Scottish deputy first minister John Swinney became embroiled in a blazing row with Scottish Secretary David Mundell as the pair debated the rights of EU citizens after Brexit on Question Time.
Mr Swinney said EU citizens living in Britain had been left clueless by the Government – which has so far refused to guarantee their right to remain post-Brexit.
“It’s a very simple question to deliver the answer to David,” Mr Swinney told Scotland’s only Tory MP.
John Swinney and David Mundell were involved in a bitter clash on Question Time
So don’t lecture me on playing politics on the future of EU residents
Mr Mundell replied: “I’m not going to be lectured by somebody who was found out for delaying an announcement about the funding of EU students so that it could be made at your party conference rather than bring certainty to those students!”
“So don’t lecture me on playing politics on the future of EU residents.”
The row obviously struck a tone with the audience in Glasgow who reacted noisily to the dispute.
As the pair argued veteran host Dimbleby was forced to intervene as he scolded the pair for political point-scoring on the issue.
“Those watching and indeed the audience here would probably prefer it if you didn’t play politics because it’s too serious for that.”
Many of the three million EU nationals living in the UK are in a state of limbo at present, with little certainty about their rights to remain after Britain leaves the trading bloc.
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Theresa May’s government has suggested that it wants to offer Europeans the right to stay but wants assurances that the 1.2 million British people living in various other member states will receive the same treatment.
Ministers have suggested this issue would be resolved at the start of the Brexit negotiations, which are due to begin once Article 50 is triggered by the end of March.
But others are calling for this to be held for later in the negotiations citing the fact so many EU citizens live in the UK as a key point of ‘negotiating capital'.
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