THE war of words between the Scottish and UK Governments was ramped up yesterday when Scottish ministers vented their wrath on Brexit hardliner Andrea Leadsom.

The UK Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs cancelled a crucial meeting with Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish environment ministers despite the “EU Transition Forum” being a joint exercise by all four administrations.

This provoked a furious response from Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.

Ewing said the reason for the cancellation was “pretty thin” and added: “This is yet more evidence that the Tories think they can do anything that affects Scotland and get away with it.”

Ewing also claimed Leadsom, last summer’s failed candidate to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister, had no right to cancel the meeting.

The full test of Ewing’s letter to Leadsom was released to the press yesterday – an unusual move that Government sources say is an indication of the frustration felt by the Scottish Government at Leadsom’s actions.

The letter stated: “Roseanna Cunningham and I are disappointed to learn that our meeting next week has been postponed.

“As indicated by my officials in yesterday’s officials’ meeting, our preference would be for it to go ahead given that we have very little time to adequately consider the significant issues we have before us in the time remaining before the UK Government triggers Article 50.

“Your officials confirmed that you had concerns about the meeting taking place before JMC (Joint Ministerial Committee) Plenary on 30 January.

“I do not believe this need prevent us meeting next week.

“At this critical stage it would seem particularly important to maintain close engagement to ensure that Ministers from all parts of the UK are actively involved in shaping the transition to EU exit.

“Furthermore, our discussions may usefully inform the wider exchanges between our administrations. I think it is therefore important to confirm as soon as possible how quickly the rescheduled meeting can take place as identifying time in diaries will now undoubtedly be a challenge.

“My view is that it should take place as soon as possible after JMC Plenary and certainly before the Westminster recess.

“In the meantime, I attach the Scottish Government paper on the impact of EU exit on the rural economy, due to be taken at the meeting, for your consideration.”

Leadsom’s snub to the devolved governments comes at a particularly bad moment in the Brexit process.

She angered Scottish ministers and farmers alike with her recent speech to an English farmers’ conference where she continually referred to “British” farming and food, despite agriculture being wholly devolved to Holyrood.

The National understands there are growing fears in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that Leadsom will attempt a so-called “power grab” to take back devolved responsibilities so that she can impose a UK-wide farming policy.

Last week, Scotland’s Minister for Exiting Europe Mike Russell spoke of the “frustration” that was building up in the devolved administrations over the Westminster Government’s handling of Brexit. Ewing went further with his comments after the letter was released. He said: “This is yet more evidence that the Tories think they can do anything that affects Scotland and get away with it.

“This meeting wasn’t in Andrea Leadsom’s gift to cancel. It was a meeting of an EU Transition forum set up in agreement by all four administrations – the UK Government was simply hosting this second meeting of the forum. The case for cancelling is pretty thin. It was probably actually more important for rural and environment Ministers to get together to share information and views to feed into the vital negotiations ahead.

“Scottish Ministers are absolutely committed to working and discussing with their Ministerial counterparts across the UK on the implications of the Tories’ hard rural Brexit. It’s a shame the Tories don’t seem to share that commitment and prefer to pay lip service to the promise to treat us as equal partners.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State regularly meets with her ministerial counterparts in all the devolved administrations and looks forward to continuing to work closely with them.”