TORY ministers have been accused of treating Scotland with “contempt” after MSPs were “granted” access to the UK Government’s Brexit assessments – but only if they dropped everything they were doing, and rushed to the other side of town.

Even then they’d only get a brief glance at the papers, and, reportedly, only the even numbered pages.

Without warning, the UK Government initially promised MSPs just 12 hours over two days to see the “preliminary analysis” papers submitted to Commons and Lords committees on Tuesday.

But the letter telling the Scottish politicians that arrived late, effectively giving the MSPs just nine hours.

Joan McAlpine, the SNP chair of Holyrood’s Europe and External Affairs committee was gobsmacked to receive the missive from the Department for Exiting the EU at lunchtime yesterday.

The letter insisted MSPs would need to book an appointment to attend the ‘reading room’ in Melville Crescent, two miles from Parliament, between 10am and 1pm and 2pm until 5pm on Thursday and Friday.

Most MSPs had to be in Holyrood yesterday afternoon, many of them will today be back in their constituencies holding surgeries and attending other appointments that have likely been in the diary for some time.

McAlpine said: “This was a completely insulting offer that treats Holyrood and the people of Scotland with contempt.

“We know from leaks at Westminster that the UK Government is pursuing a hard Brexit policy that its own analysis shows will wipe billions of pounds from the Scottish economy.

“Now they want to restrict the ability of MSPs to view this information and have ordered them not to reveal any of the contents to the public.

“They think a last minute invite to view the analysis they denied existed – at the other side of town, while parliament is sitting – is good enough. Well it isn’t.

“The UK Government is also treating MSPs as second-class representatives compared with Westminster MPs. MPs can view this analysis whenever Parliament is sitting and during recess. Yet MSPs are being restricted”.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ member of the Europe Committee, agreed, comparing it to a joke in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “The Tories’ contempt for Scotland knows no bounds.

“They’ve chosen to make this information available to MSPs for just twelve hours over two days with no prior notice – two days in which we have committees, debates and constituency business.

“Given the massive economic damage this analysis predicts, it’s no surprise they’re making it as difficult as possible for us to know any more than what has already been leaked.

“It’s like the planning application from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – in the cellar, with no lights or stairs and at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused toilet behind a sign saying Beware of the Leopard.

“Except this isn’t fiction.”

Greer said when he’d been there he’d been restricted to getting only every other page, as the odd numbered pages hadn’t arrived until 4.30pm.

He added: “A hard Tory Brexit will cost tens of thousands of Scottish jobs, hit public services like the NHS hard and lower people’s incomes and yet Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories are going along with it while Labour just sit on their hands and watch. The Greens will keep up the fight against this looming disaster.”

Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Neil Findlay said: “This is an absolute nonsense, and takes no consideration of MSPs who have constituencies far from Edinburgh – or indeed the fact that Holyrood is sitting at those times on a Thursday. This is the shambolic Tory approach to Brexit summed up.”

Late last night the UK government climbed down, with a spokeswoman saying the reading room would remain open to MSPs over the coming weeks.

A UK government spokeswoman said the letter had really made reference to the rooms being available “from” Thursday.

She added: “If MSPs would like to return to review the document at any point, including after recess, they would be very welcome to do so”.

Leaked copies of the report suggest the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal in place would hit Scottish economic growth by nine per cent over the next 15 years.

Even if the UK government secures a free trade deal, then growth will be hit six percent.

And it will still take a pummelling of 2.5 per cent even if the UK takes the unlikely decision to stay in the single market and customs union.

Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell has previously said he wants the papers published.