AS Scots from all over the country send their Valentine’s Day love to the EU, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator has told The National, Europe “cannot afford to lose” Scotland.

Guy Verhofstadt said Europe is well aware that a majority of Scots voted to stay within the bloc in last year’s referendum.

“Europe hasn’t forgotten that a large majority of the Scottish people voted to remain,” Verhofstadt said. “We need the Scottish people and their firm European beliefs.

“Scotland has shaped European civilisation, through iconic figures such as David Hume, Alexander Fleming and Adam Smith and still does so today by being at the forefront of defining and strengthening European values. We cannot afford to lose that.”

There was also love from Elmar Brok, the German chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, and a senior member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party. He said that his student days in our capital had stayed with him: “As a student I spent one year in Edinburgh. Since that time, Scotland is my big love,” Brok said. “Due to this emotional bond I always have an open heart for the interests of Scotland.”

The lovebombs from Verhofstadt and Brok, came as a new report showed that the Westminster Tory Brexit is preventing Scotland’s shops, factories and hospitals from filling job vacancies.

According to the latest Labour Market Outlook published by the CIPD and the Adecco Group, labour and skills shortages are being reported in the food supply chain, manufacturing, health care and hospitality.

And, shockingly, the poll said one in four firms has evidence that the EU nationals they currently employ are considering leaving their job or leaving the UK in 2017.

Deidre Brock, the Edinburgh North and Leith MP, said: “This report is another worrying signal of the effect a hard Tory Brexit is likely to have on our economy – the lack of clarity being provided by Theresa May has created uncertainty for our businesses, and for EU nationals living and working in the UK, and it’s putting off workers who would otherwise have been attracted to the come to the UK.”

Around 20,000 EU nationals in Scotland work in the accommodation and food services which accounts for one in ten of all those working in the industry and 12,000 EU nationals are employed in the health and social work sector. More than half of EU nationals in Scotland live in the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Dundee with the highest proportion, around 59,000, living in Edinburgh.

Currently, for EU nationals to obtain permanent residency cards, they need to complete an 85-page form, and provide five years’ worth of P60s, historical utility bills and a diary of all the occasions on which they have left the country since settling in the UK.

Meanwhile, a former civil service chief has said the UK is not in a fit state to negotiate Brexit.

Lord Kerslake told Sky News he had serious concerns about the capacity of Britain’s officials to work on Brexit.

The peer said: “I am seriously concerned a proper assessment of the skills and resources needed hasn’t been done.

“In fact Whitehall is still reducing staff quite dramatically.

“And you do have to ask the question, ‘how do you both deliver Brexit and have a significant domestic policy agenda as well?’.

“If the Government wants to have both a strong economic mandate – domestic policy being developed afresh – and deliver Brexit, you’re going to have to resource that and think very carefully about reductions you’re making.”

Oliver Ilott, senior researcher at the, Institute for Government, echoed Lord Kerslake’s concerns.

He said: “Whitehall is smaller than it’s been for many decades and across Whitehall, about 20 per cent of people have gone since 2010.”