Alister Jack accuses minister of making ‘false claim every six seconds’

Angus Robertson has claimed Westminster proceeded with legislation which was refused consent by Holyrood on nine occasions.

Alister Jack accuses Scottish minister Angus Robertson of making ‘false claim every six seconds’ PA Media

Alister Jack has accused a Scottish Government minister of making a “false claim every six seconds” over suggestions the UK Government has undermined devolution post-Brexit.

The Scottish Secretary criticised Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson for releasing a video in which he said a new report shows the UK Government has increased control over Scotland’s devolved powers and imposed legislation without consent.

The 16-page document from the Scottish Government set out the main points of constitutional disagreement between Holyrood and Westminster which have emerged since the referendum to leave the EU.

It claimed there have been nine occasions where Westminster has proceeded with legislation which was refused consent by Holyrood.

Speaking at Scotland questions in the House of Commons, Conservative MP David Duguid (Banff and Buchan) said Robertson made a “range of spurious claims about devolution being under attack by the UK Government” in his video.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said the SNP is ‘desperate to invent a grievance’.PA Media

Jack replied: “I did see Angus Robertson’s video clip and I think I counted 16 false claims in the space of one minute and 40 seconds. That’s a false claim every six seconds – pretty impressive even by his standards.

“As usual it’s the nationalists who are desperate to invent a grievance.

“But the reality is it’s the UK Government that respects devolution, we support devolution, we’ve strengthened devolution, the only people who want to destroy devolution are the ones who want to rip us out of the United Kingdom.”

Robertson said in a statement: “I’m pleased to hear the Tories are taking the time to watch the video and learn about the negative impact Westminster’s undermining of Scotland’s Parliament is having.

“The Scottish Parliament was set up because people in Scotland voted for it, but the Westminster Government is rolling back that democratic process.

“Under the cover of Brexit, they are imposing direct Westminster rule by stealth and curtailing the ability of the Parliament to take decisions for the benefit of people in Scotland.

“What we have seen so far is the thin edge of the wedge.

“The evidence the Scottish Government has presented sets out the large range of underhand mechanisms Tory Government ministers, including Alister Jack himself, are using to undermine the democratically elected Scottish Parliament and exert tightening Westminster control on Scottish life.

“The Tories were implacably opposed to the creation of the Scottish Parliament – a leopard can’t change its spots.”

Jack also faced questions about why he did not support the Privileges Committee report into former prime minister Boris Johnson.

The committee found Johnson committed “repeated contempts” of Parliament.

Alister Jack, left, did not support the Privileges Committee report which found Boris Johnson deliberately misled MPs on partygate.PA Media

The former prime minister was said to have deliberately misled MPs with his partygate denials and was accused of being complicit in a campaign of abuse and intimidation, with Johnson hitting out at the “deranged conclusion”.

Jack said: “As I said to the media last week when I was interviewed and this question was raised, very simply because I felt the report was too excessive in its conclusions.”

Labour MP Christian Wakeford (Bury South) earlier asked: “Does the Secretary of State think that the former prime minister, fined by the police, subsequently found to have not only lied to both the late Queen, this House and therefore the public, to have strengthened or weakened the union?”

Jack replied: “The union has never been stronger and what we know is this Prime Minister has said those in public life should aspire to the highest standards of propriety.”

Elsewhere at Scotland questions, the UK Government accused the SNP of focusing on independence after First Minister Humza Yousaf vowed to put the issue at the top of his party’s general election manifesto.

Scotland Office minister John Lamont said: “The UK Government and the Scottish Government should be focused on delivering better public services and supporting people through the cost of living, and instead we hear the SNP cheering about another independence referendum.”

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