SCOTTISH Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has revealed he has been trying to persuade former MP Jo Swinson to run for Holyrood.

The former UK party leader lost her Westminster seat to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan in one of the biggest upsets of last year’s General Election.

Rennie said he has spoken to the former East Dunbartonshire MP in an attempt to bring her into his Holyrood cohort.

However she has yet to make a decision on her future, he said.

Earlier this year it was reported Swinson would be selected in Rennie’s North East Fife seat and he would step down as an MSP and leader of the party.

However rejecting most of the claims of the story, Rennie said he is trying to entice the former leader to run for Holyrood in next year’s election.

He said: “I would love to see Jo come to the Scottish Parliament, I think she’s talented.

“I was keen to encourage her to stay involved and for her to consider the Scottish Parliament as one of those options.

“She’s not made her mind up about that but I think she’s talented and would be great to have.It’s too early for her to leave the political scene – I hope she does do it.”

Commenting on his own tenure, Rennie said he had no intention of standing down after nine years at the head of the party.

He said: “Anybody who has been leader for nine years would look at a 10-year period to look at what they’re going to do next.

“But I’ve got no intention of standing down.

“This is a big opportunity, for somebody who has been around in politics for a while now, just to try to shape things to be a little bit different.”

Referring to his regular comic campaign trail photo opportunities with numerous animals, he joked: “I’ve got a lot more animals to meet, once they let me into the zoo there’s going to be years of election photos.”

When asked to reflect on his time as leader, which has involved two Holyrood elections, three General Elections and two referendums, Rennie said: “Of course there’s things that you would do differently.

“I’ve had spats with the party at times over things like fracking and I’ve had spats externally with others that I wish I hadn’t had. But generally, the growth of the party following the coalition and keeping the party steady during the coalition, I’m actually quite satisfied with.”

Swinson was elected as the first female leader of the UK LibDems in July.

But she quit following a poor performance at the ballot box in December, with the party only securing 11 seats overall.

It followed a campaign during which she repeatedly said she was looking to be the next prime minister – while polling found she became less popular with voters as her visibility increased.

Questions were raised over the party’s tactics, including the hardline stance adopted over Brexit, pledging to revoke the Article 50 process if elected.

Swinson lost her seat to Callaghan, who was standing as a candidate for the first time, and overturned her majority of 5339 from the 2017 General Election to win by 149 votes.

The party’s leadership contest to elect a successor to Swinson has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The process had been due to begin in May, with the winner in place by July.

However as the scale of the coronavirus crisis became apparent last month, it was announced the party’s federal board had decided to postpone the election until May 2021.