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Willie Rennie doubles majority in North East Fife and sends ‘clear message to the SNP’

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has held on to his North East Fife seat, doubling his majority in the process.

Mr Rennie took a 55% share of the vote, beating second-placed SNP candidate Rhuaraidh Fleming by 7,448 ballots.

He described the result as a great honour, adding: “I was born and brought up in North East Fife and to be re-elected as its MSP is such a privilege.

“It’s also a responsibility, to make sure I stick up for them in parliament and do the work locally for them as well.”

Willie Rennie
Willie Rennie.

Mr Rennie put his success down to his party’s “positive message” throughout the campaign.

“It was about putting recovery first and making sure we cut mental health waiting times – a lot of people struggle with that,” he said.

“Education bounce back, because we lost quite a bit of education last year, jobs and climate – all of these things we’re very positive about.”

He added: “People are also vey clear that we shouldn’t allow an independence referendum to get in the way of that recovery.”

The SNP held on to the 36.5% share of the vote gained in 2016 but the Scottish Conservatives saw their support collapse by almost 60%.

The question over the constitution is seen by many as a the main reason for that, with traditional Tory voters in North East Fife seeing a move to the Lib Dems as the only way to defeat the SNP.

‘A clear message to the SNP’

But Mr Rennie said that was not the only reason.

“There were a lot of people who had perhaps not voted for us in the past who were attracted by our positive message and clarity around independence and voted Liberal Democrat,” he said.

“I don’t think any party owns any voters,” he added. “It’s important that we respect individuals for what their choices are.

“People here have sent a clear message to the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon needs to listen to them.”

Mr Rennie secured 22,163 of the total 40,256 votes cast.

Mr Fleming came a distant second with 14,715, while Conservative candidate Rhona Metcalfe took 2,322 and Labour’s Wendy Haynes came fourth with 1,056.

In 2016 Mr Rennie secured 14,928 votes, leaving then-SNP candidate Roderick Campbell trailing in second place with 11,463.

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