Minister `offered to back vote on Brexit deal if Lib…

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A Scottish Cabinet Secretary offered to back a referendum on the final Brexit deal if the Liberal Democrats supported Scottish independence, MSPs have heard.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the issue emerged in talks he held with Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell.

Speaking in the chamber at the Scottish Parliament, Mr Rennie said: “He and I have had talks on several occasions.

“To be brutal, what he wants is he wants me to back independence if he backs a people’s vote on Brexit. That’s what he’s trying to get to and that is not going to happen.

“So the Cabinet Secretary has a decision to make. Will he sit on the sidelines or will he get behind the best chance of stopping Brexit, which is a people’s vote?”

Mr Russell replied he had been listening to “more reasonable and more sensible voices” arguing for a people’s vote than that of Mr Rennie.

He said: “I did note that his party leader… Vince Cable, at the start of the Liberal Democrat conference, demanded the SNP back the people’s vote but also demanded that the people of Scotland should never be allowed to support independence again.

“That is no way to win friends and influence people.”

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