UK ministers are under renewed pressure to lift their veto on a senior SNP politician taking up membership of an influential EU body.

Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell has demanded Chris McEleny be allowed to take up the role after his nomination made 15 months ago was blocked by the London department this summer.

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Councillor McEleny is the SNP group leader in Inverclyde, has stood twice as a candidate to become his party’s depute leader and has been a high profile campaigner for second independence referendum before 2021.

He was nominated by local authority umbrella group Cosla to be its representative on the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the EU’s assembly of local and regional representatives which was set up to give these organisations more input into the EU’s institutions.

Writing to his UK counterpart Dominic Raab, Russell suggested the failure to let McEleny take up the position had damaged Scottish engagement with Europe at a crucial time.

“I should add the length of time taken by the UK Government to achieve a resolution on the Scottish nominations has meant in practice that a significant contingent of Scottish representatives have been prevented from engaging with the CoR decision-making and deliberations at a critical time for Scotland’s place in Europe,”he said.

“I would be most grateful if you could reconsider the nomination of Cllr McEleny as a matter of urgency. The Scottish Government would like to see the nomination procedures resolved quickly to ensure Scotland’s interests continue to be effectively represented in the European Union at this crucial time.”

McEleny said in an interview in August he had been “blacklisted” after being barred from the body by a UK minister because of social media posts. He told the Sunday Herald: “By making this decision the UK Government is effectively saying it doesn’t matter who the people of Scotland elect if they disagree.”

In his letter to Raab this week, Russell said Cosla had renewed McEleny’s nomination and asked him to respect the decision.

“Following internal consultation, Cosla has confirmed to the Scottish Government the Convention’s unanimous decision to put forward once again Cllr McEleny as their nominee,” said Russell.

“The Convention has in addition requested the Scottish Government makes representations on their behalf on two particular issues.

“Firstly, while Cosla accepts UK ministers have a right to refuse nominations, in this case they believe that no evidence has been given to substantiate such a refusal. Cosla’s view therefore remains the same as 15 months ago, that Cllr McEleny has a potentially valuable role to play as one of Scotland’s representatives on the CoR.

“Secondly, while the Convention recognises the length of the nomination process for CoR appointments, they believe the appointment process for Councillors Keenan and McEleny, at over a year, was particularly excessive, and unprecedented.”

McEleny’s nomination was opposed by Brexit minister Lord Callanan who said in August his decision was “not connected to Councillor McEleny’s views on Scottish independence”.