MICHAEL Gove has been challenged on his eleventh-hour decision to cancel an appearance before the Scottish Affairs Committee.

As the UK Environment Minister, the Edinburgh-born MP had been scheduled to speak at the cross-party panel’s inquiry into the future of farming for six weeks. However, he pulled out of yesterday’s session just the day before it was due to start.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart, who chairs the Westminster body, has now written to Gove on the matter, branding the last minute change “discourteous”.

Wishart’s letter was disclosed following a charged session in which Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing was accused of “bluster” and giving “non-answers” by Tory MPs.

READ MORE: MSPs to quiz Michael Gove over Tory threat to devolution

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont and his Conservative counterpart David Duguid, who serves Banff and Buchan, challenged the Government minister on his evidence.

On migrant workers, Duguid said SNP “scaremongering” was being “transmitted” to potential incomers and deterring them from coming to Scotland, exacerbating recruitment problems for producers. And on post-Brexit farming payments, Lamont said Ewing was delivering “bluster” instead of answering questions.

Appearing via video link from Holyrood, Ewing defended his approach to the questioning and expressed “regret” about Lamont’s position.

On the importance of post-Brexit migration to rural businesses, he said: “Over 90% of vet staff in abattoirs are from the EU. If you can’t run abattoirs, there is no farming, there is no meat production.

“If you don’t have people working in fish processing, you can have all the fish in the world, but no-one is there to process them so the more fish will be landed in Norway.

“If you don’t have people working in forestry then how do we meet the targets which we hope we will do quite shortly to contribute to [tackling] climate change.”