THE governments in London and Edinburgh will still seek to reach an agreement on the key Brexit legislation going through Westminster, despite the launch of a major legal battle over alternative bills passed by Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly.

The First Minister’s spokesman told journalists yesterday discussions were continuing between the two sides, though no ministerial meetings were currently planned.

His comments came as the UK Government announced it was making a legal challenge to the Scottish and Welsh governments’ EU Continuity Bills, passed last month.

The two devolved parliaments passed their own legislation that is intended to act as an alternative to the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill and prevent what they regard as a “power grab” by Westminster to take control over various devolved areas, including food standards, animal welfare and farm payments, heading from Brussels post Brexit.

Asked about whether talks between the Scottish and UK Governments over the Westminster legislation would continue following the court action, the First Minister’s spokesman said: “Meetings and discussions continue on that front. I wouldn’t say necessarily that we are any closer to agreement, but obviously it’s related to the Continuity Bill.”

The Scottish Government’s EU Continuity Bill received the backing of all SNP, Labour and Green MSPs and most LibDems in Holyrood. Only the Tories and a solitary LibDem MSP voted against the bill.

However, it was passed following an unprecedented dispute between the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer and Scotland’s top lawyer on whether it fell within Holyrood’s competencies. Ken Macintosh said he believed the legislation was outwith Holyrood’s remit, while the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, disagreed. Elin Jones, the presiding officer of the Senedd, ruled AMs could pass the legislation under their existing powers.

The UK Government yesterday stepped it to ask the Supreme Court to rule whether the legislation is constitutional and within devolved powers.

Lord Richard Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland, said: “By referring the Scottish Parliament’s Continuity Bill to the Supreme Court, we are seeking legal certainty as to its competence.

“Given the presiding officer’s view at introduction that the bill was not within the legal scope of the parliament, we believe it is important to ask the court to provide absolute clarity.

“In doing so we are following the process set out in the Scotland Act 1998. Particularly in the run up to Brexit, it is vital that we avoid legal uncertainty in our statute book.”

Scottish Brexit Minister Michael Russell said: “The Scottish Government has made clear it cannot recommend the Scottish Parliament consent to the Withdrawal Bill in its current form. Alongside the Welsh Government, we have always said our preference would be to reach an agreement with the UK Government to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill to respect the powers of the devolved administrations and both governments are ready to continue meaningful talks to further discuss potential solutions.”

“While the Scottish Government is not opposed to UK-wide frameworks in certain areas when these are in Scotland’s interests, this must only happen with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We’ve been clear that we supported the Continuity Bill and its emergency passage through the Scottish Parliament because we think devolution itself is at stake.We are in regular contact with our Labour colleagues in the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh Government, we have worked with them closely through the parallel passage of the legislation through the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament

“Having voted for that legislation, we believe the challenge to it should be stoutly resisted in the courts.”