Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Jenni Davidson
12 July 2021
Willie Rennie to stand down as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Willie Rennie - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

Willie Rennie to stand down as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Willie Rennie has announced that he is standing down as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The North East Fife MSP said it had been a “privilege” to lead the party but it was time for a “fresh face” to take it forward.

Rennie is currently the second longest serving party leader at Holyrood, having taken up the role in May 2011.

In that time he has led the party through 11 elections and referendums, during a period of difficulty for the Lib Dems in which the party saw its number of MSPs drop first into the single figures and then down to just four in 2021.

Rennie said that he had always believed that politics could be a “vehicle to tackle the big issues and transform the lives of the people we are elected to serve” and that the Lib Dems had “moved the debate and delivered change”.

He will continue as the MSP for North East Fife and said he would give his “full support” to the new leader.

Rennie said: “Liberal Democrats stand for an open, united and outward looking country. 

“We are on the side of those who want a better future for themselves and their families but who also want the same for others, from the people living next door to those in countries around the world that often lack the advantages that we enjoy here. 

“Standing up for Scotland’s place in the UK and in Europe is second nature to us.

“The divisive debates that have dominated our country over these issues have inflicted damage within families, communities and the economy.     

“Scotland deserves a strong progressive alternative to the twin nationalisms represented by the SNP and Conservatives. 

“They polarise and divide Scotland when we should unite to overcome the enormous challenges we face, from COVID-19 to climate change to the inequalities that continue to stain our society. 

“Over the last decade there have been both gains and losses along the way, but I have enjoyed every effort. I love a good campaign. 

“But it is time for a fresh face to lead our party forward. 

“The new leader will have my full support in writing the next bright chapter of the Scottish Liberal Democrats' story.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - The Holyrood baby: More likely to live in poverty now than the day she was born.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top