Why Remain-voting Scotland will simply be ignored again – Ian Swanson

Even if the SNP win big in the European Parliament elections, England will give a different verdict, writes Ian Swanson.

Even if the SNP win big in the European Parliament elections, England will give a different verdict, writes Ian Swanson.

Thursday’s European Parliament elections are getting more attention than any previous Euro poll in this country – despite the fact the UK was never meant to be ­taking part and those elected might only serve for a few months.

It looks as if the results – which won’t be announced until Sunday, once voting finishes throughout the EU – will produce more than a few upsets.

Polls over the last few days show Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party clearly in the lead at UK level with the Tories reduced in some cases to less than 10 per cent while the Liberal Democrats and the Greens are also doing well.

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In Scotland, the polls suggest the SNP is well ahead and on course to increase its representation from two MEPs to three.

One weekend survey had the SNP on 38 per cent, with the Brexit Party in second place on 20 per cent, followed by the Greens on 11 per cent, Labour and the Tories both on 10 per cent and Lib Dems on seven per cent.

It looks like the Tories are being punished for the mess which they have made of Brexit and Labour is suffering too because of its mixed messages.

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But, despite the hype back in February surrounding the defection of eight Labour MPs and three Conservatives for form Change UK, the new party is currently on just two per cent support in Scotland, alongside Ukip, ­according to this poll – and not doing much ­better across the UK. The result of Thursday’s vote will almost inevitably be interpreted as a proxy referendum on whether the great British public still wants to leave the UK or has changed its mind and would rather remain.

The SNP is benefiting from its firm support for Remain – though even the Nationalists have a pro-Leave element, including former deputy leader Jim Sillars who says he won’t be voting SNP this time.

It seems certain that Scotland and England will give very different verdicts again – and that, just as after the 2016 vote, Scotland’s opinion will effectively be ignored.

But Labour’s David Martin – the UK’s longest-serving MEP – has urged voters not to treat the election as a referendum, pointing out that it is perfectly possible that the MEPs chosen this week will find themselves in Brussels and Strasbourg for a full five-year term.

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Theresa May’s expected departure from Downing Street in the next few weeks or months makes any ­serious prospect of resolving the Brexit impasse any time soon even more unlikely than before. Everyone is ­waiting to see who will succeed her and guessing what new approach might be adopted then.

But the EU has made it clear that a change of leadership in the UK will not mean reopening the withdrawal agreement.

If Boris Johnson, the current ­favourite, becomes the new Tory leader and Prime Minister, pundits have warned that a no-deal Brexit is more likely.

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Nevertheless, David Martin, a strong Remain supporter, still hopes Brexit may never happen.

He told a cross-party hustings meeting in Edinburgh: “One of the things that always encourages me is Western Australia, who voted in 1933 in a referendum and a parliamentary vote to leave the federal state of ­Australia – and they’re still there because they couldn’t find a way of implementing it. I’d be very happy if that’s what happened in the UK.”