AS we go into the polling station on Thursday to cast our European election ballots, each of us should – if only for a brief moment – pause to give thanks for an election in which few of us ever expected to be involved.

It is not easy to find reasons to be cheerful talking about Brexit. The whole process has been run by the most incompetent and selfish prime minister in UK history, who has used the damaging uncertainty of it all to hang on to her job by her fingernails. Meanwhile, those politicians who cheerlead for it most loudly are doing so out of naked personal ambition or for equally naked financial advantage. The ordinary citizen – Leave or Remain supporter – is the last thing on the collective Westminster mind.

But this election gives the ordinary citizen a few things to be grateful for. We are still in the EU and – despite long and desperate attempts to avoid the ballot made by both Tory and Labour leaderships at Westminster – we can now send the clearest and loudest message that we don’t intend to leave.

Sadly, south of the Border there is a barrier to that noble task, which is the inability of the anti-Brexit politicians to work together. Labour’s cynical fence-sitting has further confused the issue, leaving the appalling Nigel Farage and his non-party (for his Brexit is a brand, not a vehicle for democracy and debate) with an open goal.

It is, in fact, very doubtful there is still a majority for Brexit in England, and there certainly isn’t in Wales, but it may seem that way if those who want to stop it don’t get their acts together this week.

Scotland’s politics are, as ever, different, demonstrating the divergence that has been an increasingly obvious fact of political life for at least the past 60 years.

The SNP are, according to opinion polls, seen as the most anti-Brexit party in the whole of the UK. People know that a vote for the SNP gives everyone here the opportunity to state clearly and decisively that they, and we, don’t want to leave the EU.

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But the votes have to be cast. If you aren’t in, as the old advertising slogan for the lottery used to put it, you can’t win – and that is going to be the crucial issue this week.

How motivated are people to vote in an election that traditionally sees low turnout, and moreover in a contest the result of which some politicians want to ensure is never honoured?

My experience of the campaign in recent weeks tells me that Remain voters in Scotland are much more numerous but sometimes not as determined to turn out as many Leave voters, who see what they want slipping away.

One of the factors that influences Remain supporters is a lack of knowledge of what will happen in the weeks and months ahead. Will any of the six MEPs that Scotland elects this week actually take their seats on July 2 in Brussels? Will their voice, speaking up for Scotland, ever be heard?

Of course we don’t currently know for sure, but what is certain is that if a strong anti-Brexit, pro-Remain message is not sent very clearly to May and Corbyn – and indeed to the EU – then the chances of there continuing to be reasons to be cheerful about our European membership will finally be extinguished.

The Scottish Government’s response to Brexit has been both thoughtful and agile. Thoughtful because, examining the evidence, we have been clear that the country would be badly damaged by exiting the EU, but agile because we have recognized the need to react, again and again, to the ever-changing chaos at Westminster.

Strategically, we want to remain in Europe or, if the UK leaves, to re-enter at the earliest possible moment. So we need to be agile enough to take advantage of every opportunity to send strong positive signals of that intent to the UK Government and to the EU itself.

A vote for the SNP is a strategic one which we will do our very best to honour by stopping Brexit, or ensuring Scotland’s re-entry to the EU.

But it also does something even more immediate.

It says loud and clear that Scotland won’t be ignored and won’t be dragged out of Europe against our will, no matter what a Tory government at Westminster thinks – and no matter who is the prime minister.