Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has accused Boris Johnson of being a liar over his stance on EU nationals in the UK.
In a strongly-worded attack, Ms Swinson said the Prime Minister was engaged in “dog whistle” politics in the final days of the General Election campaign.
Ms Swinson said that many people in the UK were worried about the “fear and hate” that can be stoked by the rhetoric the Prime Minister uses.
The Lib Dem leader insisted that the December 12 poll was a fight “for the soul of our country”.
At an election rally in Bath, Ms Swinson was highly critical of Mr Johnson, telling the PA news agency: “He has said that he has promised their rights to stay after Brexit, and yet, if you look at the system that they are putting in place, there is a cut-off date, so there is no guarantee that all EU citizens who are living here and have been living here will actually be allowed to stay.
“It is a Windrush scandal waiting to happen.”
Ms Swinson added: “What do we get from the Prime Minister? We get lie after lie after lie.
“The Prime Minister who said that he would guarantee the rights of those three million nationals from other EU countries. He promised he would guarantee their rights and how long did it take before, instead, he was stoking hostility towards those very people in our country?
“His dog whistle comments in the last few days have let that mask slip.”
Asked if she thought Mr Johnson was deliberately stoking racism, Ms Swinson told PA: “I think a couple of days before the election is when these messages often get raised and I don’t think this is a coincidence.
“I think he has very serious questions to answer. About his leadership, the language that he uses.
“There’s a reason why many people in our country are worried about the type of rhetoric that he uses and the fear and hate that can stoke.”
Ms Swinson said: “We are an internationalist party. We are a liberal party, we recognise that this is a fight for the soul of our country.
“Are we open or closed? Are we generous or selfish? Do we reach out and work with others or do we pull up the drawbridge?”