HOLYROOD bosses are being asked to spell out why they decided the European flag will be taken down from outside the Scottish Parliament on January 31.

Alex Orr, policy adviser to the European Movement in Scotland, has written to the members of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), who made the decision.

The body makes decisions on the running of Holyrood and is made up of an MSP from each political party and is chaired by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

It agreed the flag should be removed at 11pm on Friday January 31. The other five members are David Stewart, Liam McArthur, Andy Wightman, Sandra White and Ruth Davidson.

READ MORE: Scottish Government moves to stop EU flag being taken down at Holyrood

Amid speculation the members had disagreed, Wightman, the Scottish Greens’ MSP, said on Twitter on Thursday the decision was made unanimously.

Referring to a report on social media that the members had been split, he wrote: “This is not true. All members voted unanimously for the new policy (and we do not represent our parties on SPCB – we each represent the interests of all members).”

In his letter to SPCB members, Orr said he was bemused by the decision pointing out that the flag is also the emblem of the Council of Europe which the UK will remain in after Brexit.

“The flag is defined by the Scottish Parliament as the ‘European’ flag. This represents both the European Union and the Council of Europe,” he said. “We are indeed leaving the European Union, but not as far as I am aware the 47-member Council of Europe which is the continent’s leading human rights organisation.”

He went on: “The history of the flag goes back to 1955 when the present design was chosen by the Council of Europe. In the years that followed, it encouraged the emerging European institutions to adopt the same flag.

“In 1983 the European Parliament decided that the Communities’ flag should be that used by the Council of Europe. In 1985, it was adopted by all EU leaders as the official emblem of the European Communities, later to become the European Union. So, I for one would question why it is being removed?”

Meanwhile, an online petition to have the Holyrood decision reversed has gathered more than 800 signatures in less than a day with the petitioner Gary Paterson saying Scotland and its Parliament have rejected leaving the EU.

“Scotland, and its Parliament, voted emphatically to reject Brexit, the removal of the European flag stands against that expressed will of the majority of citizens and MSPs,” he said.

“This development seeks to underline the fact that we are leaving the EU, and merely placates those who would seek to force Scotland to accept a Brexit it didn’t vote for.”

The petition calls “on Members of the Scottish Parliament to make a decision to keep the European Flag flying from the Scottish Parliament.”

The decision has been met with criticism by many people in Scotland including the Brexit Secretary Mike Russell who described it as “wrong”.

He said on Twitter: “The flag is not only a symbol of our solidarity with the #27 and all EU citizens in Scotland, it also represents our wish as a nation to return to membership of a union we never voted to leave.”

READ MORE: Why Holyrood must keep flying the EU flag

Ministers are trying to get a debate in the Scottish Parliament in a bid to reverse the decision.

In his letter to MSPs, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said the SPCB had agreed that after Brexit, the Scottish Parliament “will no longer fly the EU flag on a daily basis”. He added Holyrood will still fly the Council of Europe flag on Europe Day “as a mark of our continued ties with that body”, adding the Parliament’s flag policy will now be “amended to reflect these decisions”.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The decision taken reflects the legal position that the UK will no longer be a member of the EU from January 31.”

The petition can be viewed here.