THE UK Government must cover all of the estimated £100 million bill to police a prestigious UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland’s Justice Secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf said the security and policing costs of COP26 – which will see up to 30,000 delegates converge on Scotland’s largest city – will be “really substantial”.

The COP26 meeting will decide the future direction of global efforts to avert the climate crisis and is set to take place in December 2020.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, Mr Yousaf said: “It is the expectation of this government that the UK Government will pick up all of the costs associated with COP26.

“The conservative estimate of the cost around security for that conference is £100 million, so not an insignificant amount.

“So therefore we would expect all of those costs to be borne by the UK Government.

“My understanding from the Scottish Government’s correspondence with the UK Government is the UK Government have agreed to cover what they determine as ‘core’ costs – and you can imagine we are trying to nail down exactly what that word core might mean.”

Mr Yousaf stressed the Scottish Government is “delighted” Glasgow is hosting the conference, insisting it will be a great boon for the city.

However, he repeated: “We would expect all the costs around security and policing to be picked up by the UK Government.

“In fairness to the UK Government, they’ve said that core costs will be.”

He added: “All we’re doing is simply nailing down what the word ‘core’ might entail.”

His comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted the union flag should be prominent at the summit. 

He also said he did not want to see First Minister Nicola Sturgeon "anywhere near" it, arguing the UK Government secured the conference and not the SNP.

During a slightly testy exchange at the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur labelled Mr Yousaf's position “bizarre”.

Mr Yousaf replied: “There’s nothing bizarre about it. We’re delighted that COP26 is coming here, but we just hope that the UK Government will cover what is a really substantial policing bill.”

The Justice Secretary earlier told the committee that the Scottish Government also expects UK ministers to cover any policing costs relating to a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this year, Scotland’s chief constable warned current officer numbers are “not sustainable” in the face the force's multi-million pound deficit.

Iain Livingstone said: "The truth is that our current workforce numbers are not sustainable against the allocated budget we have."

John Finnie, convener of the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, suggested any future police cuts should not exclude chief officers at the top of the force. 

He said there had been "an exponential increase in the number of chief officer posts".

Addressing Mr Yousaf, he said: "You would understand that if there’s grief to be shared in terms of numbers, there would be an expectation among many in the organisation that that takes place across the rank structure, rather than seeing a growth in one and a reduction in the front line.”