Nicola Sturgeon has branded the former deputy leader of Britain First a ‘racist and fascist’ after an extraordinary confrontation outside a polling station on election day.
Jayda Fransen, who is standing as an independent in Glasgow Southside, the same constituency contested by Ms Sturgeon, confronted the SNP leader on Thursday.
Ms Fransen, who has convictions for religiously aggravated harassment, told Ms Sturgeon: ‘What are you sorry for? Mass immigration, Marxism? I’m not a fascist. I’ve been on the ground speaking to locals who say you are an absolute disgrace.’
After a back and forth, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘You are a fascist, you are a racist and the southside of Glasgow will reject you.’
The First Minister also added: ‘We’ll see what the locals’ view is later on.’
It comes as Scots braved the snow to reach polling stations on Thursday in a vital election for the future of the independence movement.
According to experts, Ms Sturgeon’s chances of an overall majority look to be 50-50 after a slew of contradictory polls – some showing her party will lose seats, others suggesting they will gain ground.
The First Minister has made triggering a fresh referendum, potentially as early as this year, the centrepiece of her manifesto.
After the polls closed at 10pm, Ms Sturgeon reflected on an election ‘like no other’.
She said: ‘This has been an election like no other and I want to recognise and pay tribute to the efforts so many people have gone to to ensure that, even in the face of a pandemic, our democratic process took place and took place safely.
‘While we wait for the results over the next two days, we should never take for granted how special it is to have both the right and the ability to vote and to choose your own government.
‘The queues we saw at polling stations around the country showed people across Scotland cherish that right.
Former Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen confronted Nicola Sturgeon outside a polling station on Thursday
Ms Sturgeon branded her Glasgow Soutside rival a ‘racist and a fascist’ during their heated row
‘At this election the SNP has set out a bold, energetic and inspiring agenda to get us through and out of the pandemic, to secure a strong recovery and to take on the longer term challenges the pandemic has shone such a spotlight on. If we are fortunate enough to have won the support of the people of Scotland then we will get straight down to work.
‘At this election the SNP have also offered the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose their future once the covid crisis has passed. If, when the ballots are counted, there is a parliamentary majority for that choice then when the crisis has passed that democratic mandate must be respected.
‘It is now time to wait patiently and to respect the counting process. I am incredibly proud of the campaign that the SNP has run in every corner of the country, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to go to the polls today and play their part in Scotland’s future.’
Though the SNP is expected to comfortably win the most seats in the election, chances of an overall majority are still up in the air.
In Glasgow Southside, Ms Sturgeon is expected to win comfortably, despite going up against Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
Ex-Britain First deputy Ms Fransen is not expected to challenge.
Ms Sturgeon, who walked away after slamming Ms Fransen, is expected to win her local battle comfortably
During their confrontation today, she told Ms Sturgeon: ‘The locals, what the ones you have flooded from other countries? The decent people of Scotland don’t want it flooded with immigrants.’
She later told an SNP supporter who asked who she is: ‘I’m not fascist, just a normal, decent unionist patriot.
‘My grandfather fought the Nazis.’
In a piece to camera uploaded by the British Freedom Party, she accused Ms Sturgeon of ‘running away like a coward’, adding: ‘Of course if you flood a constituency with foreigners and hardline republicans who absolutely hate Britain, hate the union, they are going to secure their votes.
‘The unionist community are no longer unrepresented and we are coming for you.’
Ms Fransen has previously been pictured outside the constituency office of Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf holding a sign saying ‘it’s okay to be white’ and has said she is running against the ‘SNP commie, Marxists, naughty people’.
She has previously been convicted of a number of religiously aggravated crimes, including harassment in both 2016 and 2018 – the latter of which saw her sentenced to 36 weeks in prison.
Although a member of the British Freedom Party, documents from Glasgow City Council show Ms Fransen is running as an independent.