Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon on her heartbreak for EU nationals

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption EU nationals living in Scotland heard Nicola Sturgeon say she was "angry, upset and concerned" for their future

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it "breaks my heart" she cannot give any guarantees to EU nationals living in Scotland that they can remain in the country after the UK leaves the EU.

Addressing a meeting of more than 400 EU nationals in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said she was angry, upset and concerned about their future.

However, she admitted she didn't have the power or authority to give any cast iron commitments about who could stay in Scotland and who could not. As the Scottish government has no control over immigration policy.

Ms Sturgeon said she thought it "disgraceful" that the UK government had not given any guarantees about the future for EU citizens living in all parts of the UK, arguing that European nationals are being used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations.

She told me after her speech that she has raised this issue with the Prime Minister Theresa May but has not received any assurances.

Only if she were to win another referendum on Scottish independence could the first minister make any meaningful promises to the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens that live and work in Scotland. And that's the point.

It is no secret that Nicola Sturgeon does want to achieve an independent Scotland.

Second independence referendum

And by admitting that she has no control over who can and cannot live in Scotland she is inviting voters to imagine a difference scenario - one in which the Scottish government does have the power to make these kind of decisions.

Ms Sturgeon is not yet ready to decide when, or if, she will hold another vote on independence.

But she repeated again today that is still an option - and still a possibility she thinks is "highly likely".

And in the meantime she won't let anyone forget that Scotland voted by a substantial majority to remain inside the EU.

More on this story