THE SNP’s Alyn Smith will lead a EU-wide bloc of pro-independence and regionalist parties in the European Parliament.

The newly re-elected veteran MEP was voted president of the progressive-leaning European Free Alliance or EFA, which has members from Corsica, Catalonia, Flanders and Wales as well as Scotland.

Crucially, the EFA is in aslliamce with the European Greens and Mr Smith will serve as vice president of a combined bloc of 75 MEPs, a key role.

Mr Smith said: “I’m honoured to have this vote of confidence from my colleagues, particularly during such an interesting political time.

“The Greens/EFA group has been a consistent voice for good in the European Parliament, and we’ve got an exciting future ahead of us.”

His victory was announced as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with EU leaders in Brussels.

Earlier this month the SNP won three MEPs out of six representing Scotland at the European Parliament.

Mr Smith added: “Lest we forget, Scotland voted decisively to Remain in the EU, and has just returned four pro-Remain MEPs out of six. Scotland is a European nation, and by electing a Scot from an unashamedly pro-Remain party as EFA President, I hope this shows that Scotland not only wants to play our part in contributing to this family of nations, but is also valued by the EU27.”

Mr Smith thanks outgoing EFA president Josep-Maria Terricabras “for all his work over the past five years”.