ALISTER Jack has claimed that Scottish Government ministers have actively “sought conflict with Westminster, simply to further their goal of separation”.

The Scottish Secretary said that the election of a new SNP leader, who will then go on to become Scotland’s sixth first minister, offered a chance to “reset” the relationship with politicians in Westminster.

Back in January, it was Jack who blocked the passing of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from becoming law despite it being overwhelmingly passed by MSPs.

Although he said he would have “fundamental political differences” with whoever the SNP’s new leader is, he stressed it should not stop the two governments working together.

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He said: “Whoever wins the leadership election tomorrow faces a fundamental choice which will define their time as first minister.

“It is fair to say that they and I will have fundamental political differences. But this should not, must not, be an obstacle to us working together in the interests of Scottish families and businesses.

“Too often in the past Holyrood ministers have sought conflict with Westminster, simply to further their goal of separation.

“That has sapped the energy, focus and resolve which should have been directed to improving education, tackling drug deaths, and ensuring people have the reliable transport links they need.”

He added that the new leader had a chance “to make devolution work better for the people we serve”.

Jack cited a number of areas where the two governments “must work meaningfully together” including on energy, transport and recycling.

He continued: “We can turn from confrontation to collaboration. We know we can achieve much more by working together than by pulling apart.

“These are not just warm words – we have the evidence prove it.”

Here Jack referenced the city deals programme – a project which aims to “grow local economies” and “invest in the future of our communities”.

“As I said the choice the new first minister makes will define them”, he added.

“My advice to them is this, put the people of Scotland first.”

The SNP and Scottish Government have been approached for comment.