RISHI Sunak has claimed the “forces of separatism” are “in retreat” as he listed what he thought were the proudest achievements of 14 years of Tory rule.

In a speech to mark the launch of the Conservative manifesto at the Silverstone F1 race track, the Prime Minister said the Tories had “strengthened our United Kingdom”.

In a list of achievements, the Tory leader also talked up the austerity programme that followed the financial crash and welfare reforms as he claimed the Conservatives had reduced poverty.

Sunak said the Tories had also improved schools in England as he hit back at Labour who “pretend that we have somehow not achieved anything”.

He said: “Labour left Britain on the brink of bankruptcy.”

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Sunak gave a spirited defence of the Tory record since the party came to power in 2010, including the UK’s support for Ukraine and its response to the Covid pandemic.

And he turned his attention to the constitutional question, indirectly addressing Scottish nationalism.

Sunak said: “We strengthened our United Kingdom with the forces of separatism in retreat. We legislated for equal marriage and now it is not even surprising for so many people from diverse backgrounds to sit around our Cabinet table.

“I know you’ll agree with me, we may not have got everything perfectly right but that is a record that I am mighty proud of.”

Ministers in the devolved governments of Great Britain have repeatedly spoken of the breakdown in relations between London, Edinburgh and Cardiff in recent years, while Irish republican sentiment in Northern Ireland is on the rise.

Polls are consistently placing support for Scottish independence at around 50%, significantly higher than when the Tories first came to power in 2010.

Responding to the Tory manifesto launch, the SNP said the party should have spared themselves the bother because everyone knows "the public plan is to boot them out of office".

The SNP candidate for Inverness, Skye and West Ross-Shire, Drew Hendry, said: “Never will a democratic drubbing be so deserved after inflicting austerity, Brexit, and a cost-of-living crisis on people for the last 14 years. 
“In Scotland, SNP candidates are the main challengers in every single Tory-held seat and our candidates will do our part in getting rid of this toxic Tory government."