SCOTLAND’S Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has launched a scathing attack on the “extraordinary assertion” made by the UK Government that it is developing “new and innovative ways” to manage disagreements with the devolved administrations over Brexit.

In May, the Scottish Parliament refused to grant the EU Withdrawal Bill legislative consent by 93 votes to 30.

Labour, Green and LibDem MSPs backed the SNP’s case that Westminster holding on to 24 devolved powers returning to the UK from Brussels – including over the environment, farming and food safety – amounted to a “power grab”.

At the end of July, the cross-party Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons published a report into the future of devolution after the UK leaves the EU.

The Committee, chaired by Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, criticised the UK Government for failing to properly consult the Scottish and Welsh Governments before publishing the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The UK Government’s latest claims – its formal response to the committee report – were published on Friday. Its submission says: “We are considering new and innovative ways to manage disagreements, for example in the procedures for the use of the ‘freezing’ powers in section 12 of the Act. These recognise that the final decision on preserving an existing framework is a matter for the UK Parliament …”

Condemning the response, Russell said the UK Government is continuing to mount a power grab on devolved powers.

He told the Sunday National: “I have been clear that the EU Withdrawal Act is a power grab on the Scottish Parliament and I am disappointed by the response of the UK Government to this report. I do not accept that ‘the final decision’ on keeping current EU frameworks across the UK ‘is a matter for the UK Parliament’.

“In devolved areas that is a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”

The UK Government has been criticised by Holyrood ministers for its definition of how consent could be achieved with the powers being held at Westminster for up to seven years.

Russell said: “I reject the extraordinary assertion that the powers for UK Ministers to change devolved competence unilaterally are ‘new and innovative ways to manage disagreements’. These powers in fact allow the UK Government to ignore disagreements and impose their will in devolved matters.

“I have long said that current constitutional arrangements cannot bear the weight of Brexit, and that there is a risk of greater centralisation and control from Whitehall and Westminster. This response from the UK Government is further evidence of that.

“We are determined to protect the powers of the Scottish Parliament from these threats. I have written to the UK Government with proposals to strengthen the protections of our Parliament and I will be looking for discussions on these with UK ministers.”

The House of Commons report in July delivered a harsh assessment of how ministers and civil servants treat the devolved institutions in Edinburgh and Cardiff.