BEWARE the great Westminster Brexit cash grab, the SNP has warned, after a new report suggested the UK Government could use the Barnett Formula to slash spending after leaving the EU.

The damning report from the House of Lords EU committee also criticised Theresa May’s “top-down” approach to Brexit, and called on the UK to “raise its game” in how it works with the devolved assemblies.

Peers said it was clear May and Brexit Secretary David Davis were not treating the Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations) “with respect”.

READ MORE: Conservative backbenchers call on May to get rid of ‘donkey’ Brexiteers if she wants their support

The report on Brexit and the devolved assemblies says if the UK Government seeks to use the Barnett Formula, based on population rather than need, to replace EU funding, which is based on need rather than population, it could lead to a massive cut in agricultural subsidies.

The National:

The Lords quote the NFU Scotland who warn: “If the Barnett Formula were applied to farming support post-Brexit, Scotland’s share of support would be cut from some 16 per cent of the overall UK total to eight or nine per cent.”

This, the Lords say, means that reform of the Barnett Formula can be “delayed no longer”.

The SNP reject that.

Other recommendations in the report include calls for a better relationship between Whitehall and the governments in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.

This, they say, should include more preparation for the joint meetings, bilateral discussions ahead of meetings, a structured work programme, greater transparency “and a willingness to accept that the JMC (EN), even if not a formal decision-making body, is more than a talking-shop”.

The Lords suggest the JMC “should be authorised to agree common positions on key matters affecting devolved competences in time to inform the UK Government’s negotiating position”

However, the committee had little time for the Scottish Government’s proposals to remain a member of the single market as part of the European Economic Area, even after the rest of the UK leaves.

They call it “politically impracticable, legally highly complex and economically potentially disruptive to the functioning of the UK single market”.

They add: “Nevertheless, we urge the Government to respect the particular circumstances in Scotland. While we acknowledge that the referendum was a UK-wide vote, giving a UK-wide result, the Government needs to recognise the fact that the vote to remain in Scotland, at 62 per cent, was the largest and most decisive (either in favour of remaining or leaving) in any nation of the UK.”

The peers say that the “integrity and efficient operation of the UK single market must be an over-arching objective for the whole United Kingdom” during the Brexit process – but add “that objective does not preclude differentiated arrangements for Scotland in some areas, and nor does it justify excluding the Scottish Government from the Brexit process”.

They conclude by saying “the statutory balance of competences between the UK Parliament and the devolved legislatures should as far as possible be unchanged.

“This is not the time to embark on controversial domestic constitutional reform, either by conferring additional competences upon the devolved institutions or by ‘re-reserving’ competences previously devolved.”

Scottish Brexit Secretary Michael Russell said: “This report makes clear Brexit should not be used as cover for a ‘power grab’, and that powers in areas such as fisheries, agriculture and environmental protection should be returning from Brussels to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast – not Westminster.

“But just as there should be no power grab, there should be no attempt to use Brexit to cut Scotland’s budget, and under the current constitutional arrangements the Scottish Government supports the retention of the Barnett Formula.”

The National:

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “If there is not a clear presumption of devolution, Labour has been clear that our MPs will not support this Bill in the Commons.”

SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins said: “The UK Government wants to use leaving the EU as cover to grab powers from the Scottish Parliament. This report shows there is now a real threat of a cash grab alongside a power grab.”

“Scotland’s farm payments must be protected – but the answer cannot be to rip up the Barnett Formula and slash Scotland’s budget for public services.”