The SNP’s candidate in an upcoming by-election has taken aim at the Liberal Democrats’ claim that voters are not talking about Brexit.

Katy Loudon, the SNP’s hopeful for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, said opposition parties were “not being straight” with voters on the issue of EU membership.

She was joined by the Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson, MP Alyn Smith and MSP Christina McKelvie during a pro-EU campaign event at Rutherglen’s Cuningar Loop.

Her comments come after UK Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the prospect of reversing Brexit – a key party policy in the 2019 election – was currently off the table.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election
Rutherglen and Hamilton West SNP local candidate Katy Loudon (Steve Welsh/PA)

Ms Loudon said the SNP was now the only “major” party to take EU membership seriously.

She said: “Brexit is really important on the doorstep. We’re the only party offering people a bit of hope and the chance to get back into the EU because you can see (the effects) absolutely everywhere.

“People are concerned about their bills – fuel bills and food bills – and they can see the disastrous effects, frankly, that Brexit has had on this area.”

Ms Loudon said small businesses owners in Rutherglen are being forced to consider increasing their costs for supplies, placing the burden on to customers, as a result of rising prices.

Liberal Democrat conference 2023
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

And she said opposition parties “are simply not being straight with people when they try to ignore Brexit”, adding: “It’s the elephant in the room because when you’re talking about healthcare, that’s to do with staff. That’s got to do with the number of people we can get over here to come and work in our hospitals.

“All of these issues are real for people so Brexit of course is paramount to people, still, on the doorstep.”

As Liberal Democrat party members gather in Bournemouth for the party’s autumn conference next week, Sir Ed told the BBC that people on the doorstep “aren’t talking about Europe”.

He said: “We want Britain to be back at the heart of Europe but we’re also realistic that’s going to take some time.”

While a spokeswoman for the Scottish Lib Dems said: “The SNP spent more money losing to the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the Shetland by-election than they spent on the EU referendum.

“There is no doubt that Scottish Liberal Democrats are the most pro-European party in Scotland.”