UK Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss both ruled out a second Scottish independence referendum if they become the next prime minister while speaking at a debate Tuesday in Perth, Scotland.
The pair took turns answering questions from a Scottish journalist as well as the audience, which was comprised of party members.
“If I am elected as prime minister, I will not allow another independence referendum,” Truss said.
She added that the 2014 vote was once-in-a-generation, and that rather than “agitating for another referendum,” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should deal with “the very real issues in Scotland.”
“I consider myself a child of the union, and to me, we’re not just neighbours, we’re family,” Truss said. “I will never ever let our family be split up.”
On the issue of a second referendum, Sunak said: “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,” he said. “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.”
“When it comes to Nicola Sturgeon, I want to hold the SNP government to account for what it’s doing and delivering for people here in Scotland,” Sunak said. “But, crucially, I want to take her on and win the argument on the union because I passionately believe in it and it’s an argument that I think we can win.”
Members of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party are currently voting to decide on their next leader, who will also become the next prime minister.
Truss is leading in internal Conservative Party membership polls by some margin, though Sunak led in the first stage of the contest with Conservative Party lawmakers.
The new leader of the Conservative Party, and in turn prime minister, will be announced on Sept. 5.