THE LibDem’s UK leader Sir Ed Davey labelled the push for Scottish independence a “distraction” and praised Willie Rennie for giving the party a “real possibility of gaining momentum” at next year’s Holyrood election.

Visiting Scotland today as part of his nationwide "listening tour", Davey visited Fife Zoo to meet owners and staff, as well as taking part in a socially-distanced canvassing session.

Asked if he would listen if Scots tell him they want independence, Davey said he thought people will find the constitutional arguments a "distraction" - if they are even talking about them at all.

He said: "I think even the strongest proponents of independence would say ‘let's focus on the things that matter, let's not get extra disruptions or distractions'.

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"I genuinely think Scottish people from all sides of the question on independence will say 'this is not the time for constitutional questions, now is the time for helping people who are in distress, businesses that are in distress and people who are facing the loss of loved ones'.”

On the party's opposition to another independence referendum, he said: "The Liberal Democrats' policy on independence is set by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and always will be under my leadership.

"I know that they believe that Scotland is better in the family of nations."

Davey also compared the issue to the "self-indulgent" UK Government pushing to get a Brexit deal before January and not seeking an extension "when we've got one hell of a fight on our hands" because of coronavirus.

He went on to say that the "laserbeam-like focus" of Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie on the impact of coronavirus and the recovery could pay dividends.

"I think the other Unionist parties are not as strong as they've been in the run up to previous Holyrood elections and I think we have a real possibility of gaining momentum," Davey said.

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Recent polling, conducted between September 2 and 7, predicted the LibDems would win eight Holyrood seats, making them the smallest party in the Scottish parliament.

Davey also spoke about Brexit, saying his party had resigned themselves to it happening but fiercely opposed the prospect of No-Deal.

The new leader added that he expects Boris Johnson to reach an agreement with the EU.

"Johnson and [Dominic] Cummings are the arch distractors," Davey said.

"They play their little games, distracting people with the prorogation of Parliament, battling with the Supreme Court and it's all distraction."

He suggested the Prime Minister is going to "work everyone up into a frenzy" so the public is "relieved" when a deal is announced.