MICHAEL Gove has insisted that the UK Government spending extra funding for Scottish projects in devolved areas is “augmenting” rather than threatening the country’s constitution.

The UK Government’s Secretary for Levelling Up has stressed that his administration wants to “strengthen” devolution and said he would be happy for SNP ministers to “take the credit for good things that happen in Scotland”, even if the funding has come from the UK Treasury.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association, Mr Gove, who is also the UK Government’s Intergovernmental Relations Minister, confirmed Westminster’s levelling up fund has received bids from local councils across Scotland.

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Boris Johnson’s administration has faced criticism for planning to spend money in devolved areas of policy, such as transport infrastructure as part of the post-Brexit shared prosperity fund and the levelling up fund.

The Scottish Government has warned it is “beyond disappointed” by the stance taken by UK ministers.

But Mr Gove has said that “levelling up is intended to ensure that we make opportunity more equal across the United Kingdom”.

He added that the public in Scotland “need to see both governments serving them appropriately”.

Mr Gove said that Tory ministers in Westminster “want to work with the Scottish Government” to ensure that “it uses the powers that it has more energetically and more effectively”.

He added: “There are a number of areas where the Scottish Government, whether it’s led by Nicola or led by someone else, has the means to make a difference.

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“Devolution can work – the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament can serve the Scottish people better. It’s their priorities but we want to help them to deliver them.”

Mr Gove claimed that alongside the UK Government can spend more money north of the border “above and beyond” he Scottish Government's agreed funding settlement.

He said: “That seems to me to be a very good thing.

“It’s not bypassing the Devolution Settlement, it’s augmenting it.”

One project earmarked for UK Government intervention is plans to upgrade the A75 – a key route in south west Scotland.

Mr Gove was asked whether he would be happy to ignore the devolution of transport policy and press ahead regardless.

Mr Gove said: “Do we really think that a citizen in Stranraer, Whithorne or Lockerbie is going to say ‘oh well done, thank you so much – Scotland is stronger now that we’ve kept this road in its current conditions? No.

“It is practical cooperation. I think it would be odd if the SNP put ideology ahead of cooperation.”

Mr Gove was also asked about the Scottish Government being praised for the rollout of the vaccine and the furlough scheme – both UK Government policies with money sent to Holyrood through the Barnett formula.

He said that “it doesn’t matter” if the SNP take credit for the UK Government's levelling up agenda.

Mr Gove added: “I am more than happy for the Scottish Government ministers to take the credit for good things that happen in Scotland. I just want good things to happen in Scotland.

“If Kate Forbes gets the credit for investment in Scotland, great. That’s fine by me. My job is to make sure that the UK Government works for everyone.”