LIAM Fox has warned that the ongoing Salmond controversy is threatening to “bring politics in the whole of the United Kingdom into international disrepute".

In a dramatic intervention in the House of Commons, the former International Trade Secretary quoted the former First Minister’s attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s Government, telling MPs how Alex Salmond had accused the SNP administration of the “complete breakdown of the necessary barriers, which should exist between government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law”.

Dr Fox went on: “Madam Deputy Speaker, this would be damning in a tin-pot dictatorship but this is happening in a part of the United Kingdom.

“Given that the Scottish Parliament derives its authority from legislation passed in this Parliament, what mechanisms do we have to ensure that the conduct of the Scottish Government does not bring politics in the whole of the United Kingdom into international disrepute?"

Dame Eleanor Laing, the Deputy Speaker, said her fellow Scot had “raised some very significant issues concerning the relationship between the legislature, the executive and the court, that is the doctrine known as the separation of powers, which is the very bedrock of our constitutional settlement”.

She made clear it was not for the Chair to make any judgements about what Dr Fox had specifically referred to but added: “This House is, of course, always concerned with safeguarding democratic standards and I'm sure that he will use his ingenuity to find a way of bringing this matter once again before the House when it can be fully examined.”

Later, Dr Fox, who once worked as a GP in Glasgow, said: "If even a part of what Alex Salmond says is true, it represents an ethical collapse in Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government. 

"It is quite clear that the SNP’s poisonous infighting is being put ahead of the interests of the people of Scotland and damaging the political reputation of the Scottish Parliament itself. 

"Given that the legal authority for devolution comes from legislation passed by the Westminster Parliament, there will increasing demands for greater scrutiny about the governance of Scotland under the SNP,” he added.