DOWNING Street has insisted the UK Govenment has not given up on trying to reach agreement with its counterparts in Wales and Scotland over changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill – even though it has said it will go ahead and table the amendments it plans to make.

UK ministers yesterday announced plans to table amendments to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, despite a continuing dispute with the Scottish and Welsh Governments over devolved powers.

Their amendments would see 24 powers repatriated from Brussels to the UK after Brexit go to Whitehall rather than Holyrood, even though they are in areas where the Scottish Parliament has responsibility. These include areas in agriculture, fisheries, food labelling and public procurement.

Scottish Brexit Minister Michael Russell said the move from the UK Government, “in the face of opposition from both the Scottish and Welsh governments, confirms the biggest power grab attempt on devolution since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. The UK Government is using Brexit to unilaterally rewrite the devolution settlement that the people of Scotland voted for so decisively in 1997.”

But Downing Street insisted the UK Government wanted to reach an agreement. Theresa May is set for talks with Scottish and Welsh First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones on Wednesday. “This is a very important piece of legislation for delivering a smooth Brexit and we continue to engage with the devolved administrations to reach agreement on this,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. “What we are focused on is reaching agreement, that’s where our intention is.”

Protesters are due to gather at Holyrood in 10 days’ time, for a Hands Off Our Parliament demonstration sparked by the “power grab”. Speakers will include Paul Kavanagh, The National’s own Wee Ginger Dug.

Organisers say they expect hundreds if not thousands in Edinburgh on March 23 to join in a massive human chain around the Scottish Parliamentary estate.