Change UK’s top European election candidate in Scotland has quit to back the Liberal Democrats ahead of next week’s EU elections, holyrood reports.
David Macdonald announced he was stepping down and instead urging people to vote for the Lib Dems, as he argued that the party was “now the most likely” outfit to stand a chance of getting an MEP elected north of the Border.
The defection is a fresh headache for Change UK, which only selected Macdonald as its lead candidate for Scotland after another contender was forced to pull out over controversial social media posts.
Independent councillor Macdonald said it had been “an honour” to be selected for Change UK, but that the switch was consistent with campaigning for “a new type of politics”.
“After a great deal of reflection on the political landscape we are facing in Scotland at present, I have come to the point where I have realised that I must do what is best for the future of this country before anything else,” he said.
“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.
“For that reason I have decided to end my candidacy for Change UK effective immediately. I am now calling for those in favour of remaining in the European Union, including all supporters of Change UK in Scotland, to do what is best for our collective voice in Europe and to support the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the upcoming European election to better ensure that they gain representation and secure a seat in these European elections.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie thanked Macdonald for his support.
“This will have been a difficult decision for David as he clearly admires those in Change UK as do I,” he said.
“David has recognised the emerging political landscape and rightly felt he had to act to unite the remain vote behind the Liberal Democrats.
“I invite each and every person across Scotland who wants to stop Brexit, no matter where their political loyalties have lain before, to lend their vote to the Liberal Democrats and fight for a positive future inside the EU.”
Responding, Change UK spokesperson Chuka Umunna 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 the former Labour MP said the new party would keep “focusing all our efforts on adding to the Remain vote in the UK and challenging the pro-Brexit Tory, Brexit and Labour parties”.
Macdonald will still appear at the top of the Change UK list on the ballot paper next Thursday.