RICHARD Leonard and Willie Rennie have dropped their party’s support for a compromise deal with the UK Government over the clauses in the EU Withdrawal Bill dealing with the transfer of devolved powers from Brussels post Brexit.

Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats joined the Tories last week in attacking the Scottish Government for refusing to compromise over the EU Withdrawal Bill – as the Labour Government in Wales had done – after it emerged Westminster was insisting on holding onto devolved powers being repatriated for up to seven years.

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Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird said on Wednesday: “Representatives from the Labour Government in Cardiff have been able to reach a deal ...We need this sort of grown-up politics from the Scottish Government too.”

The LibDems Europe spokesman Tavish Scott hit out too: “It appears that the Scottish Government have now departed from their Welsh counterparts in reaching an agreement that is badly needed ... We are now in a position where there is still division. Uncertainty for businesses and citizens continues. That is not in Scotland’s interests.”

But appearing before a House of Commons committee, sitting in Edinburgh yesterday, the two party leaders took a change of tack. Leonard and Rennie told MPs on the public administration and constitutional affairs committee that the current offer from UK ministers – which seems to revise the meaning of consent to consult was not good enough.

Leonard said: “I agree that there has been a degree of movement which has provided for people to now think about reaching a settlement. But I take the point that the definition of consent is problematic, and I think there are still knots in the bill as it stands that need to be untied.”

Rennie meanwhile said a different way of resolving disputes between governments was needed.

He said: “We need to create a level playing field across the UK for the Withdrawal Bill. Westminster having the final say isn’t sufficient. There needs to be some kind of mechanism, perhaps around qualified majority voting of some sort.”

The move follows interventions from former First Minister Henry McLeish who told The National last week that the UK Government did not understand Scotland, that the bill presented a major threat to Scottish interests and urged Labour not to be “ashamed of standing up for Scotland”. The UK Government want the Scottish Government to recommend that Holyrood gives consent to the Bill. If it refuses, however, the UK Government can still impose the Bill on Scotland.

During the committee session yesterday, Scotland’s Brexit minister Mike Russell said trust between the Scottish Government and UK Government had reached its “lowest ebb”.

He insisted that as it stands the bill would mean “the Scottish Parliament will have its legislative competence very substantially overruled for a substantial period of time, not just in the 24 areas that are likely to be the subject of frameworks, but in any other area that the UK Government chooses”.

However, he told the committee: “We’ve got ourselves I’m afraid to the stage where there is a very substantial lack of trust on both sides.”

He said: “What I think it does reflect regrettably is that the trust on which the relationship has to be based is at a pretty low ebb, probably the lowest ebb I have experienced.”

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green co-convener, has continued to give his backing to the Scottish Government. “The amendments which have been published remain incompatible with the devolution settlement, in particular the introduction of restrictions on the actions the Scottish Parliament or ministers can take,” he said.

The Scottish Conservatives are the only Holyrood party pressing ministers to sign up to the amendments published last week. Ash Denham, the SNP MSP said: “The Tories think they can do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it – but they risk being completely isolated. All parties – aside from the Tories – now recognise the EU Withdrawal Bill and the UK Government’s amendments have fundamental flaws, fail to respect the devolution settlement and require further compromise on the part of the UK Government.”