Michael Russell labels Michael Gove claims Scottish Government is undermining Brexit talks ‘risible’

Michael Russell has hit out at claims the Scottish Government are undermining Brexit talks, saying the suggestion is “risible”.

Michael Russell has hit out at claims the Scottish Government are undermining the Brexit talks, saying the suggestion is “risible”.

The Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs has accused the UK Government of being solely to blame and demanded they “own” the problems with the negotiations.

Writing to UK Government minister Michael Gove, Mr Russell accused him of treating the devolved governments as an afterthought.

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He said: “You expressed disappointment in my description of the manner in which the UK Government has engaged with the Scottish Government, but I am surprised that you expected any other view given the way in which successive UK governments – and particularly the government of which you are a member – have chosen to treat the devolved governments.

“Your accusation regarding the Scottish Government’s undermining of the UK negotiations process is risible.

“You, and your colleagues, are solely responsible for the many and manifest problems in the strategy you have adopted, and must own them.”

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Mr Russell explained the Holyrood position on Brexit was clear and the suggestions Scotland had tried to negotiate with the EU was “simply untrue”.

He explained: “We have made our position clear in public on numerous occasions (as of course the Welsh and Northern Irish governments have also done), so our views will be well-known to the European Union, but we have never, ever attempted to negotiate.

“The reality is we have always stood up for Scotland’s interests in the face of your reckless Brexit strategy that is causing so much needless harm.

“Be in no doubt that the Scottish Government will always protect and promote what we believe are the fundamental interests of the people whom we seek to serve.”

Mr Gove had previously dismissed Mr Russell’s claims that contact between the two administrations was “sporadic and dysfunctional”, and accused the Scottish Government of failing to engage with Westminster.

He said: “I note that despite this intensified engagement, UK Government ministers and officials have not been invited to any operational readiness meetings of the Scottish Government.

“I appreciate that is your decision, but we still lack access to crucial data and have not had papers or other important planning materials shared with us.”

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