THE SNP depute leader has called for the Tory leadership hopefuls to explain why Westminster has “failed Scotland at every turn”.

Ahead of the next TV debate, Keith Brown said the remaining candidates vying for the keys of Number 10 had to explain why the UK Government should continue to make “bad decisions” for Scotland against its “clear democratic will”.

The Tory contenders will take part in a debate on ITV tonight at 7pm, ahead of the next round of voting.

By Wednesday, just two will remain with the winner to be decided by a ballot of Conservative Party members over the summer.

With the Scottish Government’s publication of the second paper on independence last week, the SNP’s Brown said decisions about Scotland should be made in Scotland.

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He said examples of Westminster failures include a 2018 report, which criticised the approach of the UK Government to North Sea oil and found a wealth fund could be worth over £500 billion today had it been established in the 1980s.

The Scottish Government has spent more than £100 million counteracting the impact of UK austerity in 2019 alone, he added.

Brown said: “From the failure to invest North Sea oil revenue like Norway, to a decade of cruel Tory austerity and a hard Brexit that Scotland overwhelmingly rejected, Westminster control has failed Scotland at every turn.

“The remaining Tory leadership hopefuls don’t give a toss about Scotland – but they need to explain why Westminster has any right to continue to make bad decisions for Scotland against our clear democratic will.

“Our European neighbours are happier, healthier and wealthier than the UK – because of bad policy that Scotland is forced to thole under Westminster control.”

He added: “Scotland’s opportunity for a better future comes with the full powers of independence, where decisions about Scotland are taken in Scotland – not by the Tories, who Scotland hasn’t voted for since the 1950s.”

During the first TV Tory leader debate on Chanel 4 on Friday night, the MPs argued over issues such as funding public services, inflation, tax and identity politics.

Rishi Sunak’s campaign team claimed that he had “unambiguously won” the debate, but a snap poll of 1159 viewers by pollsters Opinium put him in second place, with 24% saying he had been the strongest performer.

The favourite from that poll was Tom Tugendhat – seen as the outsider in the contest – on 36%. The candidates squirmed when asked if they thought Boris Johnson was an honest man, and he drew applause from the studio audience when he was the only candidate to answer with a shake of the head and “no”.

Penny Mordaunt, the International Trade Minister, tied with former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch for third place on 12%, while Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, trailed in fifth with just 7%.

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Another survey of more than 4400 people by JL Partners for the Sunday Telegraph found that of those who had heard of all five candidates, Sunak had the highest approval rating among Tory voters.

Of those who voted Conservative in 2019, 48% thought the former chancellor would make a good prime minister, compared to 39% for Truss, 33% for Mordaunt, 29% for Tugendhat and 21% for Badenoch.

Yesterday, Sunak again insisted inflation must be brought under control before the Government can cut taxes, following a bruising clash with Mordaunt and Truss during the TV debate.

The former chancellor rounded on his rivals, saying proposals to raise borrowing to pay for tax cuts were a “fairytale”.

Tugendhat said yesterday that he was committed to delivering on Brexit, despite having been a strong Remain supporter in the 2016 referendum.

Meanwhile Mordaunt accused other campaigns of running “black ops” briefings against her to damage her chances of reaching the last two of the contest.