THE UK Government is using the cover of Brexit to “impose direct Westminster rule by stealth” north of the border, Angus Robertson has said.

The SNP Constitution Secretary made the claim as he published a Scottish Government paper on the wide-ranging impact of the EU referendum on devolution.

The Scottish Tories called it a "self-indulgent waste of taxpayer money".

The 16-page document said there had been “fundamental changes” in the relationship between the governments in Edinburgh and London since the Leave vote of 2016.

These included the UK Government passing laws in breach of the Sewel Convention, which says Westminster will not normally legislate in devolved areas without Holyrood’s consent.

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The paper said this had been breached in respect of nine UK laws since 2016, although the UK Government disputed that Holyrood’s consent was needed in two of the cases.

The “most significant” was the UK Internal Market Act which enforces common trading rules across the four nations of the UK, although EU membership did much the same.

It was “the most wide-ranging constraint imposed on devolved competence since 1999 and undermines the Scottish Parliament’s ability to make laws for Scotland in devolved areas”, the paper said.

The UK Internal Market Act has been a key element of the cross-border row over the Scottish Government’s delayed deposit return recycling scheme (DRS).

UK ministers decided that if Scotland had glass recycling as part of its DRS it would create “permanent divergence” in the UK market, and so imposed restrictions excluding glass.

That led the Scottish Government to delay its DRS until at least October 2025.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has denied the Internal Market Act erodes devolved power, calling it a “protector of devolution” which maintains the UK’s single market.

The Scottish Government paper also said UK Ministers have given themselves new powers to intervene in devolved areas, effectively diluting Holyrood’s powers.

London was also bypassing Holyrood to distribute money directly in Scotland, such as the Levelling Up funding going to Scottish councils.

The paper also claimed the UK Government’s approach had been behind challenges to Holyrood over child rights and gender reform, although neither were related to Brexit.

It said the overall conduct by the UK Government showed a “worrying trend”, reducing Holyrood’s powers and imposing decisions made in London on Edinburgh. 

“Ultimately these developments can frustrate the purpose of devolution and risk making the settlement practically unworkable.

“Put simply, the evidence set out in this paper shows there cannot be true self-government under a devolution settlement that retains Westminster’s supremacy over the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament.”

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According to metadata on the document, its author was a lead civil servant on the Scottish Government’s constitutional policy team.

Mr Robertson added: “The Scottish Parliament was set up because people in Scotland voted for it, but the Westminster government is rolling back on that democratic process.

“Under the cover of Brexit, they are imposing direct Westminster rule by stealth and curtailing the ability of the Parliament to take decisions for the benefit of people in Scotland.

“What we have seen so far is the thin edge of the wedge. UK Government ministers have given themselves the power to subject healthcare and water services in Scotland to UK-wide so called "market access” principles.

“The evidence the Scottish Government is presenting today sets out the range of underhand mechanisms UK Government ministers are using to undermine the democratically elected Scottish Parliament and exert tightening Westminster control on Scottish life.

“I hope that this evidence will be used by all those who value the Scottish Parliament and wish to protect this essential national democratic institution.”   

Tory MSP Donald Cameron MSP: “It’s a self-indulgent waste of taxpayer money for Angus Robertson to commission civil servants to write a paper rehashing the same tired, unfounded SNP grievances against the UK government.

“The Cabinet Secretary is desperately trying to spin the line that devolution is under attack, rather than accept any responsibility for the failings of the SNP-Green coalition when it comes to delivering on the day-to-day priorities of people in Scotland.

“The SNP’s objection to UK government Levelling Up grants to Scottish communities lays bare their true motives.

“This is all about the SNP stoking grievance and division with the UK government in pursuit of their own separatist agenda.

“If they want to do that with their own time and money, fine. But they shouldn’t be using public resources to do so.”