WILLIE Rennie has urged Scots, frightened by Brexit, not to “cut and run for independence” but to turn to the pro-UK Liberal Democrats, who have a "credible alternative" to halt Britain’s departure from the EU.

Ahead of his keynote speech today at conference, the Scottish Lib Dem leader said: “There is another way. You don’t have to cut and run for independence.

“Jo Swinson is offering a way out of Brexit. The rise of support for independence, a lot of that is coming from Remainers. They are desperate to stop Brexit. I understand. They are flirting a little bit with independence and the SNP.”

But Mr Rennie claimed that the defections from other parties and the by-election wins at Brecon and Radnor and Shetland showed the “Liberal Democrats have got a credible alternative”.

He went on: “The one million people on the streets of London, the six million signing the revoke petition, protests everywhere, we speak for those people.”

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The Fife MSP claimed the UK was now “more strongly pro-European than it’s ever been”.

He explained: “When you’re about to lose something, people really value it. The whole of the UK is rising up. So, I’m urging people who voted against independence last time round and who are looking for a way out of Brexit, to come with us and be part of that movement across the UK to stop Brexit. To keep the faith; to keep hope. It’s a very positive message. Don’t cut and run.”

As the SNP branded the Lib Dems “grotesquely hypocritical” for backing a direct mandate to scrap Brexit but not to herald in Scottish independence, Mr Rennie defended his party’s position.

“If you’re trying to make a 'big bang' constitutional change to the status quo, you obviously need the democratic endorsement of a referendum behind you. But if you want to keep the status quo, you don’t need that referendum; we’re proposing to keep the status quo.”

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He added: “The SNP are not promising to declare UDI but we are arguing we should stop Brexit dead in its tracks because it is causing such damage and chaos. If people give us democratic endorsement in an election, we can keep the status quo.”

In his speech today, Mr Rennie is expected to say: “When you look at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the answer has to be Jo Swinson. Talented, energetic, empathetic and most of all downright determined.

“Isn’t that the character of someone who would lead our country so well? It’s the refreshing change we need. In the midst of a national crisis, Jo Swinson is rising up. It’s time for the old to make way for the new. So Boris and Jeremy watch out, Jo is on the march.”