THE LEADER of the Liberal Democrats has vowed to “strain every sinew” to stop the SNP from winning at the Holyrood elections.

Sir Ed Davey also urged the Scottish and UK Government to focus “laser beam-like” on tackling the virus and stop bickering about the constitution.

The MP spoke to The Herald ahead of the party’s annual conference which starts today, and emphasised the need for both governments to crack down on coronavirus spreading further across the country.

Sir Ed said that the Scottish Liberal Democrats would be fighting tooth and nail to stop the SNP in the lead up to the Holyrood vote in May next year.

When asked if he believed an SNP majority would mean a mandate for another referendum, he said: “Let me first of all tell you my view. The Liberal Democrats under Willie Rennie’s leadership in Scotland will strain every sinew to stop the SNP winning.

“We’ll be working across Scotland, and campaign on a platform of opposing that second referendum.”

He said the election campaign should not be about the constitution, and insetad should be focused on helping the country recover from the pandemic.

He explained: “We are going to argue that this election shouldn’t be about this constitutional distraction. It should be about the economic crisis, it should be about health. It should be about the appalling record of the Scottish Government on things like mental health which we’ve championed, highlighting the standards in our schools where Scotland’s gone down the PISA tables.

“Internationally Scotland has fallen back under the SNP.”

The new party leader has recently gone on a “listening tour” of the UK to try to find out what is of concern to voters, and how they could be encouraged to vote for his party.

From those he has spoken to, he said, it is clear people do not want to hear about constitutional issues or Brexit.

He said: “Whether its the First Minister or the Prime Minister, you’ve got to put the people of Scotland first. And that means working together. despite your differences. It means stop getting focussed on distractions like constitutional debates and Brexit,.

“There is a crisis. In fact, two - a health crisis and economic crisis like no one’s ever seen before, the scale of it, magnitude of it is, is hitting people’s lives.

“People are losing their lives, losing their livelihoods, people losing their businesses.”

“I argued very strongly with Brexit that we should have sought an extension to transition, and I’d say that in terms of the Scottish situation. I just wish that they’d focus laser beam -like, learn the lessons, get out of the second wave. They should be not allowing anything to distract them.

“I just get a sense from SNP MPs and from from talking to people in Scotland that they are allowing themselves to be distracted and I think that’s pretty damaging actually.”