton where I grew up, every year we have a family prayer day where we cook lunch and serve it to the community and that was a very special part of how I was brought up and a special part of how I live my life today.”
Mr Sunak, on what he would be doing if not a politician, said: “If I could run Southampton Football Club I would be a very happy man.”