Scotland politics

European elections 2019: Parties make final pitch in Scotland

eu ballot box Image copyright Getty Images

Parties are embarking on a final day of campaigning before Scotland goes to the polls for European elections on Thursday.

The UK is taking part in the election with talks over the country's departure from the EU deadlocked at Westminster.

Scotland acts as a single constituency for the vote, electing a total of six MEPs.

Here are the key campaign messages from each party, in the order in which they will appear on the ballot paper.

Change UK

Image caption Change UK are campaigning for a new public vote on Brexit

Change UK was set up earlier in 2019 by a group of breakaway Labour and Conservative MPs, based on their common opposition to Brexit.

However, the group has had a tough start in Scotland, with two lead candidates quitting the race - one of them to endorse the Lib Dems.

The party wants a new referendum to be held on Brexit - a so-called "People's Vote" - where any exit deal negotiated by the government would be put to the public, against the alternative of the UK remaining in the EU.

Candidate Kate Forman said: "We know so much more than we did three years ago that I think people deserve to have a chance to have a look at the question again and form an answer based on more information."

Conservatives

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the UK should leave the EU "in an orderly manner"

The Scottish Conservatives would rather not be having European elections at all - the party has not even published a manifesto.

The Tories want the UK to "leave the European Union in an orderly manner", and have put opposition to a second Scottish independence referendum front and centre in campaigning.

Leader Ruth Davidson said her party would "respect the result of referendums", and would "honour the voices of millions of people who told us Scotland should stay in the UK, and that the UK should leave the EU".

She said: "It's time to move on - and only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives can ensure we do exactly that."

Labour

Image copyright PA
Image caption Richard Leonard spoke at a rally in Glasgow alongside former prime minister Gordon Brown

Labour insists that the "real divide" in the UK is not between those who voted to leave the EU and those who voted to remain within it, but between "the many and the few".

The party has backed "the option of a public vote" if a "sensible" Brexit deal cannot be agreed, and there is not a general election. Talks with the Conservatives over a cross-party exit agreement broke down on 17 May.

Scottish leader Richard Leonard said his was the only party which could see off the challenge of right-wing parties and stop the UK from leaving the EU without a deal.

He added: "Now more than ever we need greater unity, not greater division. We need the triumph of hope over fear."

Lib Dems

Image copyright PA
Image caption Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has continued his tradition of action-packed photo opportunities

The Lib Dems have put Brexit and independence at the heart of the party's manifesto for the European elections, pledging to "stop the constitutional shambles" in Scotland.

The manifesto features the words "stop Brexit" on the front cover, and promises that "every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stay in the European Union".

Scottish leader Willie Rennie said the party was also opposed to Scotland leaving the UK, saying that Brexit underlined that "breaking up long-term economic partnerships" was a "disastrous approach".

He said: "The one thing we are determined not to do is repeat the mistakes of Brexit and have another independence campaign. That would cause more damage and division to our country."

Scottish Greens

Image caption Scottish Green co-convener Maggie Chapman (right) is the party's lead candidate

The Scottish Greens have also positioned themselves as a "stop Brexit" party in a bid to win an MEP for the first time.

The party is pro-independence and wants another referendum on EU membership, but also put forward a number of manifesto pledges on environmental matters.

These include the creation of new jobs through a "Green New Deal" and work to tackle the "climate emergency".

Party co-convener and lead candidate Maggie Chapman said: "We know we have a positive message, we know Scotland wants to be a just and welcoming nation and that's what we're standing for."

SNP

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon's has backed calls for a new referendum on Brexit

The SNP insist that they are the "most consistent" opponents of Brexit among the pro-Remain parties in Scotland.

Leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was a "real chance" for Scotland to stay part of the EU.

She has backed calls for a new referendum on Brexit - or for the UK's departure from the EU to be called off if the only alternative is a no-deal exit. She also wants to have a new vote on Scottish independence before the end of the current Holyrood term in 2021.

She said: "We can stand up for Scotland's right to be heard, and we can proclaim our determination to remain a European nation. People can send a strong and resolute message: stop Brexit, and let's keep Scotland at the very heart of Europe."

The Brexit Party

Image caption The Brexit Party launched their Scottish campaign outside Holyrood

The Brexit Party was set up in 2018 and is led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. A number of other MEPs who were elected for UKIP in 2014 have joined the group.

The party has not published a manifesto, and is campaigning centrally on delivering on the result of the 2016 referendum and getting the UK out of the EU.

Lead candidate in Scotland Louis Stedman-Bryce said his group wanted to stand up for the views of Scots who voted Leave in 2016.

He said: "The forgotten one million Scots have been unrepresented. So my pitch to voters is that I want to give a voice to those one million forgotten Scots."

UKIP

Image caption Donald MacKay took over as UKIP Scotland leader from MEP David Coburn

UKIP won a seat in Scotland in the 2014 European elections, but saw MEP David Coburn quit for the Brexit Party. He has not been selected as a candidate by any party this year.

New leader Donald MacKay said UKIP's campaign was based on curbs on immigration, support for the UK union, and immediate exit from the EU.

He said: "We believe the current UK government are deliberately trying to sabotage the whole thing and making it into a much longer story than it needs to be, because deep down they don't want to leave.

"We want complete departure. Just leave."

Independent candidates

There are two independent candidates for the election, who will appear in individual boxes on the ballot paper.

One, Gordon Edgar, is currently an independent member of Scottish Borders Council.

Mr Edgar - who said he voted Remain in the EU referendum and supports Scotland remaining part of the UK - said he "could not bring myself to vote for any party so decided that people should have a better choice".

The other independent candidate, Kenneth Parke, is the managing director of a crematorium in Angus.

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