The Liberal Democrats have said they are “disappointed” after one of their former provosts announced her support for an SNP candidate.
Fife’s first woman provost, Frances Melville, has said she intends to vote for incumbent Stephen Gethins at the general election set to be held on December 12.
Mr Gethins narrowly won his seat at the most recent election over Lib Dem candidate Elizabeth Riches in 2017. The margin of two votes made it the closest contest in the UK.
Ms Melville, who had served as a Lib Dem councillor for St Andrews and Strathkinness ward since 1990, revealed she was voting SNP at the next election rather than the party she had represented.
The Scottish Lib Dems said Ms Melville had not been politically active recently but her decision would be disappointing to those who had campaigned on her behalf.
Ms Melville said: “I will be voting for Stephen Gethins who, in my opinion, is the best candidate before us.
“As an MP for the last four years, Stephen has fought tirelessly for North East Fife and has succeeded in bringing others together across the political divide to oppose Brexit and the damage being done by Boris Johnson’s out of control government.
“At this critical time, we need someone with his experience and approach for the good of everyone here. People need to understand just how important membership of the EU is to North East Fife and Scotland as a whole.”
Mr Gethins said: “I am very grateful to Frances for her support, she is someone who has worked incredibly hard locally and is well respected across the political spectrum.
“Like many who have previously voted Liberal Democrat in this area, Frances has seen how hard SNP MPs at Westminster have worked to be the most effective pro-remain party.”
He said more and more Liberal Democrat voters in the region were voting SNP for the first time.
“North East Fife voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU and since the result in June 2016, I have worked hard to represent these views and stand up for this area, doing what I can to prevent a disastrous No-Deal Brexit which will be damaging to the whole of the UK,” he said.
“It will impact on local businesses including those involved in our important food and drink industry, as well as our universities, which not only provide vital employment, but are at the forefront of ground-breaking research into diseases like dementia and diabetes.”
A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “Frances Melville has not been politically active for several years. Nevertheless this will be a disappointing intervention to many who worked hard and campaigned on her behalf in the past.
“What North East Fife needs is an MP who will stand up for our place in the EU, not one who will pile chaos on chaos with independence.”
Earlier this year Conservative minister Michael Gove claimed the Conservatives could take the seat ahead of the SNP and Lib Dems.
Former candidate Councillor Tony Miklinski was 3,653 votes behind in 2017.
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