MIKE Russell has warned Theresa May not to bully Scotland into giving up devolved powers and forcing it to become a “cheerleader for Brexit” as relations between the UK and Scottish Governments hit a new low.

The Scottish Brexit minister criticised a speech yesterday by David Lidington – the Prime Minister’s defacto deputy – as like “a hangover from the indyref in 2014” which invoked the Unionist campaign’s “false promises of prosperity”.

READ MORE: Mike Russell: In 2014 Scotland was persuaded by warnings and false promises – look what’s happened since

Lidington caused uproar north of the Border yesterday when he claimed in a newspaper article that the SNP would be to blame if the UK was unable to forge international trade deals once it had left the European Union.

Russell’s response followed Lidington’s speech in Wales yesterday afternoon in which the Tory minister, who backed Remain, claimed UK strength and prosperity was based on unity among its four nations – claims previously used by the Unionist camp ahead of the September 2014 vote.

The Scottish minister suggested a positive relationship established at last week’s meeting between the UK and devolved Governments, held to discuss the repatriation of devolved powers from Brussels, no longer existed.

“David Lidington in his role as chair of the joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations told me to my face in Thursday he is still keen to secure a deal with the Scottish and Welsh Governments and is determined to go on discussing it with us,” Russell said.

“I supported my Welsh colleague on the committee Mark Drakeford in agreeing we would continue to meet and said so publicly afterwards. But today Lidington has gone to Wales to lambast us and our Governments because we refuse to be brow beaten and bullied into giving up our existing powers and cheerleading for Brexit, even though he himself called Brexit “confusing contradictory nonsense” only two years ago.”

He added: “Much of what Lidington said sounded like a hang over from the Indy Ref in 2014 – more false promises of prosperity if we stick together and dire warnings about what will happen if we don’t. Last time, by a small majority, Scotland was persuaded to listen to that – and look what happened.”

Russell warned Lidington the Scottish Government would not approve a deal to secure a legislative consent motion for the EU Withdrawal Bill if it contained any aspect which reduced devolved powers. During his Road to Brexit speech Lidington insisted the UK Government had made a “considerable offer” to the devolved administrations with a commitment the “vast majority” of powers returning from Brussels would start off in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast rather than Whitehall.

He said his proposals would mean “a very big change to the EU Withdrawal Bill that is before Parliament and a significant step forward in these negotiations”.

He added a “divided country at home” would be “weaker, less secure and less prosperous overseas”.

Lidington said: “Leaving the EU presents many challenges for our centuries-old union story – and opportunities too. Some want to use this as an excuse to loosen these ties that bind us together or even sever them completely. I believe such an outcome would leave every one of our four nations both weaker and poorer.”

Russell has repeatedly criticised a lack of engagement by the UK Government with Scotland over Brexit and yesterday said it was “unacceptable for the Tories to unilaterally rewrite the devolution settlement”. He added: “We are not opposed to UK-wide arrangements on issues such as food labelling when they are in Scotland’s interests – but the fundamental point of principle is that any changes to the powers of the Scottish Parliament, permanent or temporary, can only be made with the agreement of Holyrood.”

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said the EU Withdrawal Bill was an “an attack on devolution in both Wales and Scotland.”