WILLIE Rennie is not convinced pro-independence parties will be able to secure a supermajority after May's Holyrood election – pointing to what the Lib Dems leader labelled a “steady decline in support” for breaking up the Union.

Mr Rennie has insisted he is “not interested in coalitions” with either the Conservatives or Labour to remove the SNP from power and is instead focusing on bolstering support for the Liberal Democrats.

In an increasingly crowded market for winning unionist votes, Mr Rennie believes his party are instead winning over disgruntled SNP voters.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists' Association, Mr Rennie said: “We’re finding that we’re getting people moving over from the SNP for the first time for years.

“People are sick, fed up of all the arguments and are moving over to us.”

Despite a stark Sunday Times poll indicating the SNP, the Alba Party and the Greens could secure a supermajority in favour of independence, the Lib Dem leader said bickering and in-fighting within the independence movement was putting off voters.

He said: “I think the more people see the arguments between all the different factions of the nationalist movement, I think the more they will want progressive change, an alternative to what’s been on offer for the last few years.

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“It’s a dismal prospect to have all of those arguments carrying on for another five years.”

Mr Rennie added: “What we have seen is a steady decline in support for independence.

“I think that will continue the more we see the dreadful prospect perhaps coming real of Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon – the forever arguments between the different factions of the nationalist movement.

“I think support for them will go down so therefore I don’t think this will come to reality. I think it’s looking less likely now than it was even a few weeks ago.

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“What the polls are hiding is a softness in the SNP vote that I’ve not seen for years. They have not moved yet but they are ready to move and we are opening the door for them.”

Recent polls have indicated that the Scottish Lib Dems are struggling to increase support.

But Mr Rennie has insisted that “the campaign is going better than we could have imagined”. He pointed to his party having a “real distinctiveness” on important issues like mental health and education.

Mr Rennie added: “I think we’ve got a clear, positive message – it's very powerful – of put recovery first.”

Tory leader Douglas Ross had proposed Mr Rennie and Labour leader Anas Sarwar join forces with him in a bid to secure a unionist coalition.

But both Mr Sarwar and Mr Rennie have rejected any sort of pact with the Conservative leader.

Mr Rennie has suggested that the Conservatives are contributing to the success of the SNP, adding that “Douglas (Ross) is part of the problem, not part of the solution”.

HeraldScotland: Scottish Conservative leader Douglas RossScottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross

He added: “The Conservatives have been one of the drivers for people looking for an alternative – whereas I think people are looking for a fresh progressive, alternative to the SNP.

“You don’t achieve that by hooking up by the Conservatives. We are trying to reach out and attract more people who are contemplating the SNP and independence – we won’t do that by hooking up with the Conservatives.”

The Lib Dem leader added that Mr Ross’s campaign “has been dark and negative”.

He said: “If we’re going to change Scottish politics, it’s going to have to be a progressive alternative to the SNP – not a Conservative alternative. That’s why we’re saying no.

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“He’s got no interest in reaching out to new groups of voters whereas I have and I think Anas has as well. That will be the way to make sure not only do we get an alternative government to the SNP but we also avoid the break-up of the United Kingdom.”

Despite the stuttering polling, Mr Rennie stressed his ambition is “to get more Liberal Democrats elected so we can have a bigger influence in Parliament”.

He added: “I’m not interested in coalitions – I've made that abundantly clear.

“I’m interested in having a bigger say and a bigger influence in the Parliament and that’s the way I think Liberal Democrats can best exercise the influence and the trust that voters give us.”