Scottish Government found out about Article 50 date from media

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Holyrood’s Brexit minister has criticised the UK Government after claiming Tory politicians in London “forgot” to inform Scotland of the date when Article 50 will be triggered.

Mike Russell said he only found out the Brexit process would formally get under way on March 29 when it was reported by the BBC.

Michael Russell 
said the Tory government must have 'forgot' to inform him.

Michael Russell said the Tory government must have 'forgot' to inform him.

Mr Russell, the minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, has been involved in discussions between London and Edinburgh over the Article 50 process as a member of the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations).

He claimed he had not been informed by Downing Street about the Prime Minister’s intended date for triggering Article 50.

Theresa May’s letter officially notifying the European Council of the UK’s intention to quit will set in motion a two-year negotiation process expected to lead to Britain leaving the EU on March 29 2019.

READ MORE: PM to trigger Article 50 on 29 March
Britain’s ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, informed the office of European Council president Donald Tusk on Monday morning of the Prime Minister’s plans.

Mr Russell tweeted: “Thank you @BBCNews for letting JMC members like me know that #Article50 is to be triggered next week. @GOVUK somehow forgot to inform us.”

That led to SNP MPs at Westminster accusing the Conservative administration of “arrogance” and a “complete dismissal of Scottish interests”.

Martin Docherty, MP for West Dunbartonshire, said on Twitter: “In the entire process this is extraordinary #Brexit chaos #Article50.”

Colleague Roger Mullin, who represents Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, tweeted: “Outrageous but typical of UK government arrogance and complete dismissal of Scottish interests. #indyref2.”

The row comes amid increasing tension between Edinburgh and London over Brexit after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to seek to hold a second independence referendum in the wake of the vote to quit the European Union.

While the UK as whole backed the UK’s departure, 62% of voters north of the border wanted to remain.

SNP ministers insist the result gives them a “cast-iron mandate” to stage a second independence referendum after the party’s manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood elections said such a vote should be held if there was a “material change in circumstances” from the 2014 ballot, citing the example of Scotland being removed from the EU against its wishes.

MSPs are expected to back Ms Sturgeon’s call for a fresh referendum to be held in a vote at Holyrood on Wednesday - which will then see the Scottish Government formally request a Section 30 order from Westminster, enabling a legally binding vote to take place.

However, Mrs May has already said “now is not the time” for another ballot on the future of the UK to be held.