Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie urges Jo Swinson to join him at Holyrood

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has said he has no plans to quit but he would like to see the party’s former UK leader Jo Swinson in Holyrood.

He told the PA news agency he has spoken to the former East Dunbartonshire MP, who lost her seat at December’s General Election to the SNP, in an attempt to bring her into his Holyrood cohort.

Ms Swinson has yet to make a decision on her future, the Scottish Lib Dem leader said.

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She quit as UK leader following a poor performance at the ballot box in a campaign during which she repeatedly said she was looking to be the next Prime Minister.

Former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

In March, The Press and Journal reported speculation Mr Rennie would stand down as party leader and Ms Swinson was being lined up to take on his role.

Rejecting most of the claims of the story, Mr Rennie said he is trying to entice the former leader to run for Holyrood in next year’s election.

He said: “I would love to see Jo come to the Scottish Parliament, I think she’s talented.

“I was keen to encourage her to stay involved and for her to consider the Scottish Parliament as one of those options.

“She’s not made her mind up about that but I think she’s talented and would be great to have.

“It’s too early for her to leave the political scene – I hope she does do it.”

Commenting on his own tenure, Mr Rennie said he had no intention of standing down after nine years at the head of the party.

He said: “Anybody who has been leader for nine years would look at a 10-year period to look at what they’re going to do next.

“But I’ve got no intention of standing down.

“This is a big opportunity, for somebody who has been around in politics for a while now, just to try to shape things to be a little bit different.”

Referring to his regular comic campaign trail photo opportunities with numerous animals, Mr Rennie joked: “I’ve got a lot more animals to meet, once they let me into the zoo there’s going to be years of election photos.”

When asked to reflect on his time as leader, which has involved two Holyrood elections, three general elections and two referendums, Mr Rennie said: “Of course there’s things that you would do differently.

“I’ve had spats with the party at times over things like fracking and I’ve had spats externally with others that I wish I hadn’t had.

“But generally, the growth of the party following the coalition and keeping the party steady during the coalition, I’m actually quite satisfied with.”

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