Vote Leave leader 'hypocritical' for now calling for rights for Europeans in UK
The Labour MP who co-chaired the successful Vote Leave campaign is facing accusations of hypocrisy after she called on ministers to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
Gisela Stuart said the Government had a duty to adopt a "humane" approach towards the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens currently resident in Britain and demonstrate that the UK remained a "welcoming country" in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Her comments drew a stinging retort from Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron who said that she had been happy enough to support a campaign which had "whipped up" anti-immigrant sentiment in order to secure a Leave vote.
"Gisela Stuart happily put her name to a campaign which repeatedly whipped up anti-immigrant feeling, which has contributed to an increase of hate crimes against Europeans, so it's pretty shameful that she's now claiming to be worried about EU citizens here in the UK," Mr Farron said.
"It is like the arsonist turning round and saying they are surprised that a fire took hold."
Ms Stuart, who is chairing an inquiry for the think-tank British Future on how the rights of EU nationals in the UK can be protected, said she would like the Government to announce all those who were in the country before the referendum on June 23 will be allowed to stay.
Ministers have indicated that while they would be prepared to let EU nationals already in the UK stay, they want to secure a reciprocal commitment from other member states concerning the 1.2 million UK citizens living in the EU.
Ms Stuart told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I think it would be good for the British Government to take the initiative, say that we will protect EU citizens' rights, and then expect the same for UK citizens in the rest of the EU to be similarly protected.
"One of the duties of politicians is to be humane and when we deal with people's lives, I think to show that we are open, we are a welcoming country, that we simply decided to leave a political institution called the European Union, that doesn't mean we are ignoring people's rights."