Willie Rennie has said the Scottish Lib Dems are aiming at securing new seats in every corner of the country, as they seek to prevent an SNP majority at Holyrood.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said new polls showed his party was on the brink of making gains in Thursday’s Holyrood election.

While it seems certain Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP will emerge from that ballot as the largest party, polls are less clear about whether the First Minister will get the majority she is seeking to pursue a second Scottish independence referendum.

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Mr Rennie said: “At this election I want to secure new seats in every corner of Scotland, from the Borders to the Highlands, and prevent a nationalist majority.”

All the parties are fighting hard to win seats on the regional list ballot, and Mr Rennie said: “By voting for Liberal Democrat MSPs on the list, voters can help us cross the finish line and ensure that the next Parliament is packed with MSPs who will focus on education, mental health and the climate emergency, not another independence referendum.

“The peach ballot paper is a proportional voting system so every vote counts to put recovery first.”

His comments came after he insisted his party would “make the difference” between a Holyrood parliament focused on recovery rather than an independence referendum.

Mr Rennie claimed previous SNP and independence supporters were switching to his party as they “recognise” now is not the time for a referendum, with coronavirus still damaging the country.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “It’s the Liberal Democrat seats in this election that will make the difference between the parliament being focused on recovery, which the Liberal Democrats want, and the parliament being focused on independence, which is what the SNP want.

“I never put any limits on the number of seats that we’re going for.

“I just know we’re going to grow with the number of seats that we’re going to gain in every part of Scotland.

“If you want to put recovery first, then you need to vote for the Liberal Democrats in every corner of Scotland.”

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The Scottish Lib Dem leader claimed he would vote against holding another referendum even if the SNP win a majority at the Holyrood election on Thursday.

He said it was “very democratic” because that is the position his voters were backing.

Mr Rennie added: “I’m against another referendum because I think it will distract the country at a time they need to build recovery.

“If people vote for me on the basis that I’m clear – crystal clear – in an election campaign, it would be bizarre if I did the opposite after the election.”