NICOLA Sturgeon has accused Ruth Davidson of “double standards on stilts” after Davidson challenged her on the collapse of a potential £10 billion Chinese trade deal strongly resisted by opposition figures.

The First Minister spoke out as the Scottish Conservative leader suggested she had been evading blame for the agreement falling apart following her government’s blaming of a “climate of hostility” for it not proceeding.

Speaking in Holyrood as Chancellor Philip Hammond in London announced several trade deals with China, Sturgeon hit out, saying it was hypocritical for Davidson to raise the Chinese memorandum of understanding (MoU) with her when the Tories at Westminster failed to answer questions on a deal with car firm Nissan over Brexit.

“We have an opposition that demanded the cancellation of this memorandum of understanding, we have an opposition that had a hysterical, over-the-top reaction to this memorandum of understanding,” she said.

“So, while I take responsibility for learning lessons, I really do think the opposition also have to reflect on their behaviour, which led to a political climate in which these partners felt they couldn’t proceed.”

She continued: “Ruth Davidson is the representative of a party that has apparently made commitments to Nissan and yet refuses to publish the letter telling us what those commitments are, commitments that might actually carry a price tag for the taxpayer.

“I don’t think the Conservatives have got any excuse to lecture anybody when it comes to trade and investment because let’s not forget the Conservative Party is the one that wants to rip Scotland out of the EU, out of the single market against our will and that is what is going to have such a damaging impact on jobs and investment in this country.”

Davidson responded: “Rather than blaming us, or blaming Brexit, or blaming the weather, will the First Minister remove the shroud of secrecy from deals like these and be straight with the Scottish people?”

The First Minister told her: “To talk about a shroud of secrecy when her party is refusing to publish details of the commitments that have been given to Nissan, frankly, is double standards on stilts.”

Sturgeon said she was still keen for the Scottish Government to negotiate deals with China, saying ministers had not initially taken the email from the Chinese firms as a cancellation of the MoU, saying it had not committed ministers to any particular investment but “to exploring opportunities”.

The heated exchanges took place after it emerged last weekend that SinoFortone and China Railway No 3 Engineering Group (CR3) backed out of a possible deal that could have led to £10bn of investment in housing, energy and transport in Scotland. The decision was sent to the Scottish Government by email in August, less than five months after the MoU was signed.

When news of the deal surfaced after the May election it led to a flurry of negative headlines when it was reported that CR3’s parent company, CRG, had been blacklisted by Norway’s state oil fund after its ethics council alleged the firm was “involved in gross corruption”.

A political outcry followed, including questions at Holyrood raised by the Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie and Labour’s Neil Findlay.

The Chinese partners pulled out by email on Monday, August 15.

At the time Keith Brown, the economy secretary, warned Labour and the Liberal Democrats to be wary of “deterring potential investment”.

The Scottish Government kept quiet about the collapse of the deal until a newspaper revealed it on Sunday.

Yesterday in Holyrood, Rennie raised the episode and again highlighted concerns campaigners at Amnesty International raised about the human rights record of CR3.

But Sturgeon told the Lib Dem leader: “Willie Rennie has to make up his mind – either he wanted the deal cancelled or he wanted me to pick up the phone to try to retrieve and rescue it, he can’t have it both ways.

“When we have partners saying the reason they feel they cannot proceed with investment is because of the political climate created, we have the right to question who contributed to creating that political climate.”

Landscaping at Scottish Parliament being consider to stop future "protest camps"