Brexit will be a “crisis entirely of the UK Government’s making”, a key ally of Nicola Sturgeon has said, as he dismissed Westminster claims that they had been “working collaboratively” with Scottish ministers.
Constitution Secretary Mike Russell insisted ministers in London had “simply ignored” the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations “throughout the whole Brexit process”.
He hit out in a letter to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who wrote to him recently claiming there was now “intensified engagement” between Westminster and Holyrood as the UK prepares for the Brexit transition period ending in December.
Mr Gove also complained that Scottish ministers have not given the UK Government access to “crucial data” on Brexit preparedness.
But Mr Russell insisted that the UK Government had “recklessly decided to end the transition period at great cost to Scotland and indeed the UK as a whole”.
He added: “This action I am afraid typifies the UK Government’s whole approach to Brexit – total disregard for the wishes and interests of the people of Scotland, contempt for devolution and a drive towards an ever more extreme and damaging Brexit which is going to end with either the worst possible outcome – no trade deal – or at best a ‘low deal’ which will cost jobs and hit the economy hard at the worst possible time.”
Responding to the Cabinet Office minister, Mr Russell said: “I fully understand why you would wish to assert that you have been working collaboratively with the devolved governments, but the facts show that the decisions on Brexit have been taken by the UK Government alone.
“This is a crisis entirely of the UK Government’s making and people in Scotland are well aware of where the responsibility for the consequences lie.”
The Scottish Constitution Secretary said while Mr Gove had referenced the number of meetings held between the UK Government and the devolved administrations, ministers at Holyrood were “concerned about the quality and timing of engagement”.
His comments come after he told MPs in September that there was now no trust between the Scottish Government and Westminster, complaining that dialogue between the two administrations had become “significantly worse since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister”.
A UK Government spokesman said: “As the letter from Michael Russell itself acknowledges, officials in the devolved administration in Scotland and UK Government are working closely together on preparations for the end of the transition period with dozens of meetings over the last few weeks alone.
“The Joint Ministerial Committee on EU negotiations, which brings together UK and devolved administration ministers, has already met six times this year and we look forward to further constructive discussions.
“We will not always agree on policy but we are committed to working together.”