ANGRY and dismayed Scottish Tory MPs have lashed out at the UK Government’s “terrible” handling of its flagship Brexit Bill over devolution concerns.

Emotions ran high behind closed doors this week in a series of meetings with party whips and ministers as Conservative backbenchers complained that they had been treated badly and were “not kept in the loop”.

Earlier this week, David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, announced it was “regrettable” that Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill could not be changed in time for next week’s Report Stage; as he had originally promised. It will now be altered when the bill begins its passage through the House of Lords next month.

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Amendments are to be tabled to allay fears among Scottish Conservatives as well as Scottish Nationalists that the legislation could undermine the devolution settlement and amount to a “power-grab” from Holyrood by Westminster.

One MP said: “There was great concern when we heard about the delay. There has been a lack of communication. The ball has been dropped and it reflects badly on us. It’s not been a good week.”

On Monday, Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, will be in Downing Street for a “New Year chat” when she will express her “frustration and disappointment” to Theresa May at the delay to the promised amendments. However, one source noted: "There won’t be a hairdryer moment."

The Herald broke the news of the delay on Tuesday. Whitehall sources said the resignation of Damian Green, the key liaison figure between London and Edinburgh on the bill, together with the Christmas break meant officials in both governments did not have enough time to pull together and agree the wording of the amendments in time for next Tuesday’s Report Stage.

But one party insider insisted the fault lay with officials at the Cabinet Office, who, he claimed, simply did not fully appreciate the urgency of the matter and missed the deadline to table the amendments. “There has been an element of complacency,” he said.

Within 24 hours of taking up his role as the new Cabinet Office Minister, David Lidington was on the phone to John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, to reassure him of the Government’s “absolute commitment” to change the bill. Mr Lidington has also spoken to Scottish Tory MPs.

One declared: “The handling of this has been terrible.”

A number of private meetings took place across Whitehall this week. At least one involved Scots-born Chief Whip Julian Smith and a “representative from No 10”.

It was suggested that while most of the 13-strong Scottish Tory group were only told of the problems over the amendments this week, some knew before Christmas. “We were not kept in the loop. Some of us have stood up and said we would not vote for the bill unless Clause 11 was changed; now we will have to,” he complained.

One Scottish Conservative said when the debate got underway on Tuesday he and his colleagues would “not be holding back” in venting their frustration at ministers and party managers.

But he also stressed that the bill would be amended in the Lords with the changes “signed off” by the Scottish Government.

“The most important thing is that we get a Legislative Consent Motion from Holyrood. If there isn’t one, then the Lords are not going to pass the bill; it would collapse it, which would be catastrophic for the Government,” added the backbencher.

Asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned about her Scottish colleagues’ exasperation over the handling of the Brexit bill, her spokesman said: “Our commitment to improving the bill remains absolute and the most important thing is the changes command support on all sides. Constructive talks are continuing.”