A FORMER Labour cabinet minister has warned that the Union could be threatened if the UK Government fails to protect the role of the devolved administrations in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Lord Murphy of Torfaen said that otherwise the movements for independence in Scotland and towards a united Ireland would get stronger.

And a fellow peer said the devolution settlement "is now in clear and present danger".

Lord Murphy's comments came in a House of Lords debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which enables the UK to leave the EU on January 31.

Former Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said that if there were to be changes to the devolution settlement as a result of Brexit, they must be dealt with in a "proper constitutional manner".

READ: Alex Rowley backs Scotland's sovereign right to decide its own future

The independent crossbencher, told peers that outside the EU the "spirit as well as the letter of the devolution settlements" must be followed by the Government.

Backing calls for the devolved governments to be consulted and have their established roles protected, Lord Murphy said: "Unless we get the devolution settlement post-Brexit right, it will threaten the Union.

"The Government talks about the precious Union all the time. But that Union can be threatened if we don't take seriously the devolved administrations in their role within the UK.

"If it doesn't work, the movement for independence in Scotland will get even stronger and the possible movement towards a united Ireland ... as well."

Lord Murphy said the best way to prevent that happening and strengthen the union was to respect the devolution settlement in the legislation.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, the former diplomat who penned the legal text used by Britain to leave the EU, said: "The devolution settlement is now in clear and present danger. It is very important that we should be delivering on the sort of fine words and undertakings that have been made by successive spokesman from the frontbench, but are not perceived in Cardiff or in Edinburgh to have been delivered on."

Responding for the Government, Tory frontbencher Earl Howe claimed: "The Government is fully committed to proper engagement with the devolved administrations. The mechanisms for dialogue and full engagement are already well established."

Later, leading lawyer Lord Anderson of Ipswich warned of provisions in the legislation he said would give law-changing powers to ministers, that would enable them to "selectively neuter the protections given by law to workers, consumers, disadvantaged groups and the environment".

The independent crossbencher argued leaving the measures unchanged would amount to "a dereliction of duty".