The operators of Scotland’s most famous steam train have blasted a Nigel Farage-led political group for using it to promote Brexit.
An image of the Jacobite crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct is emblazoned across the cover of a Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group leaflet under the slogan “What Scotland Really Thinks About the EU”.
The leaflet refers to an EFDD poll which “found that the Scottish public remains uncomfortable with the level of interference that the European Union has in Scotland and does not want it to have any more control over Scottish laws than it already does”.
The four-page A4 advert was delivered to some Scottish homes last week.
Its text contained no reference to the train or picture, whose use the group justified as “a well-known image of the breadth and beauty of Scotland”.
Farage is president of the EFDD, a European Parliament group led by his Brexit Party.
The move has upset West Coast Railways, which runs the Jacobite between Fort William and Mallaig and attracts thousands of Harry Potter fans every summer.
Its spokesman said: “We certainly never gave permission for the Jacobite to be used in support of this campaign.
“I think the EFDD have gone rather off track here. In fact, I’d say they are completely on the wrong lines, and this poster is about to hit the buffers.
“We suspect Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite chums might have taken a claymore to this Sassenach bunch.”
The rail firm also sought to distance the train from the group’s anti-EU views.
Its spokesman said: “Have these people gone loco? Of course, it is very flattering that they consider the Jacobite such an instantly recognisable, well-loved symbol of all that is good about Scotland.
“We would certainly agree with them over that. Our train is indeed as Scottish as bagpipes, haggis or a very fine malt whisky.
“But the Jacobite certainly has no intention of steaming out of Europe – it only ever runs, twice a day, between Fort William and Mallaig.
“And we certainly don’t say ‘No’ to the euro. If that’s the currency passengers want to use to buy their tickets, then that is absolutely fine with us.”
The Friends of the West Highland Lines were equally bemused.
Chairman Doug Carmichael said: “It’s a somewhat strange choice of picture for this political message, but the fact the Glenfinnan viaduct has been chosen shows the importance and attraction of the line and the ever-romantic scene of steam trains.”
The EFDD group said it was time to “step off the EU train”.
Spokesman Hermann Kelly said: “I’m a bit of a Jacobite myself, who spent six years in Scotland, enjoying my time in the beautiful Highlands, even having time to play a bit of shinty after having learned my skills playing hurling in Ireland as a fellow Gael.
“I am ‘steaming loco’ myself to leave the EU train, which is heading towards the destination of a centralised EU state which has complete political and economic control over the people of Scotland.
“Let’s step off the EU train, and enjoy the fresh air and rich history of the bounteous landscape inhabited by the Scottish people instead.”