IT is the election that no-one thought would happen and political parties did not expect to contest.

Three years ago, when it was announced that the UK had voted to leave the EU, Scotland’s six Members of the European Parliament were expected to pack up their belongings and vacate their offices in Brussels and Strasbourg by March 29 this year.

However, the extension of Brexit until October 31 this year, as a result of a stalemate in the House of Commons with MPs unable or unwilling to approve the deal negotiated with the EU by Theresa May to leave, made the election necessary.

Candidates were hastily organised, campaigns planned and new parties set up as a result of the unprecedented circumstances of Brexit and how it has changed the political landscape.

Eight parties and two independent candidates are standing in Scotland for election to the European Parliament.

The Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP and Ukip are joined by newcomers, the Brexit Party and Change UK in fielding candidates for the six Scottish seats in the Parliament.

Labour will be looking to retain the two seats they have, while the SNP is looking to get a third at the expense of Ukip.

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The Conservatives will be trying to get a second MEP to add to the one they have held since the Scotland wide constituency was created in 1999.

However, the Greens are looking to get their first Scottish MEP elected, hoping to win votes from people who want a second referendum and to stop Brexit.

Ukip had one MEP elected five years ago but David Coburn, however is not a candidate this time round.

He left the party last year and was an independent until he joined the Brexit Party this year.

Nigel Farage has led the new group and it is reported that he refused to allow Mr Coburn to stand for the new party.

Instead, Brexit’s lead candidate is Louis Steadman-Bryce, a care home director, who has said the party would not oppose a second Scottish independence referendum.

UKIP’s top candidate is Donald Mackay.

Change UK is the other newcomer set up by the eight Labour and three Conservative MPs, known as the Independent Group, who left their parties earlier this year.

Change UK has put up six candidates. It lost its lead candidate, Joseph Russo, on day one of the election campaign after offensive social media posts came to light.

He had made offensive comments about black women and Catholics on social media.

The SNP has chosen current MSP Alyn Smith as top of its list with former MSP Christian Allard at number two.

Mr Smith has been vocal in his anti-Brexit stance and in Scotland becoming an independent EU member state.

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At the last sitting of the Parliament he urged the EU to “leave a light on for Scotland, so it can find its way home”.

Labour has selected one of its current MEPs as their number one on the list.

David Martin is the longest serving MEP in the UK, having been elected in 1984 as MEP for Lothians, and been returned at every election since.

Mr Martin has said on more than one occasion he could consider backing independence for Scotland if the UK leaves the EU.

The other MEP Catherine Stihler is not standing, having taken up a post as chief executive of data sharing initiative Open Knowledge International.

Number two on the Labour list is Jayne Baxter a former Labour list MSP.

The Conservatives have Nosheena Mobarik as their lead candidate. She took over as an MEP when Ian Duncan resigned to take up a place in the House of Lords.

The Liberal Democrats hope to regain a European seat and win over remain voters with their push for a People’s Vote on Brexit.

They lost the one seat they had previously held, in the 2014 election when George Lyon lost out to Ukip.

Their lead candidate for 2019 is Sheila Ritchie.

The Greens have not had a MEP elected from Scotland but have high hopes this time from a remain perspective, and an increased public interest in climate change and environmental protection.

With the SNP and LibDems also campaigning on the same ground they face competition and could suffer from a split the pro-remain vote.

Their top candidate is Maggie Chapman, who is co-convenor of the Scottish Greens with Patrick Harvie, and a former Edinburgh councillor.

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In addition to the party lists there are also two independent candidates standing, Gordon Edgar and Ken Parke.