Tory leadership contest: Scotland has felt like an afterthought, but tonight it will be the focus

The candidates to be the next prime minister have been touring Scotland’s north-east ahead of a hustings for party members in Perth.

Lis Truss visited the BenRiach distillery near Elgin, where she spoke to the media and enjoyed a dram with Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, before heading to an event in Aberdeen.

Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, was due to meet the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation in Stonehaven before travelling up to Cluny Castle and across to the Granite City.

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Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross visit the BenRiach distillery. Picture by Paul Campbell/Getty Images

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Senior Tory politicians often choose to visit the north-east. Three of the party’s six Scottish MPs represent constituencies there, after all.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously held press events at RAF Lossiemouth, the Roseisle whisky distillery and, memorably, a rural farm in Aberdeenshire.

The latter took a surreal turn when he told journalists a part of his soul still yearns to believe in the Loch Ness monster.

Today’s visits by Ms Truss and Mr Sunak are largely for party members. Media access is limited, and communication hasn’t been great from either camp.

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Helpfully, this paper was only officially told of Ms Truss's midday visit near Elgin – a three hour and 40 minutes' drive from our base in Edinburgh – at 9:32am.

Still, at least she invited newspapers, which is more than can be said for Mr Sunak.

As for the hustings in Perth, what should we expect from the two candidates?

It will be the only opportunity for Scottish Tory members to question them on their respective visions for Scotland.

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They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but to those you can add a third – Ms Truss will once again describe herself as a “child of the Union”.

She will highlight her childhood in Paisley in the hope it shows she understands and can deliver for Scotland.

Mr Sunak will try to show he gets it too, and that the Union is safer in his hands.

Both candidates have promised greater scrutiny of the Scottish Government if they win the keys to Downing Street.

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Both will lay into the SNP’s domestic record.

But both will also have to demonstrate they can move beyond easy soundbites and deliver on the substance.

Scotland has so far felt like a bit of an afterthought. Tonight it will be the focus.

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