Cole-Hamilton tipped to replace LibDem Rennie
Willie Rennie: stepping down (pic: Terry Murden)
Alex Cole-Hamilton has emerged as the most likely successor to Willie Rennie who has announced his resignation as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Mr Cole-Hamilton, who was elected in 2016 to Edinburgh Western, is the party’s spokesman for health and sport and is regarded as the favourite to take on the job.
In a statement issued at 5pm, Mr Rennie said: “After eleven elections and referendums over ten years and a global pandemic, I have decided to stand aside as Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
“I have always believed that politics can be a vehicle to tackle the big issues and transform the lives of the people we are elected to serve.
Alex Cole-Hamilton (left) with former UK leader Vince Cable (pic: Terry Murden)
“That’s why we have championed the case for better mental health services, world class schools and investment for early years education.
“Ours was the lone but important voice speaking out against the centralisation of Scotland’s police and for a more liberal justice system.
“We moved the debate and delivered change so that many more people can now achieve their potential.”
Mr Rennie added: “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.
“To the people of North East Fife, thank you for re-electing me in May. I will continue to work for you.
“To the members of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, it has been a privilege to lead you. I look forward to campaigning with you again soon – we have elections to win.”