JACKSON Carlaw was left squirming last night after he was forced to defend Boris Johnson comparing Muslim women wearing the burka to “letterboxes” and describing gay men as “tank-topped bum boys”.

The Tory chief was put on the spot during STV’s televised election debate between the leaders of the SNP, Scottish Labour, the Scottish LibDems, and the Scottish Tories.

The Scottish Greens weren’t invited to take part in the hour-long programme that was dominated by Brexit and independence.

In his opening statement, Carlaw told voters that in little more than a week, the “Union would be on the ballot paper.”

He added: “Nicola Sturgeon plans a second independence referendum next year, she will demand it next week and Jeremy Corbyn has said he won’t block that second referendum.

“It’s clear he will sell out Scotland and cave into Nicola Sturgeon’s demands. This is for real.”

Sturgeon told viewers that only the SNP had “the strength to beat the Tories in Scotland”.

“Boris Johnson is utterly unfit to be Prime Minister but if he wins a majority he will take us out of Europe and the world’s biggest single market against our will,” she said.

“Most disturbingly of all our precious NHS would be on the table as he chases a trade deal with Donald Trump,” she warned.

Willie Rennie promised that his party would “stop Brexit and stop independence so we can put an end to the constitutional divisions that we have endured for almost a decade”.

Later, Richard Leonard encouraged those watching at home to remember that this is “a UK General Election and it’s a straight choice between a Tory and Labour government”.

He added: “While everyone else struggles on the rich have got richer. Labour can get to work next week to build an economy that works not just for the few at the top but works for the many.”

In the second half, where the party chiefs were allowed to cross-examine each other, Sturgeon asked Carlaw if he would always “prioritise Boris Johnson’s wishes over Scotland’s” pointing to a recent report suggesting child poverty would increase under Tory manifesto plans.

Rennie raised Johnson’s past comments, and pointed out to Carlaw that the Prime Minister was being supported by EDL founder Tommy Robinson and Donald Trump. “Are you not embarrassed to have him as your leader when he’s said these things and he’s backed by these terrible people? You shouldn’t be in the same team as him”

Carlaw revealed that when Johnson became Prime Minister he had “sat down with him in Downing Street and said to his face that he had said things before that I could not support and were unacceptable”.

The Scots Tory boss later said he was was “impressed” that Johnson was “delivering the commitments” he’d made.

A flustered Leonard was accused of being “confused” on the “big issues of the day”.

Rennie asked Leonard if he had ever tried to change Jeremy Corbyn’s mind.

“We have lots of conversation on lots of policy areas,” he replied

Sturgeon asked Leonard if was “the only member of CND that supports spending £200m on renewing nuclear weapons”.

Rennie, pushed on his party’s role in the coalition government, said the nation’s finances had been left in a terrible state by Labour.