TORY leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch has claimed SNP ministers "hide behind populism and polarisation" to deflect from their failures in office and "blame England for injustices". 

Writing for The Times, former equalities minister who is seeking to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister said the Scottish Government has "screwed up" the transport system and attacked their record on the NHS, education and justice. 

Badenoch also insisted the SNP "thrive on setting people against each other" and neglect the "real challenges" voters face.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss accused the leadership hopeful of "ridiculous Trumpian logic" in the face of the party continually winning elections.

Badenoch said: "The SNP thrive on generating grievances and setting people against each other.

"They blame England for injustices rather than bringing Scots of every background together in a common endeavor.

"Their single-minded focus on the constitution and a drive for independence means they neglect the real challenges voters face, and when challenged they hide behind populism and polaristation to disguise a lack of delivery."

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Thewliss hit back and said: "It's a strange strategy for a candidate to tell the electorate in Scotland they are wrong."

Badenoch has also said she would work with the Scottish Government on shared interests but “won’t be afraid” to call them out “when they let Scotland down”.

She said Scotland was “integral” to the success of the wider UK, adding: “As prime minister I would champion Scotland’s interests, its place in our UK, and its amazing potential.”

Badenoch has emerged with a stronger showing of support than many expected, winning the votes of 49 fellow Tory MPs in the most recent ballot.

But the MP for Saffron Walden has been part of a fair share of scandals over time – from admitting to hacking a Labour MP’s website to calling a journalist “creepy and bizarre” for asking questions about a Covid vaccines video.

In 2018, she apologised after admitting she had hacked a Labour MP’s website to “say nice things about the Tories”.

And in 2021, Badenoch caused controversy after publishing screenshots on social media of questions sent by a Huffington Post reporter asking why she had not taken part in a Covid information video.

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Instead of responding privately to the request for comment, the MP used Twitter to accuse Nadine White of “making up claims”, with the journalist subsequently receiving a significant amount of abuse.

The actions by the then minister led to an alert about the risk to media freedom being registered with the Council of Europe, with the NUJ calling her response “frankly weird, completely out of order and an abuse of her privilege”.

Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt currently lead the race to be PM after the first two rounds of voting among Tory MPs.

It would appear the Scottish Tories are largely against Foreign Secretary Liz Truss taking office, with sources saying "she is seen as the hardest of sells to Scotland". 

Oliver Mundell is the only Scottish Tory MSP to show any support for her as he confirmed to The Times he was "leaning towards Liz Truss".