THE SCOTTISH Government has vowed to thwart Westminster's plans for an internal trade bill "at every stage" of the process.

In a scathing statement Mike Russell MSP said his party would be legislating against the plans announced yesterday by the UK Government, which the SNP considers an attempt at a "power grab" from Holyrood.

The 106-page Internal Markets white paper published by Downing Street sets out plan for regulating trade within the four nations of the UK and includes a “mutual recognition” agreement which would see goods move freely within the country.  

Even if Scotland or Wales upheld different standards for goods or services, they would still have to accept them from England.

The SNP argues this could mean Scottish supermarkets would have to stock food products such as chlorinated chicken, even if it were considered inferior by the Scottish Government.

Following a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee this afternoon, attended by Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Mr Russell, the MSP said: " The UK Government’s proposals are nothing more than a blatant attempt at a power grab which would strip responsibilities from the Scottish Parliament and undermine the very basis of the devolved arrangements voted for by the people of Scotland which have been in place for the last 20 years.

“As such, it is the biggest threat to devolution since the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999, and nothing that UK Government Ministers have said in our discussions today gives me any confidence that that is not the case.

“The Scottish Government now intends to publish a full rebuttal of these proposals and then debate that document in the Scottish Parliament – and we will recommend that the Parliament refuses to give the legislative consent which it will need.

“We will also now review our work on joint frameworks given the negative impact these proposals will have on them, and furthermore we will seek alignment with EU standards including via the Continuity Bill which we intend to have on the statute book by the end of the year.

“We will actively oppose the UK Government’s proposals at every opportunity, including at every legislative stage, and pursue every avenue to challenge the Bill should it pass – no one should be in any doubt about our determination to defend the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the founding principles of devolution.”  

A row has been brewing over the new legislation as Westminster officials say it will result in a “power surge” for Holyrood, as well as for the devolved governments in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland would receive more than 111 new powers under the measures, claims Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

However, Mr Russell branded the promises “a lie”, and said many of the powers are already within Holyrood’s remit.

Following the JMC meeting, Mr Gove said: "Earlier this afternoon I met with my counterparts from the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I’m determined that we continue to work together and collaborate, even on areas where we disagree, in the interests of people across the United Kingdom.

"We discussed the powers flowing back to the administrations in Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont, and our proposals to support jobs and investment as we recover from Covid-19, as well as how we could work more closely together in future."

In a letter sent to Mr Russell on Wednesday, Mr Gove accused the MSP of "significantly misrepresenting" the Government's plans.

Business leaders, including the leaders of both the Scottish and British chambers of commerce  said they would take part in the consultation on the internal markets proposals, and urged devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the UK Government to work together for the sake of businesses and residents.