An SNP veteran has said he may not vote for his party in the European elections because he disagrees with the leadership’s opposition to Brexit.

Jim Sillars, a former depute party leader who voted for Brexit, said he faces an “enormous dilemma”, adding that abstaining in the election is an option.

Over 60% of voters north of the border rejected Brexit in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

However, despite a comfortable majority for Remain in Scotland, over one million voters supported Brexit. Around 30% of SNP backers reportedly voted Leave.

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After the result, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon initially called on the UK to remain in the single market, an outcome that would require leaving the EU.

She has since adopted a more robust anti-Brexit position and has called for a second referendum on the European question to take place.

Sillars, who was depute leader under Alex Salmond in the 1990s, is a left-wing euro-sceptic who backed Brexit in 2016.

He wrote at the time: “The question at the heart of this referendum is simple: do we want to continue being governed by an organisation we do not elect and cannot reject or do we want to bring democracy home, in exactly the way generations of nationalists have urged us to?”

Sillars has criticised Sturgeon’s anti-Brexit position and called for the SNP to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, he said this month's European elections posed a problem for people such as himself.

“Myself and 30% to 40% of SNP voters are in a dilemma and I have not resolved it. Nicola Sturgeon is asking me to vote against something I voted for.”

He added: “She’s asking me to vote for something I don’t agree with.”

Asked if he knew how he would vote, Sillars replied: “No. How can I be? People like me feel very angry that our vote is not being respected.”

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Although he said he faced an “enormous dilemma”, the former MP said he would find it “extremely difficult” to vote for another political party.

However, he said of the prospect of abstaining: “That’s one of the options.”

He continued: “If she [Sturgeon] had said ‘vote for us to refresh the commitment to independence, and we will offer a referendum on the EU after independence', that would be fine.”

Sillars claimed that the SNP leadership had “mishandled Brexit from day one”, adding that he gave Sturgeon “zero out of ten” for statesmanship on the issue.

Scottish Tory MP Ross Thomson said: “It’s no wonder Jim Sillars isn’t sure of who to vote for in the EU elections. His party have spent every day since the referendum ignoring a third of their own supporters who voted to leave.

“The SNP are all over the place on Brexit, and it’s telling that a party stalwart such as this can’t bring himself to vote for them.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “All the analysis and research shows that any form of Brexit would harm Scotland’s interests, our economy and people’s living standards. We hope people across Scotland will seize the opportunity in the upcoming European elections to send a clear message to Westminster that a vote for the SNP is a vote to stop the lasting economic and social damage that a Tory Brexit would cause."