SNP ministers have been accused of “not even pretending to care” about public services after prioritising a Holyrood debate on flags.

The Scottish Government has found extra time for a debate tomorrow in an attempt to keep the European flag flying over the Scottish Parliament after Brexit Day.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), the cross-party group of MSPs which oversees the parliamentary estate, agreed last week to lower the flag this Friday.

It said the European flag would no longer fly on a daily basis outside the parliament’s public entrance next to the saltire and union jack.

Instead, it would only be raised on Europe Day to mark continued ties with the continent.

However the Scottish Government is now trying to overturn the decision and keep the flag flying.

It has brought proceedings forward 30 minutes, before a debate on another independence referendum, and tabled a motion that if passed would force the SPCB to comply.

The motion noted the flag has flown outside the parliament since its opening in 2004 "as a symbol of membership of the family of European nations" and that Scotland would continue to be represented in the Council of Europe even after Brexit.

It says continuing to fly the flag would be "a sign of support and solidarity with those EU nationals who have made Scotland their home".

The SPCB considered flying the flag during the transition period, but ruled it out as the UK will no longer be an EU member state after 11pm on January 31.

The Scottish Tories said SNP ministers, who have scheduled a debate on their “top priority” of education in more than two years, had revealed their “true priorities”.

Scottish Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said: “The SNP isn’t even pretending to care about other issues now.

“Valuable time in the Scottish Parliament should be used to address the very severe problems in our hospitals or the crisis engulfing our education system.

“Instead, the nationalists want to revert to the only subject they excel in - stoking up constitutional division.

“It’s completely ridiculous that the governing party of Scotland is dominating business like this on two matters which have already been decisively resolved.

“But for them this isn’t about improving Scotland’s economy or public services, or even enhancing the prospects of the population.

“It’s about playing to the independence gallery, and trying to cause a ruckus between Scotland and England in the hope it pushes up support for separation.”

After the half-hour debate was confirmed, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said: “The SPCB’s decision-making is neither politically motivated nor reflective of any partial viewpoint.

“Its members serve as parliamentarians, not as representatives of the political parties.

We discussed the Scotland Act and the powers of the Parliament to direct the SPCB.

“It is entirely right and proper that the Parliament should have that power, but there was a clear desire from all members of the SPCB that our flag flying policy should not become a political issue for debate on the floor of the chamber.

“The corporate body recognises entirely the sensitivity that remains over Europe, but its decision is not a political one. Our flags reflect our relationships in law.”