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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other party leaders pay tribute to Willie Rennie

Willie Rennie MSP
Willie Rennie MSP

Party colleagues and opposition politicians have paid tribute to the leadership of Willie Rennie, after he announced he was stepping down as Lib Dem boss.

Mr Rennie announced on Monday he was stepping aside as party boss to allow a “fresh face” to take over.

Most paid tribute to Mr Rennie’s enthusiasm for a fun photo opportunity, while praising his commitment and “decency”.

He has saved our party from oblivion and obscurity on more than one occasion.”


Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Best wishes to Willie Rennie. Despite our political disagreements, I’ve always respected his commitment and decency.

“Political leadership takes its toll and, after 10 years at the helm of his party, I’m sure he is looking forward to new challenges.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “It’s not been a quiet ten years in Scottish politics.

Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour

“Throughout it all, Willie Rennie has led with humour, positivity, energy and compassion. He is a good friend and an inspiration to all those that love a photo-op.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Best wishes to Willie. He’s been leader all the way through a rollercoaster decade in Scottish politics and I hope he now gets to enjoy a lot more well-deserved time with family. Scottish election photo ops will never be the same again.”

Douglas Ross MSP

Former SNP MP for North East Fife Stephen Gethins said: “Very best to Willie Rennie
for whatever comes next.

“He was always a good colleague during our time serving the same communities even though we represented different parties.

“Being leader of a party means a lot of time away from home so good wishes to him and his family.”


Cole-Hamilton “heart saddened”

Likely leadership contender Alex Cole Hamilton, the Lib Dem representative for Edinburgh Western, said he still had “much to learn” from Mr Rennie.

He said: “I am heart saddened by Willie’s decision to step down as leader.

“There are few people in my life who have had as much influence over it as he has and he is one of my best friends.

“When people think about Willie, more often than not they think of the most recognisable smile in Scottish politics.

“They are right to do so. His positivity is irrepressible. It had carried both me and the Scottish Lib Dems through some of our darkest moments and it is not overstating things to say he has saved our party from oblivion and obscurity on more than one occasion.

“That charm and relentless positivity has earned him a warmth and an affection in the general public seldom afforded to those in politics, reflected in his huge majority in North East Fife.”

He continued: “Scotland needs politicians of profound substance and integrity. Willie has both of those things and some to spare.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie (right) and  Alex Cole-Hamilton in Edinburgh.

“Were it not for him, mental health and early years education would not enjoy the prominence they do in the corridors of Parliament and of Government today.

“His legacy as leader will be vast and long lasting, principally focussed on those at the margins of society while ensuring Scotland has had and will continue to have strong, liberal voices at every level of public life in our country.

“I am profoundly glad we will continue to work together in Parliament going forward as I still have much to learn from him.”

North East Fife Lib Dem MP Wendy Chamberlain said: “Willie Rennie isn’t just my constituency colleague, he’s my friend.

Mr Rennie and MP Wendy Chamberlain outside the St Andrews Spar.

“He’s also the reason why I’m an MP, because he asked me to stand.

“Thanks for everything you have done for the party in the last decade. Looking forward to knocking doors with you soon.”

UK Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “From banging the drum on mental health and education to those amazing photo-ops, Willie Rennie has been a fantastic leader, he is the best of us.

“Delighted he is sticking around as an MSP. Our party and our country need him.”


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