SCOTTISH Secretary Alister Jack has said the UK Government will “robustly defend” its decision to stop Scotland’s gender legislation from becoming law.

Despite being passed by a majority of MSPs in December, the Section 35 order was issued to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from becoming law.

Whether or not the Scottish Government would take the UK Government to court was one of the key topics during the SNP leadership race and Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has now confirmed the block will be challenged.

Responding to the move, Jack said:"The UK Government will robustly defend the decision to prevent the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.

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"I made the order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 after thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications.

"I was very clear in the accompanying Statement of Reasons how the bill would have an adverse effect on reserved matters, including on the operation of the law as it applies to Great Britain-wide equalities protections.

“The use of the power is entirely within the devolution settlement as set out from its inception, with cross party support.” 

This comes after legal expert Alex Page told The National he thinks the likelihood of a successful legal challenge is “vanishingly small”.

He added: “If the court accepts it makes modifications of the law as it applies to reserved matters, which is the key question, I think its prospects of success are vanishingly small.”

Yousaf said on Tuesday he was considering legal advice and made clear during the course of his leadership campaign that the block was a “undemocratic veto over legislation that was passed by a majority of the Scottish Parliament”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also defended the decision to block the legislation. 

He told reporters in Belfast: “We said at the time, the Secretary of State at the time, it was a decision that we made after taking very careful and considered advice.

“We had concerns, as the UK Government – the Secretary of State sets this out at the time – concerns about how Scotland’s gender recognition act would interact with reserved powers, about the operation of the Equalities Act, the protection of women elsewhere in the UK as well. 

“That’s why we took the decision to block the GRR. Obviously there’s a court process, we will follow that through.”