DAVID Mundell says he is “very positive” that there will be “solid progress” when ministers from the UK Government meet their Scottish counterparts later today to discuss the EU Withdrawal Bill.

But that confidence was not reciprocated by MSPs who voted overwhelmingly to accept the basic principles of Scottish Government’s emergency Continuity Bill.

Despite a bad tempered debate in Holyrood, that even saw Tory constitutional affairs spokesman Adam Tomkins calling Scottish Brexit Secretary Michael Russell stupid, MSPs backed the legislation by 94 to 30.

That means Holyrood will now speed through scrutiny of the bill, which aims to provide a new legal base for the areas of Scots law affected by Brexit.

The Tories disagree that there’s a need for the complex legislation, and that treating it as an emergency makes it dangerous.

But Russell told MSPs the need for the bill was entirely because of the lack of action from the Tories.

“I remain regretful that we need to carry on with this bill,” he said. “But that regret is now mingled with some admiration for the way many members of this Parliament have reacted to what are challenging circumstances, and continue to do so.

“They are not of our making, but we do need to make the best of them. I am confident that the bill received intensive scrutiny in the time available and the Government will and should find that a challenging process and we will face up to it.”

LibDem MSP Mike Rumbles was uncomfortable about clause 13 in the bill which gives ministers powers to “fix deficiencies” in any laws affected by Brexit.

“This matter is very simple,” Rumbles said. “You are taking powers to yourself, for 15 years, out of the hand of Parliament. Parliament can only say yes or no. It can’t do its job.”

Russell replied to say, that these were exceptional circumstances and insisted that if that needed to be changed then he the LibDems should table an amendment.

In his speech, law boffin turned MSP, Tomkins, suggested the SNP’s decision to make the Continuity Bill an emergency bill would mean that Holyrood might no longer have a legal right to vote one Tory government’s Brexit repeal vote.

“This is not a bill to create continuity but to sow the seeds of confusion even chaos, its legal continuity it’s a legal confusion bill, a wrecking bill,” he said.

“It threatens to wreck the negotiations and certainly the consensus in the Parliament.”

Russell, he said, was “not quite as clever as he thinks he is and he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.”

He claimed that the Parliament’s decision to fast track the Continuity Bill meant that Sewel no longer applied, as it only applies normally, and the Scottish Government had claimed these were “exceptional circumstances.”

“The UK Parliament is now free to legislate on EU withdrawal even if we do not give our consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill,” the Tory claimed.

Russell later dismissed that: “The reality of this situation is that the Sewel convention applies”

Earlier in the day, Mundell was accused of “fronting up a government that’s trampling all over the devolution settlement.”

The Secretary of State for Scotland looked uncomfortable as Scottish Labour’s Lesley Laird accused the Tories of having no influence over the rest of government.

Laird took the minister to task at Scottish Questions over his failure to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill.

“We’re a year away from leaving the EU, yet Scotland’s invisible man in the Cabinet can’t even blag himself an invite to the away day at Chequers to discuss Brexit,” she said.

But Mundell insisted progress was being made.

“I’m confident that we will be able to bring forward such amendments,” Mundell told MPs at Scottish questions.

“We are in significant discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government.

“They both acknowledge that we have tabled to them a significant proposal for changing the bill and I hope to hear their detailed response to that tomorrow.”

He added: “I remain very positive about being able to reach agreement with both the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government.

“I believe they are sincere in their expressed view that they wish to reach such an agreement and we will take every step in ensuring that we negotiate to a position where we can reach that agreement.”