Analysis: Why Scottish Tories are worried after Liz Truss labels Nicola Sturgeon 'attention-seeker'

Liz Truss has called Nicola Sturgeon an “attention-seeker” in comments that will concern Scottish Tories.

The foreign secretary labelled the First Minister an “attention-seeker” who should be ignored, in an attack so damaging to the Scottish Tories you’d think the SNP wrote it for her.

Asked about Ms Sturgeon and her push for another independence referendum in October 2023, Ms Truss outright rejected another poll under any circumstances.

She said of Ms Sturgeon: “She’s an attention-seeker, that’s what she is.

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

“What we need to do is show the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales what we’re delivering for them and making sure that all of our Government policies apply right across the United Kingdom.”

Regardless of what you think of the SNP and independence, saying you'd ignore the First Minister is unhelpful to Tory MPs hoping for a fresh start with a new prime minister.

In making throw-away remarks to win over a small group of members, Ms Truss has made comments that will be in SNP leaflets and speeches for years to come if she becomes the UK’s new leader.

Speaking to Scottish Tories after, the mood was one of shock, with more than one suggesting she needed new advisers on the Union immediately.

Liz Truss made the comments at a hustings on Monday evening.

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Nicola Sturgeon is an ‘attention seeker’ best ignored, claims Liz Truss

Others were more optimistic, telling me the First Minister has said far worse, but admitting Ms Truss had chosen to speak to the room rather than the country.

Rishi Sunak’s campaign also jumped on her remarks, stressing it was about “beating” the SNP, not just ignoring them.

For so much of this race, Ms Truss has done well by trying to win Tory members rather than appearing prime ministerial, but on Monday night she went too far the other way.

Mr Johnson was many things, but in avoiding visits to Scotland and making too many attacks on the First Minister, the Prime Minister knew his presence was damaging to his colleagues north of the border.

This is not some one-off gaffe to be forgotten, it is an attack that will be thrown at Tory campaigners at the next election, potentially making a difficult job even harder.

The comments are unlikely to garner a single new vote for the party, just a cheer in the room when the Union is at stake.

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