THE leaders of Scottish Labour and the LibDems have said they are open to working together “on issues of common interest” to win over SNP and Conservatives voters.

Willie Rennie, who will soon leave his post as LibDem leader, said voters in “middle Scotland” should be offered an alternative to Scottish and British nationalism.

He said he has a strong relationship with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and shares many of his opinions. Sarwar said last night he was open to working with Rennie.

Rennie told The Times: “I think working together with Labour on issues of common interest would be a good thing.

“I wouldn’t run before we can walk. But [it would] build confidence between the parties and also amongst the electorate to show we’re getting our act together.”

WATCH: Willie Rennie steps down as Scottish LibDem leader

Rennie said he believes many Scots on the centre-left tactically voted for the LibDems to keep out “the other side”, rather than supporting the party’s policies. The LibDems currently have four MSPs while Labour have 22.

Rennie went on: “This is about trying to show that for middle Scotland there is something better and stronger than the Conservatives or the SNP, that it’s got energy, it’s got momentum, it’s got ideas, and that’s the most important thing, so people know that if they vote for it, it will be worth it.

“The actual mechanism is less important – it’s the energy behind it that matters.”

The LibDem leader went on to praise Sarwar’s leadership since his election in February. “They can hold their heads up, which is a good thing, and you can see that he and I got along very well during the election campaign,” he added. “In fact we were saying very much the same things.”

Figures from the SNP and the Greens have said they would be open to a similar deal but the prospect of a formal coalition has been ruled out. In May, Nicola Sturgeon announced the prospect of a “co-operation agreement” with Green MSPs, which could mean senior figures such as Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, the party’s co-leaders, taking up ministerial posts.

But the decision to open talks has upset some senior SNP members who fear that Green policies such as phasing out North Sea oil and gas risk weakening the SNP’s fragile grip in the north east of Scotland.

READ MORE: SNP leadership face rebellion over co-operation agreement talks with Scottish Greens

Sarwar said: “I’m focused on what unites our country and have said since I took this job that I’d work with anyone who has the will to make Scotland a better place,” Sarwar said. “This isn’t about pacts or deals but about showing the people of Scotland that another type of politics is possible.”

The early favourite to replace Rennie as LibDem leader is Alex Cole-Hamilton, the party's health spokesman at Holyrood, who won Edinburgh Western with more than 25,000 votes, the highest number ever cast for a single candidate in Scottish parliamentary elections The party's executive committee will meet on Monday night to formalise the election process, with the aim of having a new leader in charge by the time Holyrood resumes in September after the summer recess.