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Four sleeps to go… Parties fear Brexit-fatigued voters will shun European elections

© Jane Barlow / PA WireNicola Sturgeon leads Alyn Smith MEP and Deirdre Brock MP across the road while out campaigning yesterday
Nicola Sturgeon leads Alyn Smith MEP and Deirdre Brock MP across the road while out campaigning yesterday

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday warned the “worst-case” scenario of a no-deal Brexit is increasingly likely as parties entered the final days of campaigning for the European elections.

The First Minister was in Edinburgh to urge voters to back the SNP and send the “strongest possible message” that Scotland wants to stop Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon said the collapse in talks between the Tories and Labour over a compromise Brexit deal and the internal divisions in both parties is increasing the danger of a no deal Brexit.

She said: “With Theresa May further away than ever from agreeing a deal, that worst-case scenario is becoming more and more likely.

“Scotland did not vote for this – and Scottish families can’t be forced to accept a hit to their household incomes.

“It’s not a price worth paying to save Theresa May’s blushes.”

Ms Sturgeon shrugged off a week of speculation surrounding in-fighting at the top of her party to hit the campaign trail as the other major parties maintained a low profile with polls suggesting both Labour and the Conservatives are facing heavy losses.

Scotland’s six MEPs currently include two SNP, two Labour, one Conservative and one Ukip.

The latest YouGov poll predicted Nigel Farage’s Brexit party is on course to win two seats in Scotland, with the SNP expected to pick up three.

It suggested the Conservatives and Labour could be squeezed out of representation in the European Parliament, with the final seat going to the Liberal Democrats or the Greens.

Leading polling expert Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said these results indicated the broad direction of travel for the parties.

He predicted the SNP is on course to win three seats and the Brexit Party one – with the other two seats still open to being taken by almost any of the other parties.

He said: “The most distinctive thing about Scotland is the strength of the SNP – there is no reason to believe it has been significantly challenged by the past two weeks.

“There is good reason to believe that probably the Conservative and the Labour party have been losing ground in Scotland in much the same way they have been losing ground elsewhere.”

He added: “It has been fairly clear that the Lib Dems have been not massively eroding the Labour vote but eating away at it a bit.

“Whether they are going to do well enough to pick up one of the seats is unknown.

“Change UK is going nowhere.

“The SNP on three seats, with the Brexit Party probably on one is the safest bet, with the last two up for grabs.”

Yesterday Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson admitted the polls were “not looking good”.

She is understood to be joining the campaign trail this weekend, but not taking part in any high profile events.

The party’s lead candidate in the European elections, Baroness Nosheena Mobarik said: “Anyone who wants Scotland to come back together and put referendums behind us should vote for the Scottish Conservatives.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who joined activists on the campaign trail yesterday afternoon, said in a message to voters if it couldn’t get substantial changes made to the current Brexit deal, or a General Election, then the party backed a second EU vote.

He added: “If voters sit this election out we risk allowing the far-right to win seats.”

In a message to supporters Alex Cole-Hamilton, campaign chair of Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “I have been meeting people who have never voted for us before – not even in the surge after the Iraq war.

“When Vince Cable visited South Queensferry on Thursday people came out of houses and shops to meet him. It was a real buzz that we haven’t experienced for years.”