THE FOREIGN Secretary’s "lack of political will and incompetence" could cost stranded Scots their lives if they are not repatriated urgently, politicians have warned.

SNP MPs Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald have lashed out at the minister and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) after receiving hundreds of emails and calls from their constituents who cannot get home.

Years of budget cuts and no comprehensive plan has left the UK Government playing catch-up with other countries such as Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Israel in its attempts to repatriate, the MPs claim.

READ MORE:  'Don't bring your virus here, Gringos': Scots stuck abroad face escalating tensions as they wait for help to get home

They are now calling for the army to be used to bring people home, and say if swift action is not taken it could cost lives as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Speaking to The Herald on Sunday, Stewart McDonald challenged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to “pull his finger out”, while berating airlines trying to “make a fast buck” out of abandoned tourists.

The Glasgow South MP said: “Dominic Raab is showing that he is way out of his depth and it is our constituents who are paying the price for it.

“Foreign Office Officials advising Members of Parliament to tell their constituents to crowd-fund or try and raise bank loans in order to get home safely during a global health pandemic is about as contemptible as you can get.

“The Foreign Secretary needs to pull his finger out and start a global effort to bring our citizens home.

“People are being left with little or no money, are running out of critical medicine and in some cases are being left with no accommodation in the country they are visiting.

“The airline industry, many of whom are doing their best to raise a fast buck and want to charge people eye-watering amounts to return home, are proving useless and ought to be ashamed of the way they are trying to extort travellers for money during a global health crisis.”

McDonald, the SNP’s Defence spokesman added that Raab should be using the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “to ensure that the armed forces – logistically well prepared around the world – start non-combatant evacuation operations for UK citizens and dual nationals stranded abroad”.

Should the MoD be utilised in the effort, no additional legislation would be needed as there are already measures in place for non-combatant evacuations.

The MP said: “Dominic Raab’s dither and delay has the potential to cost lives. He needs to pull his finger out and act now.”

Alyn Smith, MP for Stirling, wrote to Raab on Friday after numerous desperate Scots contacted him for help.

He has now accused the Foreign Office of “completely failing” Scots, and said the UK’s attempt at repatriation has been woeful in comparison to other countries.

The SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman said he was “furious” at the lack of action to bring people back home, adding: "Enough is enough, the UK has let our constituents down.

“This has simply not been taken seriously and the FCO is clearly not coping.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter on coronavirus: this crisis could bring a Great Depression, not socialism

"The FCO has borne the brunt of years of budget cuts and this sorry state of affairs is the result, I know many FCO officials share my frustration that they are trying to achieve miracles but are overwhelmed.

“We've heard great tell of the broad shoulders of the UK. Well there's plenty of Scots stuck abroad right now who have been comprehensively let down.

“It reflects particularly badly when contrasted with other countries.”

Smith said the images of hundreds of commercial planes grounded at airports, and staff being put on furlough leave, has made it even more galling for the thousands of Scots stuck abroad.

He said: “It is obvious that there is capacity to organise evacuation flights, just a lack of political will.

"This is not just that people are being inconvenienced, it is an emergency.

“I, like many MPs, have heard heartbreaking stories over the last few weeks of people who are stuck having tried every option to get home but have been let down by airlines; of people running out of medicine, or money having been let down by their insurance company as well.

"The state needs to step in. We have seen welcome action in some isolated cases but there needs to be a comprehensive plan to get out people home. We will of course need to work out quarantine for when they get back but first and foremost we need to let people know they're not on their own."

An FCO spokesman said: "We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.

“The FCO is working around the clock to support British travellers in this situation to allow them to come back to the UK. The Government is seeking to keep key transit routes open as long as possible and is in touch with international partners and the airline industry to make this happen. Consular staff are supporting those with urgent need while providing travel advice and support to those still abroad.”