Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has demanded that the government guarantee the rights of EU migrants to be given the right to remain following Brexit.
He told the House of Commons on Monday evening that he wanted to explain why the issue mattered to him as “a Liberal and an islander”.
Mr Carmichael said: “Those representing island communities understand that things very often have to run to different rules and we have different priorities.
“One of the most important aspects of keeping an island community viable, prosperous and growing is maintaining a viable level of population.
“In recent years and decades the contribution of EU citizens to growing and maintaining the services and businesses within the island communities that it is my privilege to represent has been enormously important.
“It matters to my communities, therefore, that the position of these EU nationals who live in our communities, and who contribute to our public services and businesses, should be clarified; they should be given the greatest possible reassurance at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Mr Carmichael said there was no aspect of island life these days in which you could not find EU nationals living and working.
He said: “They work in our fish houses, they work in our hotels and bars, they work in our hospitals, our garages and building companies, and they teach in our schools.
“If we go into the admirable University of the Highlands and Islands, we will find them leading some groundbreaking research there, especially in the development of renewable energy – a future for our whole country.
“That is why the position of these people in our communities matters to the people I represent, and they matter to me, and they should matter to us all.”
Afterwards Mr Carmichael said that EU migrants were not “something to be used as bargaining chips”.
He added: They are human beings. They are friends, spouses, parents, who came to our country to make a better life for themselves, and in the vast majority of cases they have done so, not just for them, but for the communities in which they live too.
“It is simply outrageous that the government are not prepared to provide certainty for these communities and individuals.”