MINISTERS from the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have said the UK Government has "undermined" devolution by agreeing new trade deals which impact devolved issues.

The comments were made at a session of the cross-party, cross-industry UK Trade and Business Commission which met to hear evidence on the impact of new trade deals on the industries, businesses and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

Scottish and Welsh ministers criticised the UK Internal Market Act, passed last year, which enables the UK Government to overrule decisions made by devolved administrations on issues that have been devolved for decades.

The Tories were accused of leaving Scotland and Wales in the dark – with calls for structures to be put in place to allow the devolved nations a voice in trade deals.

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Ivan McKee MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Trade said: “The Internal Market Act is deeply problematic and it effectively attempts to roll back the powers of devolution rather than approaching this on a consensual basis, where we can all sit down and agree on frameworks and approaches that works for everyone.

“It’s very much about the UK Government taking the opportunity of Brexit to challenge the devolved governments with regards to the power and where our power lies and we do see that as deeply problematic.”

Vaughan Gething MS, Welsh minister for the economy, said: “The Internal Market Act is heavy-handed and has a very real potential to undermine 20 years of settled will on devolution.

"We’ve already seen it allows UK ministers to reach into devolved areas, to spend and make alternative choices, and actually that’s really unhelpful form a business point of view to have two governments competing in exactly the same space.

“Trade policy should not set domestic policy in areas that are devolved and have been for twenty years.”

The National: James Withers criticised the UK Government for failing to consult Scotland's food and drink sectorJames Withers criticised the UK Government for failing to consult Scotland's food and drink sector

During the session, representatives of key industries in the devolved nations cited the problems that have arisen from the post-Brexit trading environment and the fears that they will be further undercut in future trade deals.

They went on to say that despite their best efforts, they have had no meaningful engagement from the UK Government.

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James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said: “We have massively struggled to have engagement with the UK Government. We’ve tried for months now to have a meeting with Lord Frost … three times it's been in the diary and [three times] it's been cancelled.

“There is a massive nervousness that agriculture is sold down the river to secure a deal in financial services or car parts… There has been a lack of transparency, a lack of dialogue, and certainly a lack of recognition of the importance of some of these sectoral issues to devolved nations and we need structures to be able to reflect that.”

SNP MP Whitford added: "At every turn, this UK Government has done their utmost to roll back devolution and ignore the voices from Scotland and Wales who are best placed to tell them the cost of their ideological and misguided trade policy which has left fish rotting in containers and our exporters shutting up shop.

"If they continue this blind and bull-headed approach it will be at their own cost as well as ours.”

The National: Philippa Whitford accused the Tories of 'pork-barrel spending'Philippa Whitford accused the Tories of 'pork-barrel spending'

Whitford later accused the Tories of further undermining devolution in their attempts to replace the EU's structural funds through a Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).

The new fund will seek to replace the EU's structural funds which issued money directly to devolved nations.

SPF could see devolved government largely sidelined from how the money is spent as cash is given directly to councils.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross previously said he had “no problem bypassing the Scottish Government”.

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The Scottish Government later hit back claiming the move is a “significant threat to the devolution settlement”.

Whitford accused the Tories of “pork-barrel politics” over the funding plans.

She told The National: “When the Tories eventually get to their shared prosperity fund they plan to continue completely cutting out Holyrood.

“And you can't be sure that this funding is going to go to the best place because they're not using any of the recognised methods of identifying areas of need, whether it's social need, or economic development need.

“And what we've seen is a blatant pork-barrel politics of money being targeted towards Conservative constituencies.

The National: The session heard that the UK Government has undermined Scottish devolutionThe session heard that the UK Government has undermined Scottish devolution (Image: PA)

“I think it's really important that we try to get people to try and understand the extent to which devolution is being unwound and the extent to which the way they're setting up these funds is that they will blatantly use them for political gain, rather than using an objective measure of need.

“And if you actually look at what the budget is it's tiny in comparison to the European funds that have been lost in terms of trade."

Whitford said people don't realise the scale of the attack on devolution by Westminster as she warned Scots about the future of Holyrood.

She added: "Devolution is dead in the water when it is being wound back.

"You're talking about after two decades of devolution, you have a Tory party and a Tory government that are hollowing the devolution out."

The UK Government has been contacted for comment