ORGANISERS of a massive Rejoin the EU march and rally at Westminster on September 23 have urged as many Scots as possible to head south to make their presence felt and send a strong message to England’s political leaders – in particular Labour’s Keir Starmer.

Starmer did not reply to an invitation from the grassroots National Rejoin Movement (NRM) to speak at its second annual rally in Parliament Square and has, according to Labour sources quoted in The New European newspaper, “ordered his frontbenchers to steer well clear of the event”.

However, there seems certain to be a sizeable Scottish contingent involved in the campaign group’s big showpiece aimed at shifting UK public opinion further towards the policy of rejoining the European Union – the exact opposite of Starmer’s “Make Brexit Work” slogan.

NRM spokesperson Peter Benson said that after starting from scratch last year when around 40,000 took to the streets of central London, the upcoming event is expected to be more than twice as big with up to 100,000 in attendance.

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NRM now has more than 70 partner groups including London SNP and the European Movement in Scotland – which will be represented on the day by branches from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Fife. A number of Yes for EU activists are also planning to head south for the day.

Benson said: “Of course we appreciate that the cost and time involved will make it difficult for many pro-indy, pro-EU Scots to travel to London but anyone who does make it from Scotland can be assured of a very warm welcome and it will be great to see lots of Saltires as well as EU flags on the march.

“We are still very much a fledgling organisation but we’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support we are receiving. We have a very good relationship with the London SNP branch and some of their members joined our vigil outside Parliament at the end of January to mark the third anniversary of the UK leaving the EU.”

In addition to Starmer, another political absentee will be LibDem leader Ed Davey, but among the speakers currently billed to address the rally are MEPs Guy Verhofstadt and Terry Reintke from Belgium and Germany respectively and pro-EU activist Gina Miller, who now leads the True and Fair Party.

The National: Keir Starmer has snubbed an invite to the eventKeir Starmer has snubbed an invite to the event

It is understood Davey turned down the opportunity to appear despite being offered the first speaker’s slot to allow him to leave early and catch a train to the opening of his party conference in Bournemouth later the same day.

Davey, who has rowed back on the LibDems’s unambiguous support for EU membership after taking over as leader from Jo Swinson (remember her?) was also offered the opportunity to address the London rally via a pre-recorded video message or a live-stream from Bournemouth. However, he ignored both offers – a decision that has apparently annoyed many party members who may miss the start of their conference to attend the NRM march instead.

So – embarrassingly for the LibDems, who once claimed to be Britain’s most pro-EU party, the TV coverage of their annual conference could start with images of rows of empty seats.

Starmer and Davey’s current position regarding the march and rally has been condemned by the convenor of Scotland’s non-aligned campaigning group Yes for EU, Morag Williamson.

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She said: “We wish the National Rejoin Movement all the best and hope many Scots will attend.

It’s a disgrace that the leaders of two major parties that were both pro-Remain are apparently giving it a miss.

“Given the majority of UK voters would like to rejoin the EU, this shows neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats can be trusted.”

In a recent self-penned article in The New European newspaper, NRM chairman Peter Corr castigated Starmer for what he termed his “spineless attitude to Brexit” and compared him to Boris Johnson.

Corr wrote: “Brexit cannot work –ever. Either Starmer knows this and is lying when he says Labour can make it work or he’s not as clever as the average person on the street. Or maybe he’s simply lost touch with ordinary people.

“If it’s the first, we’re about to elect yet another prime minister despite knowing he’s lying and we’ve already seen where that got us.

“And if he has lost touch with ordinary people, then all he’ll be able to do to continue to appeal to them in future is to lie like Johnson did – again and again and again.”

Powerful stuff ... and a message the SNP should consider communicating to every household in Rutherglen and Hamilton West – especially to people who may be swithering about voting Labour.