All change for Euro candidate

15 May 2019, 12:28 | Updated: 15 May 2019, 12:33

Change UK

Anti-Brexit party Change UK has lost its lead candidate in Scotland for next week's European elections.

David Macdonald announced he was ending his candidacy immediately, as he urged voters to back the Liberal Democrats in a bid to keep Britain in the European Union.

With the Lib Dems, SNP and Greens all campaiging on an anti-Brexit ticket in the May 26 ballot, Mr Macdonald fears the Remain vote north of the border could be "diluted", giving Nigel Farage's
Brexit Party the chance to get an MEP in Scotland.

Mr Macdonald, an independent councillor in East Renfrewshire, has written to Anna Soubry of Change UK, renouncing his candidacy "without animosity or rancour".

He said he had campaigned "passionately" for Change UK over the last three weeks, but stated: "I have made the decision at this course to stand down as a candidate for change UK and voice my support for the Liberal Democrats."

And while he insisted Change UK could still be a "force for good" in politics , he added: "I have come to the point where I have realised I must do what is best for the future of this country before anything else."

Speaking outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Mr Macdonald stated: "For me it was just purely about the mathematics of this, we're looking at a very different political landscape in Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

"We have a much more diluted Remain vote in Scotland, and its become very apparent close to these elections that we are in grave danger of splitting this vote and it is very clear to me now that we need to shore up the remain vote and get behind the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

"They are the force in politics in Scotland that are the clear voice for ending Brexit and for us remaining in the European Union."

He added: "There comes a point in politics where you realise you have go to do something for the greater good."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie welcomed the decision - which comes after postal votes for the European elections have already been sent out.

Mr Rennie said: "I am grateful for the step David has taken.

"I know it is not easy making this decision, it was difficult, and he has been considering it for quite some time.

"I think this gives us a real opportunity to send a message across Scotland that if you want to stop Brexit you need to vote Liberal Democrat."

Mr Macdonald added: "If things continue as they are the remain vote will split in Scotland and put at risk the representation that supporters of remaining in the European Union so collectively desire."

Change UK spokesman Chuka Umuna said: "It is obviously disappointing that this candidate has chosen to pledge allegiance to another party - he has let down his fellow candidates and activists.

"But we are focusing all our efforts on adding to the Remain vote in the UK and challenging the pro-Brexit Tory, Brexit and Labour parties, which is why our leader challenged Nigel Farage to a live TV debate this week.

"In the past 24 hours Labour's former head of campaigns for the north of England has come out for Change UK, as have many former Labour voters.

"Winning voters over from the main parties and growing the Remain vote across the UK will continue to be our focus."