NICOLA Sturgeon has accused Alister Jack of acting like a “governor-general” after he blocked Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Scotland’s First Minister was speaking at the Business for Scotland annual dinner in Glasgow on Thursday night, where she heavily criticised the UK Government’s move to stop the legislation getting royal assent.

The bill passed by 86 votes to 39, with members of all parties supporting the legislation. It allows transgender people to secure a gender recognition certificate without a medical diagnosis.

READ MORE: 'Absolute disgrace': Alister Jack snubs Holyrood committee invite

Arguing that the bill could impact on UK-wide equalities legislation, Jack issued a Section 35 order – which has never been used before in Scotland in the history of devolution.

Speaking at the dinner, Sturgeon said: “This week we’ve entered a new and more dangerous phase for devolution. The Tories have broken cover.

“The stealth attacks have been joined by a full-frontal assault – the decision of the Tory Government to strike down a law clearly within devolved competence which was passed overwhelmingly in the Scottish Parliament, and which was supported by MSPs from all parties.

“Through his actions the UK Government Secretary of State for Scotland is demonstrating he is sadly not interested in working in partnership. He’s decided to act like a governor-general: treating the Scottish Parliament as a subordinate body and deciding which democratic decisions and laws to veto."

A Scotland Office source described the language as a “cheap personal attack … unworthy of the First Minister”.

Historically, a governor-general was somebody sent to a British colony as a representative of Britain and the Crown.

On Thursday when pressed over whether he would revoke the Section 35 order, Jack argued “this is democracy”.

Jack went on to say the “ball is in [the Scottish Government’s] court”, suggesting it could “look at the legislation again”.

READ MORE: Even critics can see that blocking gender reform is undemocratic

In a statement earlier on Thursday, Scotland’s Social Security Secretary Shona Robison said the UK Government had been kept aware of the provisions in the bill throughout its progress through Holyrood, saying concerns were only raised in “the final moments” – an assertion a spokeswoman for the Westminster Government rejected.

“So for the Scottish Secretary to announce this week that he was unilaterally vetoing the bill is fundamentally disrespectful to Scotland’s Parliament and the MSPs who have been part of its scrutiny, consideration and passing,” Robison said.

And she was clear: “The Scottish Government is absolutely determined to vigorously defend the Bill and the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament.