WILLIE Rennie has said he would put stopping independence ahead of stopping Brexit if the general election results in a hung parliament.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said he would not want a second independence vote to add to the existing “constitutional chaos”.

He said he was making it “crystal clear” to electors that he would not vote for Indyref2 “whatever the circumstances”.

He said: "Wherever we are, whatever opportunity we get, we will vote against another independence referendum because we want to learn the lessons [of 2014], not repeat them.”

Launching his party’s manifesto at Murrayfield Curling Rink in Edinburgh, Mr Rennie said he wanted to stop both Brexit and independence, and “build a brighter future” without them.

He described the two constitutional issues as “these terrible twins of division, of cost, of borders, of lost opportunities” .

He said: “Liberal Democrats will stop another independence referendum in Scotland, and stop the division and chaos independence would cause.

“We need to learn the lessons of Brexit, not repeat the mistakes with independence.

“Cutting ties with our closest neighbours is a backwards and isolating move – that’s been the lesson of the past three years.

“Independence would bring all the chaos and distraction of Brexit, but multiply it.

“Our ties with Europe are deep and valuable. Our ties with the UK are even deeper and even more valuable. Cutting ties with Europe after 40 years is torture.

“Imagine the pain of breaking 300-year-old ties. Just like Brexit, it would be the vulnerable who would suffer the most.

“The last thing we need is another bitter and divisive independence referendum.”

The 76-page manifesto includes pledges to end fuel poverty in Scotland by 2025, ensure mental health is tackled with the same urgency as physical health and 35 hours a week of free care from all children between nine months and starting school.

However these are devolved areas, and so would also need LibDems in power at Holyrood.

The manifesto also proposes an extra £3.4bn for the Scottish budget to use for public services, and a £10bn long term fund for infrastructure investment.

Boasting a "radical, credible and detailed plan" to tackle climate change, the party also said it wanted to reverse Tory cuts to Universal Credit and create a fairer corporate tax system.

Writing in the foreword, UK LibDem leader Jo Swinson said: “Voters are being told that the only choice is between the Conservatives and Labour. But when I look at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, I know that I could do a better job as Prime Minister than either of them.

“Our country deserves better that what is on offer from two tired old parties, each led by men who want to reuse ideas from the past - whether the 1870s or 1970s - and gamble with our children’s futures.”

With Nicola Sturgeon willing to work in a “progressive alliance” to keep Boris Johnson out of power and secure a People’s Vote, Mr Rennie was asked whether he would accept Indyref2 as the price for stopping Brexit alongside Labour and the SNP in such a scenario.

He said: “No, because we’re not wanting to add to the chaos. We want to make it stop. We want to end the constitutional chaos, and we will use our votes in parliament at every opportunity to make it stop.

“We’re not interested in putting Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn into power. We’ve made that clear. We will vote at every opportunity in parliament to make it stop and nothing will stop us doing that.

“It’s up to the other parties to explain whether they’re going to do coalitions together but don’t count on us.”

The manifesto says the election of a LibDem majority government at Westminster on a clear stop Brexit platform would be a democratic mandate to revoke Article 50 to stop Brexit.

Asked about the election of an SNP majority government at Holyrood on a clear Indyref2 platform similarly being a democratic mandate for a new vote, he said: “You’re dealing with hypotheticals on hypotheticals.”

When it was put to him the question was not far-fetched, but about a potential repeat of the Holyrood result of 2011, which led to the LibDems accepting an independence referendum, he said: “What we’re saying is, if people vote for us, this is how we’ll cast our votes in the parliament. Wherever we are, whatever opportunity we get, we will vote against another independence referendum because we want to learn the lessons, not repeat them.”

Pressed on the LibDems accepting a referendum in 2011 after an SNP majority win, he said his party’s position now was to oppose Indyref2 regardless of the election result.

He said: “We didn’t say this before 2011. We are saying very clearly - vote for us, we will vote against it at every opportunity. You can’t go into an election saying we’re going to do one thing, but if somebody else gets a certain number of seats we’re going to do something different. That’s not democracy. It’s democratic that if you vote for us, this is what you get.”

Even if the SNP won another majority in 2021, you would not accept a majority vote in the parliament? “We don’t, because we’re against it.We’re against it. I know it’s hard for people to accept that we will just follow through on what we’re saying we’re going to do, but we’re up front about it. I think the voter I spoke to last night, who I was giving an assurance that whatever the circumstances were, I would against another independence referendum, I think she might be rather upset if I did something different in the parliament.

“It’s pretty straightforward. I’m saying to people on the doorsteps. I’m saying to people on the leaflets, I’m saying to people in the manifesto, that’s what you’ll get if you vote for us.”

With Ms Swinson under fire for her record in the Tory-LibDem Coalition of 2010-15, he said the party was "rebuilding" its relationship with voters.

He said: "We’re growing. The indications are we’ve almost doubled out support just within a few years. In 2015 we had a difficult result. In 2016 we bounced straight back. We won seats back from the SNP that we’d lost. In 2017 we quadrupled the number of seats we had. And we’re set to grow again this time round.

“I think we are rebuilding with the voters that relationship because people see we are very clear with things, and we will do what we say. I think the party will go on to further success."

He cited his party's early position on stopping Brexit as an example.

“We were alone [after the 2016 vore]. People saw we were sticking to our principles and saying what we believed. Over the last three and a half years we’ve built that support. That’s why people have come with us. We stuck through thick and then even when it was unpopular. That’s why people are rebuilding that relationship with us, and why we’re growing in the polls as well.”

Asked about Ms Swinson being Prime Minister on December 13, he said he was “not a psephologist” and the voters would decide.

He said: "I’m optimistic about our opportunity to grow in this election campaign, but it’s up to the voters to decide by how much. I have confidence in Jo. I think she’s a great leader, and I think she’ll do well in this campaign."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "This Liberal Democrat manifesto reflects the fact Jo Swinson has more experience serving in a Tory government than Boris Johnson.

"It is nothing more than a re-hash of the same old ideas implemented by Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson in their time in government with the Conservatives.

“Four years on, the Lib Dems have still not come to terms with their role in imposing austerity on this country and have only empty rhetoric and the continuation of universal credit to offer the people of Scotland.

“Those who have suffered and are still suffering from the cuts imposed by the Tory-Lib Dem government won’t be fooled.

“The people of Scotland neither want nor need the Tory-lite Lib Dems. Only Labour can and will deliver the real change Scotland needs, with an additional £100 billion of investment in Scotland’s economy, public services people and communities.”