TORY members were reticent to say much about how they might cast their vote to pick the next prime minister when The National approached them to speak about the leadership circus as it rolled into Perth on Tuesday night.

Most were undecided and said they were using the event to make up their minds as the contest nears a close.

One man – who identified himself only as Robbo – said he would “rather Boris was back” than either candidate and said he was not put off by the Prime Minister’s lockdown lawbreaking because he had done the same himself.

READ MORE: Inside Perth's Conservative leadership hustings protest

“That didn’t bother me, I did the same myself – just went about my own business, going up and down to England,” he said.

One voter, who would not give her name, said she was backing Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, because he had “more sound economic policies”.

Others told us they felt Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was the stronger candidate as they entered Perth Concert Hall to hear the candidates’ pitches to chants of “Tory scum” from a large crowd of protesters gathered outside.

It’s Truss’s to win, if the bookies are right, and most people we spoke to were not put off by her describing Nicola Sturgeon as an “attention seeker” who was best ignored.

“Factual and accurate,” was how Iain – a Truss supporter – viewed his candidate’s assessment of the First Minister.

One undecided Conservative member defended Truss’ comments and argued she hadn’t intended to say that Scotland itself should be ignored.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak says he 'can't imagine circumstances' where he would allow another referendum

He said: “I think she meant that just when Nicola Sturgeon rants, that should be ignored, just when she rants.”

Another added: “Well you can’t ignore her but she is an attention seeker, so she was kind of half right, half wrong.”

"Truss is deluded"

But Max, a Tory member from Bute, who has already voted for Sunak described Truss as “deluded” and doubted her ability to defend the Union.

He said: “She’s aggressive but she’s also just relaying all the same arguments that have been relayed too long.

“The perfect thing that summed it up for me was – what does she do when she comes to Scotland? She goes to Aberdeen and goes to a distillery.

“You can’t have any understanding of Scotland if that’s what you do. It’s depressing.”

READ MORE: Scotland deserves better than ‘populist soundbites’ at Tory hustings say SNP

Union important to members - but not THE crucial deciding factor

Few said the Union would be a major factor in how they would make their minds up, with most who gave a view saying it was not as important as other factors or on a level pegging.

But one Truss supporter said “that’s why I’m doing it” when asked if she thought the Foreign Secretary would be better placed to crack down defeat the Scottish independence movement. She also called Truss’s Sturgeon jibe “amusing”.

One man admitted there was “not much in it” when it came to who was better placed to defend the Union.

Douglas Ross was the best-placed person to defend the Union, in the view of one Tory member, despite the Scottish leader not being on the ballot.

Senior Tories have their say

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary who stayed on under Johnson, said he was not publicly backing either candidate and insisted bother were “excellent and both would make very a good prime minister whomever should win”.

Murdo Fraser, Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “[Truss] had a very clear message for the audience I think in her remarks she spoke more about Scotland and what she would do to strengthen relationships within the United Kingdom.”

Sunak was the candidate for Iain Whyte, the leader of the Edinburgh Council Tory group, who said: “He’s been very clear that he wouldn’t, as prime minister, countenance [indyref2]. And of course, the key thing that people in Scotland want to know is how we’re going to deal with energy bills this winter, not whether we have another divisive referendum.”

Bill Bowman, a former North East MSP, said the “ignore” swipe was a “comment made at the time to a particular evidence” and his friend who exited the building with him said Truss would “stand up” to Sturgeon.