It is time for the Liberal Democrats to have a woman as leader of the party, Willie Rennie has said.
The leader of the Scottish Lib Dems made the comments as he announced his backing for Jo Swinson to succeed Vince Cable.
Nominations for the party’s leadership contest closed on Friday, with current deputy leader Ms Swinson and former Cabinet minister Sir Ed Davey confirmed as the two candidates standing.
If elected as leader, the East Dunbartonshire MP would become the first woman to lead the party.
In a video posted on Twitter on Friday, Mr Rennie praised the work of Ms Swinson and outlined his support for her leadership bid.
“I’m backing Jo Swinson to be leader of the Liberal Democrats,” he said.
“It’s time for a woman to lead our party but there are many more great reasons to back Jo Swinson.
“Sometimes it’s a battle to get the best media coverage for the party so we need a leader who has the skills necessary to be heard loudly.
“Jo is an excellent communicator and she’ll be a fantastic champion to take on the forces of nationalism and populism.”
He added: “Jo is a fantastic campaigner, who showed the determination and campaigning skill the party needs when she won her seat back from the SNP, and I’m excited to see how she brings all that energy and hard work to the role of the leader of our party.”
Ms Swinson said: “I’m delighted to be standing to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.
“Our politics is fracturing and I believe the country is crying out for a liberal movement that can stand up to the forces of nationalism and populism.
“I want to lead the Liberal Democrats so that we are at the heart of that movement and reach out to the millions of people who share our values and want an alternative to the hard-right Tories and hard-left Labour.”
After entering the race, Sir Ed said: “Under my leadership, the Lib Dems will continue to lead the fight to stop Brexit, nothing is more urgent in British politics today.”
Members of the party will be able to vote for their preferred candidate for leader from 9.30am on July 1.