SCOTTISH Brexit Minister Michael Russell has warned that the clock is continuing to tick down after talks between UK and Scottish governments failed to break the deadlock over the Tories’s Withdrawal Bill power grab.

There was reportedly some progress at the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council of the Scottish, Welsh and UK governments in London. The National understands the UK Government has been knocked down from grabbing 111 powers to just grabbing 25.

However, speaking after the meeting, Russell warned: “The clock is ticking on Scotland’s future as we draw ever closer to the UK leaving the EU while there is continuing uncertainty on fundamental and crucial issues.”

He added: “The absolutely fundamental point is that the devolution settlement and the powers of the Scottish Parliament cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK Government.

“What happens to devolved powers must be a matter for Holyrood, and the UK Government must recognise that.

“Progress is being made and we will continue to talk. I will continue to fight for the best deal for Scotland.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he was “positive” that a deal could be reached.

But in Cardiff and Edinburgh the governments have already tabled their own versions of an EU Continuity Bill to prepare laws for after Brexit if no agreement can be reached with the UK Government.

Speaking to reporters in London, the Scottish Secretary said: “We’re making progress.

“We’re not there yet, these are complex negotiations, but I think the UK Government has demonstrated by bringing forward our draft amendment we are demonstrating flexibility, we are addressing the concerns that both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament have raised.”

While he said “inevitably there is a timescale” for agreement to be reached, Mundell added previous discussions with Holyrood ministers “went to the wire” before a deal.

He said: “What’s very clear from today’s discussions is that both parties want to reach agreement, the devolved administrations and the UK Government want to reach agreement.

“We know now what we need to do and the areas we need to discuss further to get to that agreement.

“So I remain positive we will get an outcome, that we can agree an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, and that we can agree how to take forward the important frameworks that will be needed once we leave the EU, ensuring not just that we respect the devolution settlement, which is vitally important, but also that we allow the UK to continue to be able to function as the single market it is.”

Clause 11 of the Withdrawal Bill returns powers in devolved comp-etencies to Westminster rather than to Holyrood.

UK ministers say this is necessary to create UK-wide common frameworks.

During First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said that while her ministers did not object to the frameworks, the Bill as it stands doesn’t “just give the UK Government oversight of this Parliament and Government but, in matters that are devolved to this Parliament, effectively gives it powers of imposition or veto.”

She added: “We are being asked by the UK Government to take it on trust that it will not exercise those powers in an unacceptable way.

“I am not casting aspersions on the good faith of any individual, but we should not forget that this is a UK Government that, at times, seems willing to ride roughshod over the Northern Irish Good Friday Agreement.

“I do not think that we can simply take it on trust that the same Government would always respect the devolution settlement.

“That is why we must have guarantees that this Parliament, its powers and the devolution settlement will be protected.”