AN East Renfrewshire MSP has pleaded with European citizens to stay in the area once the UK has left the EU.

The UK will begin the process of leaving the bloc within weeks but Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw has insisted the country will remain united with Europe.

And he has spoken directly to EU nationals living in East Renfrewshire, urging them to stay despite tensions which have emerged since the 2016 referendum.

The Conservative MSP said: “In the next few weeks, we will finally be leaving the European Union and delivering on the referendum we held in 2016.

“The first thing to say is to speak directly to European citizens living in Scotland and the UK.

“We may be leaving the institutions of the European Union at the end of the month but the UK and Europe remain united by our shared continent.

“This is your home and we want you to stay.

“The fall-out from the referendum result has created huge tensions across the country.

“I hope that, once we have left Brussels at the end of January, those tensions will dissipate.

“It is time to move on from the decade of division we have just been through and enter a new decade of delivery for all.

“I am optimistic this will happen.”

MPs voted to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for the UK to leave the EU in December, paving the way for the country to quit the bloc on January 31.

They voted 358 to 234 in favour of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which now goes on to further scrutiny in Parliament.

The Bill would also ban an extension of the transition period past 2020. This is the period where the UK is out of the EU but continues to follow many of its rules.

Mr Carlaw added: “Under the newly-elected Conservative majority government, the country now has the direction it has lacked over recent years.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work and getting on with making our country a more united place.”