SCOTLAND’s servants are to defy an order by Boris Johnson’s government to stop attending EU meetings in Brussels.

Officials will continue travelling to the Belgium capital to feed into discussions on devolved issues such as agriculture, fishing and animal welfare.

The move highlights a breakdown in relations between the Scottish and UK Governments. They have been under considerable strain since the EU referendum in 2016 when Scotland voted to remain in the EU. They deteriorated when ex foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt refused Nicola Sturgeon diplomatic support during a visit to Brussels in June and worsened when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and last week moved to suspend parliament to force through a No Deal.

Last week The National revealed the Scottish Government had not been consulted on the decision taken by Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay for civil servants to stop attending most meetings in Brussels.

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He announced in August that from September British officials would only attend meetings at which the UK has “a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security”.

However, last night a Scottish Government spokesman said Scottish civil servants would continue to attend EU meetings in Brussels.

The spokesman said: “Scottish Government officials intend to continue representing Scotland’s position at relevant EU meetings, which is all the more important given the increasing threat of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit and the impact it would have. We are in urgent discussion with the UK Government to ensure its recent decision to reduce attendance at EU meetings does not affect that representation.”

A spokesman for Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said the decision to withdraw from the meetings was “typical” of the UK Government approach and it was particularly important for Scotland to be represented in Brussels given the current political and diplomatic situation. He said: “It is typical of the of the high-handed, arrogant and cavalier approach of this out of control Tory government that they should take this move. But as we are dragged ever close to a No-deal Brexit, it has never been more important for Scotland’s voice to be heard in Europe, and the Scottish Government will continue to engage as closely as possible with our European friends and neighbours.”

The National was alerted to the row last week with one insider saying Scottish civil servants heard of the decision by the UK Government to stop attending most meetings when they saw it in the press.

“The UK Government didn’t consult or even inform the Scottish Government before making the decision. The first they heard about it was through the media,” one senior figure told us.

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Announcing the decision last month Barclay said: “An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings, with attendance just the tip of the iceberg. Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.”

He said: “From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours. This will free up time for ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on 31 October and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.”

After the decision Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish External Affairs Minister, wrote to Barclay to raise concerns over a lack of consultation, saying: “It is clear beyond any doubt the UK Government should not take a decision on this possible step without proper involvement of the Scottish Government or other devolved administrations.”

Last night a DExEU spokesman said: “The Brexit Secretary spoke to Scottish Government Minister Fiona Hyslop ahead of the formal announcement being made. We’ve been clear we will attend meetings on issues which are significant to the UK’s continued interests.”