UK Government Brexit minister cancels Scottish appearance in 'extremely disrespectful' act

Official portrait of James Duddridge
Official portrait of James Duddridge
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A UK Government Minister for Brexit has been called "extremely disrespectful" after cancelling an appearance before a Scottish Parliament committee "at the last minute".

James Duddridge MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, was supposed to give evidence before MSPs in Edinburgh on Thursday.

Today the Scottish Parliament received a letter from Mr Duddridge explaining he was "no longer able to give evidence to the Committee ... as previous expected, due to parliamentary business in Westminster".

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He initially accepted the accepted the invitation of the culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee on 12 September.

But committee convener Joan McAlpine MSP has criticised his actions in her own response, noting the UK Parliament returned on 25 September.

Ms McAlpine also said: "It is extremely disrespectful to the Committee that the UK Government Minister has cancelled his evidence session with the Committee at the last minute.

"It is simply unacceptable to us that with less than a month to go before Brexit, that we have not heard from a UK Government Minister.

"This is despite repeated requests to discuss something that will have major implications for Scotland.

"We must hear from the UK Government before 31 October."

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A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: "Minister Duddridge is unable to appear before the Scottish Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee on this occasion due to Parliamentary commitments in Westminster.

"As the letter notes, Minister Duddridge is committed to rescheduling his session with the committee."