JEREMY Hunt is "making the case for independence" by cutting off support for the First Minister's foreign trips, Nicola Sturgeon's spokesman has said.

The PM hopeful said he can no longer sign off on help for trips that "give a platform for independence" amid a row between the Foreign Office and the Scottish Government.

Hunt said the First Minister's office would no longer routinely get help from Foreign Office officials to set up meetings with foreign officials and politicians.

But a spokesman for Sturgeon said Hunt's comments are helping the case for independence. 

He added: "If Jeremy Hunt's position is that Scotland shouldn't be afforded the same level of representation overseas as rUK, then he's making our case for us –he's making the argument for independence and for Scotland to represent itself internationally."

READ MORE: Hunt withdraws help for FM's trips that 'give a platform for independence'

It follows the revelation that support was withdrawn for a trip to Brussels earlier this month in response to concerns about Sturgeon's summer visit to the US and Canada last year.

"I believe in the Union with every fibre of my being and British government policy is to protect, preserve, cherish and enhance that Union," the Foreign Secretary said.

"So we are not going to offer support to Nicola Sturgeon if she goes abroad to drum up support for independence, and that is exactly why I am the Prime Minister that she least wants because she knows I won't allow our Union to be broken up."

The comments sparked outrage online – and not just from allies of the SNP.

READ MORE: Even unionists shocked by Foreign Office plan to withhold support for Sturgeon

Until now, Scottish ministers have routinely been able to get help setting up travel and meetings, and have had the use of facilities at British Embassies and consulates.

That will now be restricted to trips touching on "areas for which [Scottish ministers] have a devolved responsibility" and where they "avoid supporting activities intended to campaign for policies contrary to [the UK] Government's position".