ANGUS Robertson has told MSPs he was “surprised” to receive a letter from David Cameron threatening to withdraw Foreign Office support as the Tory peer had cancelled a meeting with Scottish officials just days before.

The Scottish External Affairs Secretary described Cameron’s threat as “ridiculous” and hit out at its potential impact on Scottish trade and business abroad.

Earlier this week, the Foreign Secretary wrote to Robertson threatening to withdraw overseas cooperation from Scottish ministers after Humza Yousaf met Turkey’s President at COP28.

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Cameron claimed UK officials were not given “sufficient advance notice” of Yousaf’s meeting with President Erdogan to attend to take notes, and threatened to withdraw Scottish Government staff from UK Embassies and High Commissions.

Speaking in the Holyrood Chamber on Tuesday, Robertson told MSPs that he was set to meet with Cameron to discuss the issues referenced in the letter - but the Foreign Secretary cancelled.

He also accused the former foreign secretary James Cleverly of issuing “inaccurate and misleading” advice in a previous letter from April this year.

In response to a topical question from SNP MSP Alasdair Allan (below), Robertson said: “I wrote to Mr Cleverly seeking agreement and consultation on how the guidance could be amended or withdrawn, I did not receive a reply.

The National:

“I then received another letter from Mr Cleverly in October raising the matter of the meeting between the FM and the PM of Iceland, this letter also contained inaccuracies.

“I wrote back to Mr Cleverly, but again I did not receive a reply.

“This week I received yet another letter, this time from the new Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, including the threat referenced by Dr Alasdair Allan.

“This all the more surprising as Lord Cameron had a few days earlier cancelled a meeting we were due to have this week to discuss these issues.”

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Robertson added that the Scottish Government’s only goal was to “pursue Scotland’s interests abroad”.

Allan, quoting from the explanatory notes around the Scotland Act, pointed out that while international relations were reserved, that did not preclude Scottish ministers or officials from having discussions with international representatives so long as they did not “purport to speak for the United Kingdom or to reach agreements which commit the UK”.

He asked Robertson to clarify whether or not the First Minister or any other minister had sought to do so.

“No Scottish Government minister has or would purport to speak for the United Kingdom or to reach agreements which commit the UK,” Robertson (below) replied.

The National:

“In fact, I asked James Cleverly for any examples of such a thing, he said he had none.

“We invite FCDO officials to attend our formal meetings.

“It’s impossible to predict where and when informal meetings will happen during large scale events such as COP28, and to threaten Scottish interests on the basis of these discussions arranged at pace is ridiculous.”

Robertson later pointed to a report published by the Scottish Government “showcasing” the work of its international offices and the benefits they bring, adding: “Trying to limit that work will only reduce the opportunities for Scottish businesses, cultural organisations and individuals and so impact negatively on the lives of us all.”

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Scottish Tory MSP Donald Cameron, the party’s constitution spokesperson, accused the First Minister of acting against “both the spirit and letter of an established protocol”.

He asked Robertson if he would commit to having an FCDO official present for all future meetings with international representatives.

Robertson fired back: “I have always been happy to be accompanied by representatives of the UK Embassies or High Commissions whenever I undertake international meetings, that is the position of the Scottish Government.

"It is unfortunate that FCDO officials sometimes do not make themselves available."

We told how Yousaf hit back at Cameron's intervention and described it as "petty".