SCOTTISH civil servants are furious after Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay ruled they would no longer go to meetings in Brussels from next week to discuss fishing, agriculture and other devolved issues, The National has learnt.

Barclay made the decision without consulting or informing the Scottish Government, leaving its officials learning of the development through press reports, according to Edinburgh insiders.

The UK Cabinet minister announced earlier this month that from September civil servants would only be sent to EU meetings at which the UK has “a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security”.

Scottish Government civil servants travel regularly to Brussels to discuss fishing, agriculture and other devolved issues such as the environment, forestry and animal welfare.

“The UK Government didn’t consult or even inform the Scottish Government before making the decision,” one senior figure said.

“The first they heard about it was through the media. People aren’t happy – much is said about the awesome foursome Union.”

The source continued: “Scottish officials regularly attend EU meetings about devolved matters in Brussels – agriculture and fishing are the big ones – but the UK is saying as the member state they won’t send officials unless it’s about major national issues such as security.”

The incident demonstrates a breakdown in communications between the Scottish and UK Governments. Relations have been considerably strained since the EU referendum in 2016 when Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

They nosedived further when former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt refused Nicola Sturgeon diplomatic support during a visit to Brussels in June.

Announcing the decision that civil servants would be withdrawing from most EU meetings, Barclay said: “An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings, with attendance just the tip of the iceberg. Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them, whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.”

“From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours.

“This will free up time for ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The Department for Exiting the European Union claimed most discussions at the meetings that the UK would no longer attend would be irrelevant because they would be focused on the future of the EU after the UK left.

After the decision was made, Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish External Affairs Minister, wrote to Barclay to raise her concerns over the lack of consultation and urged him to change his mind.

“It is clear beyond any doubt that the UK Government should not take a decision on this possible step without proper involvement of the Scottish Government or other devolved administrations,” she said.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government must involve the devolved governments as fully as possible in discussions about the formulation of the UK’s policy position on all EU and international issues which touch on devolved matters.

Hyslop said: “I wish to make absolutely clear the Scottish Government would object in the strongest possible terms to the removal of the UK from EU working groups and meetings.

“To take such an approach would be to surrender any ability by the UK to influence EU business – despite the UK still being an EU member state.

“This would be at a time when hugely important discussions are taking place and decisions being made, for example on the EU’s long-term budget, fisheries negotiations and foreign affairs, which will have a significant impact on the UK and on Scotland even in the event that the UK leaves the EU.”

She added: “Sadly, these latest reports appear to be yet another case of Scotland’s interests being ignored during the Brexit process.”