THE SNP spent less money campaigning to remain in the EU than on fighting a by-election in Glenrothes, it has emerged.

Figures released last night by the Electoral Commission said the SNP spent £90,830 in the EU referendum campaign, of which £64,105 went on leaflets and £26,725 on advertising.

The spending limit for the SNP was £700,000.

The largest single item of expenditure was just over £23,000 on 1.75 million copies of a leaflet titled You And Your Family Are Better Off In Europe.

Despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon making Brexit one of the Scottish Government’s priorities, and warning the result of June 23 makes a second independence referendum “highly likely”, the spending is on a par with some of the SNP’s parliamentary by-election fights.

In 2008, the Nationalists spent £85,540 winning the Glasgow East by-election for Westminster, then a few months later spent £98,597 fighting the Glenrothes seat, only to lose to Labour.

The following year, the SNP pumped £57,720 into fighting another Westminster seat, Glasgow North, but lost after being outspent by Labour, who put in £93,117.

In 2013, the SNP spent £65,085 on the Holyrood by-election for Dunfermline and £80,606 in Aberdeen Donside.

The party spent £1.3 million in the 2014 referendum campaign.

Opposition parties claimed the SNP had "barely lifted a finger" in the EU campaign, yet was now using Brexit to promote independence.

However, given the 62-38 vote for Remain in Scotland, the SNP spending could also be seen as efficient and successful. 

Many unions also spent large sums campaigning for Remain.

The Communication Workers Union spent £93,000, the TUC £98,000, the shopworkers union USDAW spent £104,000 UK-wide, and the super union Unite spent £140,000.

The Commission’s spending covers all those registered participants in the election who spent less than £250,000.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The SNP is behaving like leaving the EU is the end of the world for Scotland.

“But the party’s pitiful investment in the campaign tells another story completely.

“The SNP is not a poor organisation, yet it treated the EU referendum like it was a council by-election.

“Now we know Alex Neil and other senior SNP figures wanted Brexit, perhaps that explains why such little effort and cash was invested.”

Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald added: "People will be surprised that the SNP spent so little on the EU referendum campaign, despite being funded by multi-millionaires.

"As is often the case, when it comes to delivering on their warm words the Nationalists are found wanting.

"The Nationalists barely lifted a finger during the EU referendum but now want to take advantage of Brexit by forcing another independence referendum on the people of Scotland.

"The Labour Party across the whole of the UK campaigned harder than any other party to secure our place in the EU."

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: "That the SNP would spend more on a parliamentary by-election that this national referendum reveals the low priority that they gave the referendum.  They hardly lifted a finger during the referendum.

“The SNP can redeem their lacklustre EU campaign by backing our fight to keep the UK within the EU. With leading politicians agreeing with us we have momentum to put an end to a damaging Brexit.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "The SNP ran a strong, positive and effective campaign, helping to successfully secure the overwhelming 62 per cent vote for Remain in Scotland.

"It’s time Willie Rennie revealed how much the LibDems spent on their campaign in Scotland and, more importantly, if he will support our proposals to keep Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves.”