LIZ Truss will not agree to a second Scottish independence referendum for as long as she is prime minister.

The clear favourite to replace the disgraced Boris Johnson in No 10 made the comments in an interview with The Telegraph, indicating to the paper that she would go beyond the standard “now is not the time” rhetoric.

While Truss still needs to see off former chancellor Rishi Sunak in a Tory membership ballot before she can take over as party leader, senior Conservatives are confident she will emerge victorious when the results are announced on September 5.

On entering No 10, Truss would refuse to grant a Section 30 order to allow Holyrood to legislate for a second referendum – and insisted that the Scottish Government’s referendum bill, currently up for consideration by the Supreme Court, is illegal.

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The Tory hopeful said: “The SNP lost the 2014 referendum and Nicola Sturgeon is now leading a campaign of deception to steamroller the UK and break up the Union. But I am completely clear that there will be no second Scottish independence referendum on my watch.

“The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill isn’t legal and will be invalidated if passed by the Scottish Parliament. When Westminster devolved power to Scotland, it did not include the ability to hold valid referenda to break up the Union.

"Any Scotland independence referendum would need to be authorised by the Westminster parliament. If I become prime minister, I would not grant that authority."

Truss’s statement lacks legal basis as the Supreme Court is yet to rule on whether the referendum bill proposed by the Scottish Government is within Holyrood’s competence. While matters which relate to the Union are reserved to Westminster, the holding of referendums is devolved.

The Supreme Court is due to hear the case in October, around a year before the SNP’s proposed date for indyref2 to be held.

The National: LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  A general view of the new Supreme Court on October 2, 2009 in London, England. A ceremony yesterday marked the start of the legal year with a traditional religious service, and a swearing in of 11 new Justices of the

Truss added: “As a Conservative and a Unionist, I know that our Union is much more than the sum of its parts. If Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom, we would all be worse off – Scottish and English, Welsh and Northern Irish alike. I will always stand up for Scotland as a vital part of the UK.

“If I am fortunate enough to be elected, it will be as prime minister for the whole United Kingdom. I intend to keep it that way.”

The statements come despite previous comments, unearthed by The National, in which Truss said she believed in holding "referenda on major constitutional issues".

The Telegraph reported allies of Truss as saying that she "understands Scotland”, further claiming that the Foreign Secretary “has the negotiating experience to see off the SNP".

Truss said: “Scottish Nationalists accepted that their referendum was a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and I will hold them to that."

The "once-in-a-generation" slogan used in 2014 was just political rhetoric with no constitutional relevance, one of the architects of the Edinburgh Agreement said previously.

The Foreign Secretary added: “I will work to strengthen our whole Union. As prime minister, I will do what is necessary and right to defend our Union, just as I have already done on the Northern Ireland Protocol."

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The issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol is far from resolved, with the Tory government’s threats to break international law and renege on its own Brexit deal leading to worries of a trade war with the European Union.

Truss – famously a former remain voter – has morphed into a hard Brexiteer and ignored calls from the US to “come to some agreement” with the EU over the protocol.

The US ambassador to the UK, Jane Hartley, said last week: “The Good Friday Agreement, it will be 25 years in April. We want what we see up there – the peace, prosperity and security – to continue.

“What we would urge is, please, this is not, we’re not part of this negotiation, but we would urge please sit down, sit down privately, and let’s see if there’s a way to make this work for both sides.”

Responding to Truss's comment on indyref2, the SNP's depute leader, Keith Brown, said Scotland "deserves so much better" than what the Tories were offering.

The National:

Brown (above) said: "It is crystal clear that the people of Scotland and Scottish democracy mean nothing to either of the contenders for next Tory Prime Minister.

"But people across Scotland will not stand for yet another Tory Prime Minister we didn't vote for denying the cast iron mandate to hold an independence referendum of a government and parliament we overwhelmingly voted for.

"With each day that passes, both Tory candidates are showing how out of touch they are with people across Scotland as they prioritise trying to outdo each other on Brexit, ducking their duties to support struggling households and standing in the way of Scotland's right to choose its future - Scotland deserves so much better.

"Scots voted for the chance to choose a better future in an independence referendum and - whoever becomes the next leader of the Tories - that future as a wealthier, fairer and more equal independent country is more vital than ever."