THE deputy leader of the SNP has been criticised for appearing to threaten voters will poorer public services if they don’t back the party in a byelection.

Keith Brown said if a candidate from another party won the Shetland seat they would not “have real influence with our Scottish Government”.

Mr Brown was speaking ahead of a full weekend campaigning across the islands with his party’s candidate,Tom Wills.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney and MEP Christian Allard will also take part. Nicola Sturgeon has visited the race twice, despite it being Scotland’s safest LibDem seat.

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Mr Brown said the prosperity of the next generation of Shetlanders was being put in danger by hardline Brexiteers in power at Westminster.

He said: “The byelection on August 29 is Shetland’s chance to make its voice heard. An SNP win here will send the new Prime Minister a very clear message – Shetland’s not for Brexit.

“The SNP will always fight to stop Brexit. And if the UK can’t be persuaded to change course then Scotland must have the choice of a better future, the choice of an independent future.

“On August 29 islanders have the opportunity to elect an SNP MSP who will fight tirelessly for Shetland. No-one else can be trusted to oppose the Tories and have real influence with our Scottish Government.”

Former Scottish LibDem leader Tavish Scott won the seat in 2016 with 67.4 per cent of the vote, compared to the SNP’s 23.1% .

He stood down as an MSP after 20 years in June to become head of external affairs at Scottish Rugby.

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LibDem candidate Beatrice Wishart said: “SNP MSPs have a sorry record of blindly voting as they are told, even when it is directly against the interests of the people they are meant to represent. As Shetland’s MSP, I will be our voice in Edinburgh not Edinburgh’s voice in Shetland. A vote for the SNP is nothing more than a green light for independence. It’s time SNP ministers stopped treating islanders as political pawns and delivered on their promises on ferry funding and more.”