NICOLA Sturgeon’s claim that Westminster launched a Brexit “power-grab” on Holyrood has been bolstered by a powerful Commons report, which says a devolution review should consider whether to scrap David Mundell’s role as Scottish Secretary and abolish the Scotland Office.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee today delivers a damning verdict on how Whitehall approaches devolution in general and how it dealt with the Scottish Government on Brexit in particular.

The report says devolution has “arguably qualified” Westminster’s sovereignty and changed the balance of powers across the UK.

But it notes: “Whitehall still operates extensively on the basis of a structure and culture which take little account of the realities of devolution in the UK. This is inimical to the principles of devolution and good governance in the UK.”

It says it was “highly regrettable” that there was little consultation with the devolved governments over the EU Withdrawal Bill as more liaison could have avoided much of the acrimony that was generated.

In future, the committee suggests, draft legislation should be shared with the devolved governments to identify and work through issues in advance.

In recognition of the significance of devolution to the UK’s constitutional arrangements, MPs call on the UK Government to establish a “Devolution Policy for the Union,” including giving more consideration to England.

In a key section, the report says it is important Theresa May and her colleagues recognise the reserved powers model of devolution means “powers are devolved by default and not conferred by the UK Parliament,” suggesting that it agrees powers held by the EU should go straight to Holyrood post-Brexit.

Yet it also “acknowledges the practical difficulties that arise from Brexit and the Government’s need to find practical solutions to address them”.

The report goes on to say there is “considerable ambiguity surrounding the Sewel convention” and that the UK Government chose to interpret it in such a way that legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament was deemed unnecessary.

It recommends in future clear statements of circumstances under which legislative consent is not required by the convention should be clearly set out.

The MPs also:

*say England should be better represented in the constitution, warning a failure to do so “risks a sense of increasing disconnection of the English people from the political system”;

*express concern about the Government’s attitude towards the post-Brexit UK common frameworks, calling on it to publish a coherent policy;

*say current inter-governmental relationship mechanisms are “not fit for purpose” and recommend a fresh structure be established along with a new system for inter-parliamentary scrutiny to hold the governments of the UK to account.

The report calls for a devolution review in the year following Brexit, covering how Whitehall is structured and how it relates to the devolved administrations.

“This review,” it says, “should also consider whether the role of the territorial offices in Whitehall and corresponding Secretaries of State are still necessary and, if they are, whether they might be reformed to promote better relations across Whitehall with the devolved administrations.”

Sir Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the committee, said “Leaving the EU will change the UK’s constitutional arrangements, so it needs a rethink.

“We recommend the Government sets out a clear devolution policy for the Union as we leave the EU; failure to do this just prolongs misunderstandings, which are the basis for more conflict.”

Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Secretary, said: “The EU Withdrawal Act is a power-grab on the Scottish Parliament and this report demonstrates that fundamental change is required within the UK Government to ensure devolution is respected.”

He suggested it was astonishing how 20 years on from the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, the committee highlighted how training in Whitehall about how devolution worked was still required.

“But more than training is needed,” he declared. “The Scottish Government has already said there needs to be a requirement in law for the Scottish Parliament’s consent before Westminster legislates on devolved issues.”

Mr Russell added: “There has been little meaningful engagement throughout this process and it is time the UK Government respected the views of the Scottish Parliament and abandoned its pursuit of a hard Brexit.”

His SNP colleague, Ronnie Cowan, who sits on the committee, said: “‘What we are witnessing is a blatant Westminster power-grab after twenty years of devolution.

“It is the arrogance of the Tories who think they can rip up the devolution settlement and transfer powers to Westminster. The fact that the committee is now questioning whether the Scotland Office and the office of Secretary of State are necessary is a humiliation for David Mundell who has clearly failed to justify his job.”

Willie Rennie for the Scottish Liberal Democrats said the report was a “powerful rebuke to those who think the only way is separation and division”.

Saying it was urgent for the committee's recommendations to be enacted to allow all the governments to work together, he added: “The prize will be a UK which has decentralised and devolved power but which can still work as a whole when the issues affect everyone across these islands.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: "We are committed to securing a deal that works for the entire United Kingdom and have been absolutely clear that when devolved powers are returned from Brussels, the vast majority will go straight to the devolved administrations.

"For the past year, we have been focused on constructively engaging with the devolved administrations and continue to have regular meetings with them, held at all levels, including the Joint Ministerial Committees and Ministerial Forums.

"All sides have committed to continuing to work together, including building common frameworks so that UK businesses won't face a cliff edge on the day we leave the EU."