BORIS Johnson is to hold a new 'council of nations' meeting as part of his plans to level up the country.

Michael Gove announced the plans today, saying he hoped they would help to resolve issues between the UK and devolved governments and strengthen the power of the United Kingdom.

However critics have questioned how the new structure is any different to previous arrangements, with the government yet to put a specific timescale on how often the Prime Minister will meet with the leaders of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.

One Whitehall source told The Herald the meetings chaired by Mr Johnson may only take place once a year.

Currently a Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) Plenary session, which is a meeting attended by the Prime Minister and heads of devolved governments, is supposed to take place once a year however between 2002 and 2008 none were held.

The last meeting, according to records, appears to have taken place in 2018. Other meetings between high-level ministers have been held, particularly during the Brexit negotiation period.

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer said the new council sessions are the same as the existing ones and has questioned the validity of the announcement.

He said: "The Scottish Tories are revolting, and it now looks like they themselves are tired of being led by an unaccountable Westminster elite who don’t give two hoots about Scotland.

“The Prime Minister’s proposed solution to this mess is to reinvent a ‘council of devolved nations’ which already exists.

"The reason you could be forgiven for forgetting it’s there is because Boris Johnson and his predecessors regularly refuse to let it meet. The JMC was in effect useless because of the contempt in which the UK Government holds Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The past 24 hours prove that hasn’t changed."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton was also critical of the new plan, saying it was the "bare minimum" the public would expect to have the leaders of Scotland's two governments to meet.

He explained: "The embarrassing and petty rivalry between the SNP and the Conservative party has been holding back genuine progress for far too long.

"This feels like the bare minimum that should be expected of our two governments and whoever the next Prime Minister turns out to be, they should seek to build a new relationship with devolved administrations based on mutual respect."

The new plan will involve a Prime Minister-led council, as well as ministerial sub groups which are designed to "oversee and strengthen relations between all of the UK's governments".

Issues they may discuss will be those which affect people across the country where they cover devolved and reserved policy, or shared responsibility.

A team of civil servants from all four governments will also be involved.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said he was confident the new council meetings would help Holyrood and Westminster work better together.

He said: “Scotland has two governments, and people want to see them continue to work together to tackle Covid and drive our recovery.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Scottish and UK governments have worked closely together, to keep people safe, protect public services, and support businesses and jobs in Scotland.

“This important agreement will build on that and help strengthen cooperation further - as we work together to deliver the priorities of people in Scotland on jobs, prosperity and economic recovery.

“It also reflects the increased powers of the Scottish Parliament since 2016 and the UK’s vote to leave the EU.”

The Prime Minister added: "When Team UK pulls together in common cause, spirit and endeavour we will always be at our very best.

“We’ve shown time and time again the combined strength we have in facing off the shared challenges before us, while also seizing the opportunities ahead for the benefit of the whole United Kingdom.

“Today’s announcements build upon that strength as we all continue to work together to deliver for the British people.”