THE UK Government has been accused of “clumsy control-freakery” after a letter sent to the devolved nations insisted that London be informed of all contact with the EU.

In his letter, Cabinet Secretary David Frost, who has never won a democratic election, demanded that he be informed of any contact the devolved governments have with EU institutions.

Frost stressed that he had “overall control” of the UK’s “relationship with the EU”, a position he was elevated to after being made a life peer by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He was previously the UK’s chief negotiator during the Brexit process.

The top Tory’s letter was sent to the governments in Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast, as well as the Chief Ministers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

It warns these various administrations against having any contact with the EU without informing Westminster of its “content”, something Frost claims will help the UK conduct its "international affairs" effectively.

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Reacting to the letter, Kirsty Hughes, the founder and director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said Frost’s real aim was to “inhibit” Scotland’s attempt to create links to other nations post-Brexit for fear it would build the case for independence.

The political commentator accused the UK Government of “crazed control-freakery”.

The National: kirsty hughes.

In a series of tweets, Hughes (above) said it was “perfectly normal” for regions and sub-states to have international offices and said the UK Government’s need to be informed of all goings-on was “more about rampant Tory Unionism, and fear of Scottish government para-diplomacy”.

She said this type of diplomacy, with Scotland already having hubs in Brussels, Berlin, Dublin and Paris, could “easily promote independence indirectly”.

Hughes went on: “Scotland as a serious, small European country/devolved government focused on trade, climate, rights, [and] well-being builds positive external relations and shows [an independent] Scotland will be an EU asset.”

She added: “Scotland is popular in EU, UK is not.”

Concluding her Twitter thread, Hughes wrote: “UK Government wants to inhibit Scottish Government from doing its best to build positive European and international relations despite Brexit.

“Ironically, this clumsy control-freakery is likely simply to increase understanding and appreciation of Scotland internationally.”

The National:

University of St Andrews professor and former SNP MP Stephen Gethins (above) praised Hughes’s contributions, adding: “Astonishing that we have an unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat (sitting as a Minister in the Lords) trying to tell elected Ministers accountable to devolved administrations what they can and can’t do.”

Scottish Tory MSP and external affairs spokesperson Donald Cameron accused the SNP government of attempting “to undermine” Frost’s Brexit negotiations.

He said this “remains the case as we continue our trading relationship outside the European Union”, adding: “The best chance of securing positive arrangements will come with a commitment from the SNP that they will work closely with the UK Government going forward in relation to any discussions with the European Union.”

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Cameron also asked Hughes to show “the part in the Frost letter which mentions European/international offices?” after her claim that the UK Government was “gearing up to pressure Scottish and other devolved admins on European and international offices”.

Cameron’s comments come just days after his party’s chief whip, Stephen Kerr, attacked the SNP’s spending money on such offices overseas.

Kerr called such spending “wasteful” and urged the UK Government to “ensure we do not see the Scottish Government spend any more on further additions” to their international network.

Frost also invited Scotland’s External Affairs Minister Angus Robertson and Wales Constitution Minister Mick Antoniw for a summit next month.

Frost said his team would be getting in touch with Scottish and Welsh officials ahead of the first joint Partnership Council meeting with the EU in early June.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland overwhelmingly supported remaining in the EU and despite the unwelcome reality of Brexit, the Scottish Government believes it is in everyone’s interests for the EU and UK to have as close a relationship as possible.

"The Scottish Government will continue to be a voice in favour of mutually beneficial co-operation and we will of course at all times continue to promote Scotland’s interests.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson added: “We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”