A Brussels light display shared by SNP leaders inferring the EU had “left a light on for Scotland” was set up by the party as a stunt, it has been claimed.
As the UK edged closer to leaving the EU on Friday January 31, a message appeared on the side of the EC Berlaymont building which had Scotland and Europe intersected at the shared letter O, which had been turned into a love heart.
This was very sneaky of the SNP to let people think that the European Commission was sending a message about Scottish independence.”
— Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie
It followed a social media campaign encouraged by departing SNP MEPs for the EU to “leave a light on” for Scotland, in the event the country votes for independence and applies to become a member of the EU.
The party has refused to comment on how much the illuminations cost, but the Scottish Government confirmed it was not responsible for the projections.
The UK left the EU officially on January 31 at 11pm, although is currently in a transition period meaning trade and travel arrangements remain at the status quo until January 1 2021.
The EU Commission building in Brussels tonight (and if you look carefully you’ll see that they do appear to have left a light on for us!) 🏴❤️🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/KMmUvJsKn4
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 31, 2020
But an EC source told The Courier there was “no way” commissioners or employees at the building would have projected the image.
They added: “From what I understand, the message was paid for and organised by the SNP and projected from a room above a popular pub which sits across from the building.
“It has caused quite a stir in Brussels regardless, coupled with comments made by commissioners and UK MPs the weekend after.”
Scottish firm Double Take productions confirmed they were commissioned to project the image on the side of the building.
A spokesperson for the company added: “We were commissioned by our client to project the image on to the side of the Berlaymont on Friday evening.
“We are an impartial company, who work with a range of clients from across the political spectrum.”
The Double Take website hosts images of work commissioned by the company, including SNP banners, pro-union Scotland In Union advertisements and Vote Remain projections, which have been screened on to prominent landmarks across the country.
Glenrothes SNP MP Peter Grant tweeted: “What a strange thing to do for a European Commission that Labour and the Tories say doesn’t want Scotland back in.”
What a strange thing to do for a European Commission that Labour and the Tories say doesn't want Scotland back in. https://t.co/lPGzy7uWrU
— Peter Grant MP (@PeterGrantMP) February 1, 2020
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted the image and said: “The EU Commission building in Brussels tonight (and if you look carefully you’ll see that they do appear to have left a light on for us!)”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “This was very sneaky of the SNP to let people think that the European Commission was sending a message about Scottish independence.
“Perhaps if the SNP spent a little more time on the NHS than gags like this then more people would get the treatment they needed on time.”
The Scottish Government projected lights on to St Andrews House and Victoria Quay on “Brexit day”.
A spokesperson added: “St Andrew’s House and Victoria Quay were lit blue and yellow overnight on January 31 and in rainbow colours from February 1 to mark the start of LGBT History Month.
“These buildings are routinely lit at night and there are no additional costs involved in changing the colours.”
The SNP was asked to comment but failed to respond.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU and a number of small-scale vigils were held across the country on January 31 to mark the country’s departure.
Other parts of the UK held pro-Brexit rallies as the clock struck 11pm, including in Belfast and London.
Crowds gathered in the UK capital to hear from Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who told the hundreds or so gathered “Brexit is Britain’s greatest modern moment”.