SCOTLAND Office minister Iain Stewart struggled to answer questions on Westminster’s power grab on the devolved nations during an interview with Good Morning Scotland.

Stewart voted in favour of the legislation, which passed its first House of Commons hurdle earlier this week. The First Minister has warned the bill aims to “cripple” devolution – and that Scottish independence is now the only way to protect the Scottish Parliament.

The bill – which the UK Government has admitted will break international law – is opposed by all Holyrood parties besides the Scottish Tories.

The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted to reject the proposals by 92 votes to 31.

There are fears that devolved areas could be under threat from the legislation, such as food safety, minimum pricing, environmental policy and animal health and welfare.

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Yesterday, following the vote on the legislation, Constitution Secretary appeared before the Future Relationship with the European Union Committee. He was asked about Westminster’s co-operation with Holyrood on Brexit matters.

Russell said co-operation had become “significantly worse” since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and added there is “absolutely” no trust left in Scotland’s relationship with the UK Government.

Stewart was asked if work was underway to improve relations during his BBC appearance.

Laura Maxwell said the Internal Market Bill is “widely seen” as centralising powers to London – to which Stewart replied: “Well firstly the UK Internal Market Bill is not about centralising powers, it increases devolution, it increases the devolved settlement in Scotland.”

The journalist then pointed out that market access rules would mean “laws brought in in England would have to be introduced right across the UK, the devolved administrations, even if they didn’t want those introduced”.

Stewart scrambled to speak over her before telling listeners: “This is manufactured grievance from the separatists. They don’t like it –“

Maxwell laughed, telling the MP he was not correct. “I’m reading from a piece that’s been written by Professor Nicola McEwan of the Centre for Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University.”

There was a pause before the minister started to repeat his earlier comment. “This bill increases the powers of the Scottish Parliament. It protects Scottish businesses. Their ability to trade unfettered throughout the whole United Kingdom.”

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Stewart was read further examples from McEwan’s paper, which warned that efforts to reduce obesity by reducing sugar content in food and advertising this on labels could be hampered by the measures in the Internal Market Bill.

But the minister insisted this was a “scare story”, adding that fears over minimum alcohol pricing are also unfounded.

Rather than respond to the concerns from the paper Stewart instead took aim at Russell, saying the Constitution Secretary was trying to “manufacture grievance” during yesterday’s committee meeting.

McEwan has been contacted for comment.