Willie Rennie: Lib Dem's job is to 'turn back the tide of division’

Written by Jenni Davidson on 10 March 2017 in News

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference in Perth, the Scottish Lib Dem leader said his party must make a “positive, open, internationalist case”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie - Image credit: Policy Exchange

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claims it’s up to his party to “turn back the tide of division” in Scotland.

Speaking ahead of his party’s spring conference in Perth today and tomorrow, Rennie said that that while Conservatives and the SNP want to divide the country, the Liberal Democrats must make a “positive, open, internationalist case.”

Rennie said: “If there is to be another independence referendum the responsibility on liberals is great. We must stand up and be counted for our values.

“The Conservatives have done more damage to the Union with their Brexit gamble and with Labour in complete disarray they have turned from the party of opposition to the party of compliance.


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“The argument of independence is a battle of ideas and values, not of identities and flags. We must stand up for our family whether in Britain or across Europe.

“We must make the positive, open, internationalist case. Send a message of hope that things can be better still.

“We can turn back the tide of division. We can celebrate both our differences and the ties that bind us. We can say no to independence and yes to partnership.  

“We can, once and for all, put an end to the claim that if you do not believe in independence you do not believe in Scotland. Our job is to turn back the tide of division.”

His comments come as Lib Dem MP and former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael has suggested the UK Government risks repeating the same mistakes in the event of a second referendum.

He told The Herald newspaper: “Too much of the way in which the campaign was fought allowed to be characterised as a contest between governments in Holyrood and Westminster.

"That cannot be allowed to happen again. It will have to be a much more Scottish-centric campaign.”

He also said the autumn 2018 that Nicola Sturgeon has suggested for a second independence vote would be in appropriate because the UK would still be in negotiations over Brexit and voters would not know what kind of UK they were leaving.

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