A UK minister has been told his government is showing “blatant disregard” for devolution as he appeared before a Holyrood committee.

Environment Secretary George Eustice was grilled on the UK Internal Market Act at an evidence session on the impact of Brexit, held by the Rural Affairs Committee.

Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess asked the Tory MP about the legislation, saying it had “repeatedly prevented this parliament and its committees from doing their job to protect our environment”.

She said it had approved the introduction of GM crops and prevented a ban on plastic wet wipes.

READ MORE: Michael Gove told UK Internal Market Act risks undermining devolution

Burgess asked: “Why does your government have such a blatant disregard for devolution?”

Eustice said he did not agree with this claim, saying the UK Government had not sought to stop the Scottish Government from introducing a ban on single-use plastics earlier than the rest of the UK.

He said: “There’s nothing though, in the UK Internal Market Act that constrains in any way, the type of policies that Scotland is now exploring when it comes to agriculture policy.”

This included enhanced environmental requirements and woodland creation, he said, arguing that EU rules would have granted less freedom.

Eustice continued: “There’s much more freedom for Scotland now to pursue its environmental ambitions.”

READ MORE: Scottish Government accuses Tories of 'systematic attack' on devolution

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan asked Eustice how he responded to concerns that measures such as the Subsidy Control Act and Internal Market Act will impact on the ability of Holyrood to legislate in areas such as GM crops.

The UK Environment Secretary said: “I hear the point they make. I think what we all understand is there an internal market in the UK, just as there used to be single market in the EU.

“So there does need to be some sort of parameters and there does need to be some sort of subsidy control regime, but the one we have for the UK is far more liberal and permissive than anything that existed in the EU.

“Yes there are those constraints to protect the UK internal market, but I think they are very mild and proportionate.”

Following the evidence session, Greens MSP Burgess said: “The Scotland Act clearly states that protecting Scotland’s environment is a devolved matter and a core responsibility of the Scottish Government.

“Time and time again, Eustice and his fellow partygate apologists have shown complete disregard for the Scotland Act and the Scottish Parliament.

“The Tories simply don’t care about the environment and they are happy to drag down the high standards which we have worked so hard to establish.”

Eustice was also asked about the impact of a potential trade war with the EU resulting from changes to the Northern Ireland protocol – but he claimed the use of such a term was “media hype”.

READ MORE: Northern Ireland protocol: Boris Johnson ramps up threats against EU over crisis

He told MSPs: “All this speculation around trade wars, we think is deeply unhelpful.

“In fact, I think what we’re seeing is a more measured tone from the European Union and indeed from ministers in Ireland as well.

“People recognise that there’s a challenge here we need to resolve and there’s nothing that we are proposing that breaches international law, it’s consistent with our obligations.

“But we also do need to get politics restored in Northern Ireland.”

He continued: “It would be a very extreme step if they (the EU) were to give notice to abandon the whole Trade and Cooperation Agreement when we’re only seeking to correct the approach on things like Scottish seed potatoes having access to the Northern Ireland market, which is a perfectly reasonable thing for us to do.”