IF he becomes prime minister, Rishi Sunak has pledged to be "firm" with Nicola Sturgeon if she requests a second Scottish independence referendum.

The former chancellor said the Union is "under real risk" as he committed to being "more active" in delivering projects in Scotland in the event he wins the Tory contest.

Sunak made the comments at a Q&A event during a hustings in Leeds where he was joined by his rival Liz Truss.

The Tory MP said there had to be more emotional arguments for the Union to counter the “seductive and romantic” appeal of independence.

Asked how he would keep Scotland in the UK, Sunak said: “We're under real risk. The best things we can do are be firm with Nicola Sturgeon about another referendum.

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"We need to make sure that in government in Whitehall that we don't just devolve and forget, which for many years has been the institutional imperative.

“We as UK Government ministers have to be more active in Scotland, we have to be more active about delivering benefits of the Union on the ground to the people in Scotland and working constructively there to do that. 

“And crucially, when you're countering nationalism, we can't just talk in arguments to do with our head. 

“It's easy to talk about borrowing and debt and trade and pensions and currency. But ultimately, nationalism is a seductive and romantic idea. 

“So we have got to make arguments about the Union that speak to people's hearts and speak to their emotions.

"Because if we focus just on the practicalities, we will not be successful. And I think we can do that.”