TORY leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt has said the question of Scottish independence is "settled" and she would never allow another vote "under any circumstances".

The trade minister was grilled on the BBC Sunday Morning show as she aims to see off her four rivals Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, and Tom Tugendhat, and secure the keys to number 10.

Presenter Sophie Raworth opted not to discuss Scottish independence until a final quickfire round of questions where she asked whether there were any circumstances in which Mordaunt would allow a second referendum, to which she said "it's a settled question".

When pushed repeatedly for a yes or no answer, she said "no".

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie accused Mordaunt of "denying democracy" and said last year's Scottish election - in which the SNP stood on a manifesto of delivering another referendum - proved it was not a "settled question". 

Some viewers criticised the framing of the question by Raworth which one Twitter user claimed showed denying democracy was "inbuilt into the system".

It comes after it was unearthed Mordaunt said the Union could be strengthened by England taking part in celebrating Burns Night in a book she wrote with multimillionaire PR agency boss Chris Lewis last year. 

Meanwhile, her rival Tugendhat also appeared on the show and said a "generation hasn't passed", suggesting he would not allow another vote in the immediate future.

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Mordaunt - one of the favourites to replace Boris Johnson as PM - showed off about her Scottish popularity last week, but based her claim on a poll of just 78 people. 

She has been backed by Glasgow MSP Annie Wells and Borders MP John Lamont.

One of the most tricky issues she has been faced with so far is her apparent change of heart over gender self-identification.

In the first televised debate on Friday, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who also has responsibility for equality issues, claimed Mordaunt had backed a push for self-identification for those who wish to transition while she was equalities minister under Theresa May.

Mordaunt strongly challenged the claims on the show and said that while she had ordered a review of the Gender Recognition Act, she was not in favour of self-identification and would “not have divorced it from healthcare”.

When speaking to Raworth, she confirmed she felt trans people should have to get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria before they can legally change their gender and claimed there were a number of "smears" going on in the papers. 

She said: “This has been rebutted many times. We all know what is going on. This is the type of toxic politics people want to get away from.

"We did a consultation [while she was equalities minister]. We asked healthcare professionals what they thought about the situation. That is the section I looked after. I managed that consultation. We didn’t actually, on my shift, produce a policy.

"There is a number of smears going on in the papers. My colleagues are very angry and upset that this is how the leadership contest is being dragged down.”

When asked if she represented a fresh start for the Tory party, she said: "I think what people want is an end to the toxic politics we’ve seen over the last few months, they want someone that can restore trust, and they want someone that does have some competence and experience.

"I think I’m that candidate and I think you’ll see what in the campaign I’m running. I’ve taken a different approach, I’m not completely ripping up everything we’re doing, I’m doing this in a sensible way."