Willie Rennie claims Lib Dems 'ready to win' in Scottish election
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The SNP will consider a series of proposals for another referendum at its party conference next month. Motions put forward include placing plans for another ballot before the Scottish parliament “at the earliest moment” after a “clear end” to the public health crisis.
But Alex Cole-Hamilton, who is expected to be appointed the next leader of the Scottish Lib Dems next Friday said he would be prepared to work with the Scottish Conservatives in order to prevent Scotland from separating from the rest of the UK.
He said: “I’m not interested in coalitions or pacts with the Conservative party, but I will work with them in articulating a positive case for our continued membership of the UK.
“I will work with the Conservatives if they recognise our union of nations is imperfect, is in need of reform and could do so much better.
“I will never turn my face against co-operation if it’s in the interests of the people we are here to serve.”
The Edinburgh Western MSP said, however, he would not be interested in working with Labour, an option favoured by predecessor Willie Rennie.
Rejecting plans to work with Anas Sarwar and Sir Keir Starmer, the MSP claimed the party had “recurring problems” that would make any agreement difficult.
In a direct attack on the party, Mr Cole-Hamiton said: “There are reasons I am not a member of the Labour Party.
“It has recurring problems with the rise of the hard left, it is still grappling with anti-Semitism, and it has some tendencies I will never support, like big government.
“We could never sign up wholesale to any kind of merger or pact with the Labour Party, but they are our friends in many ways, and we speak the same language on many social issues.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross previously offered to work with Scottish Labour and the Lib Dems during the Holyrood election to form a pan-Unionist alliance.
But the prospective Scottish Lib Dem leader said of the deal: “Douglas was asking us to sign up lock, stock and barrel to a Conservative vision of Scotland’s continuing in the UK, that is not appealing to many Scots, and many Scots held their noses to vote Conservative on a tactical basis, to stop the SNP’s drive to independence.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton, who is expected to lead a team of four MSPs into the next Holyrood sitting, also said he was implacably opposed to any rerun of the independence referendum.
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He added to The Times of Scotland: “I was sent to parliament by my constituents in record-breaking numbers to oppose a second independence referendum, come what May.
“I have my instructions, I will honour that mandate.
“Why would I support the means of enabling a policy I’m implacably opposed to?”
Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives have been approached for comment.
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