Former Union Unit head defends Liz Truss comments and labels Nicola Sturgeon ‘attention deflector’

The former head of the Union Unit has defended Liz Truss after she accused the First Minister of being an “attention seeker”.

Luke Graham claimed politicians should be allowed to critique each other and accused the SNP of saying far worse about Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Mr Graham – the former Ochil and South Perthshire MP – claimed whoever replaces Mr Johnson will offer Scotland a “fresh start”.

He said: “In terms of Nicola Sturgeon being an attention seeker, she’s actually a great attention deflector.

Liz Truss was defended by the former head of the Union Unit, Luke Graham.

“It’s the publishing of all these indy papers when we know education, health and local government are all struggling in Scotland, and it’s consistently underperforming compared to other parts of the UK.

“It’s again talking about tearing the country apart.”

Ms Truss had labelled the First Minister an “attention-seeker” who should be ignored at Monday night’s leadership hustings.

Mr Graham also dismissed outrage over her remarks, pointing out Ms Sturgeon had said far worse.

He said: “Let’s not forget whoever becomes prime minister will be dealing with a First Minister who joked about electrocuting Mr Johnson in the privates at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“Ms Truss did it in a polite way and it should be OK to criticise a politician without criticising every voter.

“The SNP are not Scotland. Remember more than 50 per cent voted for Unionist parties at the last Holyrood election.

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“She was also speaking specifically about separation and Ms Sturgeon wanting to separate from the rest of the UK.

“If Nicola Sturgeon wanted an honest conversation about improving health care investment or other things the UK Government has been trying to do for the last few years, I am sure whoever becomes prime minister will be open to it.”

Mr Graham also called for the new prime minister to focus on delivering for Scotland.

He said: "I think it’s a chance for a fresh start and people are almost a bit fed up with words, it has to be action.

“There is a tendency in Westminster to try and see Scotland as a problem rather than consistently and proactively engage.

“You need a prime minister who is really going to lean into this in a pro-active way.

“If the devolved administrations try and block good things, [we can] still find other partners in Scotland to work with to help deliver for people.

“No level of government should be a blocker for progress.”

Elsewhere Brexit opportunities minister Mr Rees-Mogg doubled down on the attack from Ms Truss, telling Sky News: “When she’s waffling on endlessly about having a referendum and going to the Supreme Court and all of this, we need to be saying ‘hold on – you’re doing this because you’re failing to deliver for the people of Scotland, and the United Kingdom Government will have to deliver for the people of Scotland as well’.

“I think she’s very often wrong, she’s always moaning.”

Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf claimed Ms Truss’s comments were “petty jibes” – but warned the Tory leadership hopeful was carrying out an “all-out assault on devolution”.

He said: “Stating that all UK Government policy should apply in Scotland, from the party that hasn’t ruled out including the NHS in future trade deals, should concern us all.”

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