DAVID Mundell has claimed the UK Government was told to keep secret their response to the SNP's paper outlining how Scotland could retain its ties with Europe after Brexit.

Asked when the Conservatives would respond to the 50-page dossier ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ which was submitted to Downing Street before Christmas, the Scottish Secretary of State insisted that a formal reply had been given - not "roundly ignored", as SNP MP Deidre Brock had alleged.

Mr Mundell told the House of Commons: “'Scotland’s place in Europe’ did play an important part in the Government’s thinking.”

In comments directed the SNP benches, he added: "Just so the hecklers opposite are clear, the Government has formally responded to the Scottish Government in relation to ‘Scotland’s place in Europe’ and surprisingly the Scottish Government asked us not to publish our response.”

Tory sources later said the proposals had been unworkable and impractical while Conservative ministers are thought to have been relaxed about not releasing their response publicly amid hopes of continued discussions.

But the Scottish Government denounced Mr Mundell's claim as "bizarre".

A spokesman for the Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell said: “This is a bizarre claim from David Mundell – the UK Government is free to publish whatever it wants.

"If Mr Mundell is referring to a recent letter from David Davis then it is the UK Government which has indicated it may try to block its publication in response to a freedom of information request.

"Instead of doing so, Mr Mundell and his colleagues should publish whatever they deem to be their formal response to our paper so that people can see for themselves how little the UK Government has engaged with our proposals."

Earlier Ms Brock said: "Will the Secretary of State tell us what personal action he took to convince the Prime Minister to take account of the views of the people of Scotland, and can he provide an explanation for why he failed?"

It is thought that Brexit Secretary Mr Davis wrote to Mr Russell a week before recess.

Earlier this year. a poll suggested most Scots do not want a separate Brexit deal.

Almost two-thirds of Scottish voters thought Brexit rules on trade and immigration should be the same in Scotland as they are in the rest of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon published a blueprint for a bespoke deal allowing Scotland to stay in the EU single market to avoid a hard Brexit, backed by Theresa May, in December.

The proposals included the devolution of immigration and employment law to Holyrood.

The UK Government is thought to consider the proposals unworkable because they would harm the 'single market' that already exists within the UK.

Tory ministers insist this would be bad for Scotland and for the rest of the UK, because it would harm to ability to strike trade deals with other countries.

Mr Mundell's constituency is expected to a key target for the SNP during the election.

Scotland's only Tory MP was returned with a majority of just 798 in 2015.

A sitting cabinet minister would be a high-profile scalp for the SNP.

Mr Mundell has defended Mrs May's decision to call a snap election.

He told MPs: "As we head into unprecedented peacetime negotiations with the EU, it is vital that all parts of the United Kingdom pull together to take a Team UK approach. By doing so, we will get the best possible deal for Scotland and the whole UK."