ALISTER Jack has insisted Scotland “benefits hugely” from the UK Government’s international work amid accusations Westminster is "undermining" the country.

The Scottish Secretary's comments came before an appearance at the Scottish Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into how Scottish trade and culture is promoted abroad.

A report provided to the committee noted the UK has 282 diplomatic missions covering 180 countries and territories around the world.

It comes amid a row between the Scottish and UK Governments on Holyrood ministers’ visits abroad.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverley previously told officials to chaperone Scottish ministers when meeting with foreign governments. 

This angered Scottish External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson, who accused the Foreign Secretary of making “misleading” statements as he called for the guidance to be withdrawn.

Ahead of the committee appearance, Jack said: “Our recent report shows that Scotland benefits hugely from the scale and reach of the UK Government’s international engagement and influence.

“From international security to trade and culture, the UK Government’s international departments and agencies are securing the interest of all parts of the United Kingdom.

READ MORE: Scottish Government ‘transgressions’ led to diplomat row, says Alister Jack

“The UK and Scottish governments enjoy a positive and productive working relationship promoting Scotland overseas, and contributing to growing Scotland’s economy.

“On trade and investment – including Scottish agriculture, universities, food and drink – we can and do work together well. Our recent delegations to New York’s Tartan Week are a great example of Scotland’s two governments collaborating.”

The SNP said the UK was an international "laughing stock" and claims the country was representing Scotland well did "not deserve to be taken seriously". 

Drew Hendry, the party's foreign affairs spokesperson, said: "The UK Government’s damaging Brexit, supported by Keir Starmer’s Labour party, has diminished our reputation on the world stage and has left the UK a laughing stock.

“To suggest the UK Government serves Scotland well abroad is a farcical statement that does not deserve to be taken seriously, especially when the Tories have tried so hard to prevent Scotland’s elected Government from making its own representations abroad.

“To reverse the reputational damage of Brexit, and once again be an outward-looking nation that is free to build links with our progressive neighbours and allies it’s clear we need an escape from Westminster with the full powers of independence.”

The Scottish Greens argued the UK Government was acting against Scotland's interests. 

Ross Greer, the party's constitutional spokesperson, said: "Scotland would be best served on the international stage as an independent nation in our own right, free to make our own choices and decisions without interference from the likes of Alister Jack and a UK Government which is actively undermining and working against our interests.

"Westminster has damaged the UK and Scotland’s global reputation by breaching international law and repeatedly blocking progressive, green changes both at home and abroad.” 

Alba's Westminster leader Neale Hanvey said: "Thanks to the Tories at Westminster, Alistair Jack’s perception of being served well by the UK Government internationally is Scotland having its market access to the world's biggest marketplace removed.

"If we made our own international trading relations through independence we could rejoin the European Single Marketplace. 

"However, Viceroy Jack seems to think that Scotland benefits from the UK’s international representation as a gift.

"Scotland pays for its share towards every single UK Government department but sadly it’s up to Westminster how our resources are spent.

"With independence, our place in the world would be determined for the common good by the people that live here, not by Westminster.”

Foreign Office minister David Rutley said British diplomats promoted Scotland’s “rich culture and heritage” around the world.

He said: “The UK’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council and our leading position in Nato, the G7, the G20 and other global organisations enable us to make progress on the vital issues that matter to everyone in the UK – including Ukraine, climate change and human rights.

“The FCDO’s joint HQ in East Kilbride has almost 1,000 staff who are at the heart of shaping and delivering UK foreign policy as a force for good in the world.”