Liberal Democrats Conference: Willie Rennie hits out at SNP’s focus on independence

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie suggested the SNP is a vindictive party that would say or do anything to get power.

The SNP’S focus on independence is holding Scotland back from positive change, according to the Liberal Democrats’ Scottish leader.

Willie Rennie used a speech at the party’s conference in Glasgow to claim the country faces a “choice of two futures for the day after” next September’s referendum.

He said: “With the Nationalists’ future, it’s putting up fences to friends and neighbours, barriers for business, a country that looks like it is only interested in itself.

“With our future it will be good morning to a stronger Scotland, confident enough to be able to share with our neighbours.”

Mr Rennie suggested the SNP are a vindictive party that would do or say anything to get to power even blackmailing voters with a promise that an independent Scotland would result in the funding that families and school leavers crave.

He said the Nationalists’ “perverse logic” meant that toddlers were being deprived of free nursery care and students denied a place at college.

Mr Rennie added: “I have been saying for a long time that the SNP have the wrong priorities for Scotland. They have sacrificed health, transport, education and justice to campaign for independence.

“It might be right for the SNP but it’s wrong for Scotland.”

His speech was greeted with a standing ovation.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, who sits on the Referendum Bill Committee, said independence “is the broad, inclusive and positive choice for Scotland”.

He added: “Mr Rennie doesn’t seem to understand what the referendum is about it’s about democracy, not identity.”

Another major issue on the conference floor was delegates’ vote to support the building of a new generation of nuclear power plants a policy U-turn which marks an important victory for the Lib Dem’s leadership.

Party members at the Glasgow conference voted 230 to 183 to support nuclear power in “limited” circumstances.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey earlier warned the party not backing nuclear would be “reckless” and said he had changed his mind because of climate change but he still came under attack from environmental campaigners.