THE Tory leadership candidates have refused to say if they would ever allow another independence referendum at the only hustings event to be held north of the Border.

Rishi Sunak said he could not “imagine the circumstances” in which he would allow a second vote if he becomes prime minister, as he addressed the audience of Tory party members in Perth.

Despite previously suggesting another vote should be held after Brexit, the former chancellor said that “now or anytime in the near future” would not be the time to focus on it.

Sunak became irate with the host, STV political editor Colin Mackay, as he asked about the referendum, telling him: “It would be great if I could just answer the question, Colin, that you posed. That would be marvellous, thank you very much.”

Members of the audience of Conservative Party members could be heard to cheer and clap in response.

The National: Liz Truss stands with her supporters as she arrives for a hustings event at Perth Concert Hall in Perth, Scotland, as part of the be leader of the Conservative Party and the next prime minister. Picture date: Tuesday August 16, 2022. PA

Sunak then told the Tory members: “I can’t imagine the circumstances in which I would.

“We live in a Union, which is, of course, there by consent and by democracy and I accept that, but I just don’t think that anybody thinks that now or any time in the near future is remotely the time to focus on this.”

Meanwhile, his rival Liz Truss was quizzed on whether her refusal to consider holding another independence vote was “not now” or “not ever”.

She was greeted with loud cheers when she responded: “If I am elected as prime minister, I will not allow another independence referendum.”

READ MORE: Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak back to old tricks in Perth

Mackay continued to press her on the question, despite boos from the audience, asking what would be the democratic route for another vote to be held.

Truss replied: “At the time of the 2014 referendum it was agreed by the SNP it was a once-in-a-generation referendum.

“I believe in politicians keeping their promises and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise.”

The SNP’s Depute Westminster spokesperson, Kirsten Oswald MP, said: “The pair repeatedly attempted to tell us tonight what Scotland wants. Scotland has made it clear what it does and doesn’t want by repeatedly rejecting the Tories at the polls and repeatedly voting for independence-supporting parties.

“Scotland hasn’t voted for the Tories since the 1950s yet we keep getting saddled with Tory governments and prime ministers.

“We were told in 2014 that Scotland’s place in the EU would only be safe if we rejected independence – that was a lie.

“It’s time Scotland had a say on its future – and it’s clear that whoever wins this gruesome Tory contest will only increase support for independence.”

The two Tory leadership contenders were in Perth for the only hustings to take place in Scotland.

With less than three weeks to go before the new prime minister is announced, Perth Concert Hall was busy with around 650 party members turning up to hear the pitches, with much of the emphasis placed on their Unionist credentials.

READ MORE: Scottish Conservative members at Perth hustings rate the candidates

Billed as “quite a scary job interview” by STV’s Mackay, the first to make an opening statement was Sunak.

Sunak attacked the SNP several times in his opening statement. Referring to his rival’s previous comments, he said: “I don’t want to just ignore Nicola Sturgeon, I want to take her on and beat her.”

Truss was next to make her pitch.

The Foreign Secretary opened by – once again – emphasising her Scottish links and referring to the UK as not just neighbours but a family.

“I will never ever let our family be split up,” she added.

When the hustings moved on to grilling the candidates, including questions from the audience, a range of topics were tackled.

Sunak ruled out freezing the energy price cap to help struggling households with growing costs.

“I don’t think that is the right approach,” he said.

He was challenged by an audience member on the UK Government’s controversial Rwanda immigration policy, who told him the policy was “inhumane”.

He disagreed, adding: “Making the Rwanda policy work is an important part of getting a grip of this situation.”

Asked if he knew about warnings to ministers that Rwanda would kill political opponents sent there, Sunak said: “The United Nations believed that Rwanda is fine so I do think it is fine to do it.”

Truss refused to say what support other than pausing the green energy levy she would offer people to limit the impact of energy bill rises.

“What I’m not going to do here is write the next chancellor’s budget when we are still in the middle of this leadership election,” she said, when asked what more she would do.