THE Scottish Secretary has insisted SNP MP Deirdre Brock was "grumbling" when she raised concerns about Westminster bypassing the devolution with its Levelling Up Fund.

Earlier this week, Alister Jack told Edinburgh North and Leith MP Brock to "suck it up and go with the programme" when she raised fears about the funding of projects in her constituency which bypassed conversations with the Scottish Government.

Brock was told that the redevelopment of Granton Waterfront went through Edinburgh City Council but said Westminster should be dealing with the Scottish Government as well.

Jack said in response at the time: “We took the decision right at the beginning to practice real devolution and we’re standing by it so you ought to suck it up and go with the programme.”

When The National spoke to Jack at the Royal Highland Show on Thursday, he said he "actually" told her to "get with the programme". When it was pointed out he also told her to "suck it up", he replied: "Yes I did, of course". 

He then went on to say Brock – who told Jack his language was "not very ministerial" – was "grumbling" about the matter and "missing the point".

He said: "Deirdre was discussing a project of investment, I think, of £16 million into a regeneration project in Granton in her constituency, and I have been discussing further money with them from the Levelling Up Fund, and I told her that.

"But her gripe seemed to be that the UK Government had given the local authority in Edinburgh the money directly to put into the Granton regeneration project, and not given it to the Scottish Government first.

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"As I say, we were very clear in 2019 that structural funding would be given directly to local authorities, practising real devolution in Scotland because they can get to the local projects that needed it most.

"I’ve been very clear about that all the way through and that’s why when she was grumbling about this money not being detoured through the Scottish Government to get to her constituency, I think she’s slightly missing the point. I’m more interested in the regeneration of Granton."

Under the devolution settlement, Scotland receives a block grant every year and Holyrood ministers subsequently decide how to spend it on devolved matters.

Brock asked earlier this week who was responsible for the Levelling Up Fund, which aims to invest in infrastructure across the UK.

She asked about the number of staff working on the project in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh compared to people working in London.

Jack also commented on the First Minister's plans to announce a "route map" to indyref2 on Tuesday.

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He told the PA news agency the constitution is a reserved matter no matter what "wheeze" Nicola Sturgeon announces on her proposed path to another vote.

The UK Government has repeatedly rejected a section 30 order – a clause in the Scotland Act that would allow for a legal referendum to be held.

Jack was asked about the paper published by the Scottish Government last week, the first in a series of documents intended to form its renewed prospectus for independence.

He said: “The first paper was what she called a scene-setter, I responded saying we’ve seen it all before.

“There was nothing new there, there may be new things to come forward. But our position is not to get engaged in constitutional wrangling with the Scottish Government.

“We want to focus on the people’s priorities, on inflation rising, on the cost of living challenge, on the war in Ukraine.

“Those are the issues we would like to focus on and we would like the Scottish Government to focus on their issues – failing schools, the backlog in the NHS or on Covid.”

Asked if a different wording of the proposed question on independence would change his mind, he said: “I’m going to cross that bridge when I come to it.

“I don’t know what wheeze she’s going to come up with on Tuesday but I’m very clear that the constitution, rather like Trident and our nuclear deterrent, these matters are reserved very clearly in the 1998 Scotland Act, they’re reserved to the Westminster Government.”

On rural matters, given his attendance at the Royal Highland Show in Ingliston, Jack was asked about the impact of Brexit and the changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol on farming.

He said: “We are dealing with the Northern Ireland Protocol through green and red channels, which we think is a very sensible way to solve the problem.

“Regarding Brexit, since Brexit, we’ve seen a rise in prices in milk, in lamb, in beef, so although costs have gone up, farmers are seeing the prices they get for their produce going up.”

He said the UK Government is working to bring down energy costs, which would help farmers through the prices of commodities like fertiliser.