The founder of English Scots for Yes has hit back at Willie Rennie's comments after he accused the First Minister of an "anti-English rhetoric" 

Dumbarton SNP Nominee for candidacy Math Campbell-Sturgess responded to the accusations of the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader.

Sturgess, who was born and raised in England, but is campaigning to be the candidate for the SNP in Dumbarton for the Holyrood elections said: "Mr. Rennie’s comments are utterly unacceptable.

READ MORE: Willie Rennie hits out at "anti-English rhetoric" around Coronavirus briefings

"For him to try and politicise the pandemic to attack the First Minister and the SNP and suggest we're anti-English is irresponsible and demonstrably wrong - I was born and raised in England and I'm in the running to be an SNP candidate in Dumbarton.

"This type of attack on the SNP and independence movement is not uncommon. I founded English Scots for YES in 2014 - a group for fellow English-born independence supporters - partly to combat these tireless attempts to smear the SNP as Anglophobic, which we categorically are not."

He added: "At a time when we are all trying to pull together work together to defeat this terrible virus, Willie Rennie’s comments are as ill-judged as they are incorrect.

"He should apologise not only to the First Minister but also to English Scots here in Scotland, who are fed up of people like Rennie who should know better, trying to use us like pawns in a game of chess for the Union."

Yesterday, Willie Rennie said: “Anti-English rhetoric has reared its ugly head at different points throughout this crisis and there is no place for it.

“Parts of Scotland have some of the worst rates of coronavirus across the UK. To claim any kind of exceptionalism is misjudged. People will not look kindly on ministers wildly searching around to apportion blame.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter: Tories will ensure Covid-19 will be paid for by the people least affected: the young

“Blaming England without evidence is a desperate attempt to deflect from the responsibility the Scottish Government bears for not preparing well for the second wave. Blaming others for our own weakness is not something we should be hearing during a global pandemic.

“This government has squandered valuable time over the summer months when the virus had abated."

“It needs to make a step-change to Scotland’s test and trace capacity and the efficiency of contact tracing interviews. This is all within the First Minister’s control."

It comes as 1,433 cases of Covid were recorded in Scotland in the last 24 hours with 11 deaths.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: 1,433 new cases of Covid reported with 11 deaths reported in 24 hours

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We all want to eliminate this virus as much as possible and that means reducing transmission by avoiding travel to and from high-risk areas, a position all governments in the UK have taken.

“We will always be guided by the best and most up-to-date expert scientific advice and that includes asking residents of high-risk areas within Scotland to avoid non-essential travel, for example when local restrictions were in place in Dumfries and Galloway or Aberdeen.”

Campbell-Sturgess will go up against Karen Conaghan, Lorna Douglas, Toni Giugliano, Sid Khan, Scott Lafferty and Robert Thompson who are all hoping to be the nominee for Dumbarton. 

The SNP has been contacted for comment on the statement from Willie Rennie.