SNP MEP Alyn Smith has dismissed Tory attempts to broadside his campaign to support EU nationals as “desperate stuff” and issued an emphatic reminder that people from the EU are welcome in Scotland.

Smith, alongside MSP Bruce Crawford, issued a letter to European nationals living in Stirling last month, setting out their assurance of the Scottish Government’s support.

Tory MP Stephen Kerr, writing in The Herald last month, attacked the campaign, writing that “SNP nationalists see chaos as a stratagem”.

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Kerr’s column suggested that Smith and Crawford sowed “confusion and panic” through their “irresponsible and reckless” letter and added that the “complexity and confusion it creates is part of the nationalist agenda”.

“SNP nationalists see chaos as a stratagem, one which reaches their goal of independence. They are the only ones who benefit. The people of Scotland, UK citizens and EU citizens alike suffer,” he concluded.

Last week, Kerr’s Conservative colleague and MP for Banff and Buchan, David Duguid, raised the letter in Parliament, calling it a “cynical tactic”.

Smith issued a withering response to the comments. “I don’t begrudge Mr Kerr showing a bit of initiative in getting himself some media coverage ahead of a possible General Election, but I’m loath to use EU nationals as pieces in an inter-party dispute, and so I didn’t bother responding,” he said.

“David Duguid – who I am assured is currently the MP for Banff and Buchan – brought it up in the House of Commons, again accusing me of whipping up support for a referendum. Same letter, same lines.

“Perhaps instead of trying to attack other parliamentarians for trying to help EU nationals, they might consider the revolutionary idea of doing it themselves?”

Smith went on to slate the Tory duo’s attempts to “score petty points”, pointing out that the “desperate stuff” they peddled belied the fact that their party policies have contributed directly to EU nationals left “feeling isolated and unwelcome”.

His letter’s sole aim, he said, was to reassure EU Scots who had been forced to “navigate their everyday lives amidst a ... hostile political environment”.

Smith then issued a final reminder: “You are welcome here. This is your country as much as it is mine, and there are politicians from across the parties trying to protect you.”