SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has written to the UK Government on behalf of all his MPs, urging ministers to bring home Scots trapped abroad during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week the Foreign Office urged British citizens to return home as soon as possible, but in many cases flights had already been cancelled and borders had been closed.

On Monday, prior to the UK’s current lockdown, The Foreign Office estimated around 1 million British citizens were abroad on holiday or business trips.

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Blackford and his MPs have asked the Government to provide "urgent assistance" to those trapped in foreign countries during the Covid-19 crisis.

He told ministers: "Since the initial stages of the Covid-19 crisis, our constituency offices have been inundated with enquiries and requests from citizens who find themselves abroad at this time. Their circumstances may have been different, but their plight is the same – they currently have no way to return home.”

Blackford said many of those stranded have ended up that way “through no fault of their own”. He added that he was hearing from many people who have now run out of money, medicine, or are desperate to return to their families in Scotland during this “time of crisis”.

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The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber added that “irresponsible” airlines were not helping the situation by over-inflating the prices of remaining flight routes.

He went on: “Given this ongoing context and crisis, I believe it now necessary and right for the Foreign Office to fully step in and implement a programme of repatriation for these citizens.”

Blackford suggested this could be done with a programme of evacuation flights using furloughed commercial aircraft and volunteer pilots, similar to methods used in 2010 when flights were grounded due to volcanic ash.

He went on “I fully appreciate the complexity of this task however in its absence the UK Government will be asking these citizens – many of them in a vulnerable position – to stay away for an unspecified period of time. We simply don’t know when this crisis will end, so asking these people to wait this crisis out is not acceptable.”

Blackford concluded: “These citizens are waiting to come home – it is time we helped them to do so.”