A NEW Boris Johnson-chaired council of devolved leaders aimed at bolstering the Union “will not deliver the step change needed” to improve intergovernmental relations, the Deputy First Minister has said.

John Swinney hit out after the Tory government praised a “landmark agreement” to create a new council and committee system aimed at changing the way in which the central Westminster administration works with the devolved nations.

The SNP MSP said that the much lauded announcement was in fact just a “rebranding of existing structures”.

The Welsh Government echoed Swinney in saying that the real test for the new structure will be whether the Tories follow “the spirit of the review, based on respect”.

Revealing its Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Review, the Tories said the plans would help the four governments work together with the principles of “mutual respect, maintaining trust and positive working”.

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The three-tier structure will have the council chaired by the Prime Minister at its head. The second tier will consist of two committees. One will be chaired by the Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, currently Michael Gove, while the second will focus on finance.

The UK Government said there would also be the ability to create time-limited committees agreed by consensus to deal with specific issues as required. These would also sit on the second tier.

The third tier will then be made up of “Interministerial Groups” led by individual departments, which will cover a wide range of policy issues within a given minister’s or department’s portfolio.

The new structures will reportedly be supported by an independent secretariat made up of civil servants seconded from all four governments, and will serve the UK Government and its devolved counterparts equally.

However, the SNP/Green government in Edinburgh said that without a change in the substance of the engagement from Boris Johnson’s Tories, the announcement would mean little.

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This rebranding of existing structures will not deliver the step change in attitude and behaviour from the UK Government that is needed if there is to be a genuine improvement in intergovernmental relations – what is urgently needed is a corresponding change in the substance of engagement.

“The UK Government’s handling of Brexit, and imposition of the UK Internal Market Act 2020 which reduces the powers of the Scottish Parliament, despite explicit refusal of consent under the Sewel convention, show that procedural improvements alone are not enough to reset the relationship.

“The real test will be whether the UK Government is capable of delivering the goodwill and trust for improved intergovernmental relations and that the proposed arrangements lead to more meaningful engagement with productive outcomes.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have been calling for shared governance of the UK and a change to the way in which the UK Government works with the devolved governments.

“This package of reforms includes new structures and processes to enable meaningful engagement. The test will be whether the UK Government follows the spirit of the review, based on respect, so that this new approach serves all governments equally and fairly.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “When team UK pulls together in common cause, spirit and endeavour we will always be at our very best.

“We’ve shown time and time again the combined strength we have in facing off the shared challenges before us, while also seizing the opportunities ahead for the benefit of the whole United Kingdom.

“Today’s announcements build upon that strength as we all continue to work together to deliver for the British people.”

Michael Gove said that the "landmark agreement will build on the incredible amount of collaboration already taking place between the UK Government and the devolved administrations".