MICHAEL Gove has claimed the Scottish Government is undermining the Brexit process so that it can “smash up the United Kingdom”.

Speaking after a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU negotiations in Edinburgh, Gove hit out at the SNP.

The comments come after Scottish Brexit Secretary Michael Russell said the relationship between Westminster and the devolved administrations has deteriorated.

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Gove, who is in charge of No-Deal Brexit planning, said: “The overriding policy of the SNP is to smash up the UK and separate families. I sometimes wonder if, not just in rhetoric but in policy, the SNP is not thinking in the interests of Scottish citizens first, but are thinking in the interest of their own agenda.

"These issues are far too important to be politicised in that way and I hope that the wiser voices in the Scottish Government prevail in order to ensure that people do act where they need to act, in order to make sure that the sovereign decision that the United Kingdom’s electorate came to is honoured.”

Speaking about the meeting, which included representatives from Wales and the head of the civil service in Northern Ireland, Russell said: “I don’t think this was better than any of the other 19 meetings we’ve had. Nothing in this meeting improved our relationship. There’s nothing that changes the position we’ve had.

“We’ve had another change of government and that has become even more difficult, dealing with people who are ideologically fixated on coming out of the EU no matter the cost. That is a position that we profoundly disagree with.”

Gove insisted “progress was being made” on preparations. He added: “Mike is Mike. He’s a politician, but he’s also a smart guy. In the meeting he had some good, constructive discussions about practical issues.”