Westminster today published a list of powers returning from Brussels it wants to devolve after Brexit, and which it intends to “freeze” at Westminster until agreement can be reached on joint control with the devolved administrations.
The document revealed disagreement in a number of areas where that the UK Government believes are reserved, and where the devolved administrations should have no input, such as state aid rules and the rights of migrants to claim benefits.
The Nationalists described the move as a “a clear attack” on the devolution settlement voted for by 74 per cent of voters in the 1997 referendum.
But it was a claim by Cabinet Office minister David Lidington that food prices could sharply rise if the UK’s internal market wasn’t protected that drew most ire from the party.
Mr Lidington told BBC Scotland that if certain policy areas did not return to Westminster then there would be a loss of jobs and “probably a higher price for consumers”.
The SNP hit back by claiming that CPI data showed that it was “uncertainty caused by the Tories” which was already driving up food prices, which it said underlined both the need for Scotland to fully retain all devolved powers and the importance of remaining in the Single Market.
Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham said: “What’s crystal clear today is that our Scottish Parliament, and the very foundations of devolution, are under attack from the Tories – a party that has never won a democratic mandate in Scotland in over 60 years.
“They’ve laid out in black and white what they’re itching to get their hands on – powers over farming, fisheries, procurement policy that could open up the NHS to American health firms, state aid, GM crops, the environment, food standards and much more.
“After all their promises to respect Scotland four years ago it is clear the Tories still think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it.
“They’re not seeking our consent – this is power play by decree.
“And they’ve resorted to the disgraceful scaremongering tactics we saw in 2014 to try and justify a systematic erosion of Holyrood’s powers.
“But the fact is this: the Tories own chaotic Brexit is jacking up the price on food and hammering Scottish households.
“A power grab won’t prevent that – it will exacerbate the problem.
“We need all the current powers at Holyrood and more to protect Scotland from the economic harm that the Tories own analysis shows is heading our way.”
Project Fear was reportedly first coined by staff members working within the pro-Union Better Together campaign ahead of the 2014 independence referendum.
It has since become a political term for any campaign which relies too heavily on negative predictions, and was regularly levelled against the pro-EU platform adopted by David Cameron ahead of the 2016 Brexit vote.