Willie Rennie has said it is up to Nicola Sturgeon to make her own case for appearing in live television debates during the General Election.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader was responding to demands from Scotland’s First Minister to be included in the head-to-head debates.

It follows UK party leader Jo Swinson saying the Lib Dems would be taking legal advice over their exclusion from an ITV election debate.

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General Election 2019Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie (right) and campaign chairman Alex Cole-Hamilton on the General Election campaign trail in Blackhall, Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Rennie said of Ms Sturgeon: “She’ll make her own case. There’s no doubt the Liberal Democrats have had a big increase in support right across the United Kingdom.

“We are a party that’s standing right across the country so we’ve got a UK-wide platform.

“It’s up to Nicola to make her own case for that and I’m sure she’ll make that quite forcefully.

“But we’re doing our part in trying to make sure it’s not just the old boys’ network – two leave parties arguing against each other in the debate.”

During an election event in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Mr Rennie also said the Brexit Party could have a big impact in the campaign.

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The party’s leader, Nigel Farage, previously said they would stand candidates in every seat across the UK if Boris Johnson does not drop his Brexit deal.

Mr Rennie said: “They might well have a big impact. Because there’s no doubt that Boris Johnson created this impression that he might go ahead with a no-deal, that Theresa May’s deals were unacceptable, and now actually he’s backing a deal that was rejected by Theresa May just last year.

“So I think there will be a lot of Brexit supporters who might be genuinely dissatisfied with what he’s done.

“They may feel they need to express their view in this election but that’s up to them.

“Obviously, I disagree with them. I want to stop Brexit. I think the Prime Minister’s deal but also a ‘clean break’, as the Brexit Party call it, would be deeply damaging for the country.”

A key seat for the Liberal Democrats in Scotland is Ross, Skye and Lochaber – the seat previously held by the late Charles Kennedy and currently occupied by the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

“Well, we’re after him,” Mr Rennie said about challenging Mr Blackford.

“We’re determined to win that seat back. We’ve got a really good candidate who’s working incredibly hard.

“I’ll be going up there very soon, I spend quite a lot of time up there myself – in the Black Isle, over in Lochaber, also up in Skye, over the last year.

“So I’m in and out of the constituency a lot. It’s a very important place for me, we all remember Charles and would love to win it back.”

He added: “But we’ll win it back on our own terms because people deserve a decent representative up there who speaks for them because the majority of people in that part of the world want to stay in the United Kingdom but also in the European Union.

“That’s why we are going to make a very strong case up there for us.”