THERE is an “emerging pattern" of the UK Government "actively undermining Scottish interests overseas”, Scotland’s Constitution Secretary has claimed.

Speaking at the Scottish Affairs Committee on Monday, Angus Robertson gave a scathing assessment of how the UK Government had “frequently diluted” Scottish identity internationally as part of a "UK offering".

He cited in particular how the Scottish Government, in November, had organised a joint St Andrew’s Day event with the Foreign Office in the residence of the British ambassador in Paris, only to discover the Scotland Office had insisted on having its “much smaller” event at the residence on the same day.

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The Scottish Government had to cancel its joint event to accommodate the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, which Robertson said risked “reputational damage”. He argued this was not only for the event but for the British embassy and the Scottish businesses it was designed to support having been due to focus on premium food and drink production.

It comes after it emerged British diplomats will be ordered to keep an eye on SNP ministers when they take trips overseas to stop them from talking about Scottish independence.

Robertson told the committee: “Despite what some might think we are well aware of what is reserved and what is devolved and perhaps have a better understanding and respect of those boundaries than others.

“On more than one occasion the Scottish identity has been frequently diluted as part of a UK offering with Scotland’s distinctive brand not always promoted strongly or systematically.

“In full awareness, the Scottish Government was organising with FCDO [Foreign Office] colleagues a joint St Andrews’ Day event [last November] to promote premium food and drink production from Scotland in the residence of the British ambassador in Paris to be hosted by a Scottish Government minister, the Scottish Office insisted on hosting their own much smaller event at the residence on the same day.

"My officials were forced to move our joint event at the embassy to accommodate the Secretary of State for Scotland.

“This risked reputational damage not only for our joint event but also collectively for the British embassy and the many Scottish businesses our event was designed to support."

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Robertson said the only body "politicising" the event was the Scotland Office.

He argued they were showing a "small-minded determination to score constitutional points rather than advocating for or supporting Scotland".

Robertson added: “This says to me there is an emerging pattern of active undermining of Scottish interests overseas in pursuit of a rather transparent and narrow-minded political agenda.”

The Culture Secretary also mentioned an incident in Iceland at the Arctic Circle Assembly in October last year. 

The National: Robertson accused Offord of being 'undiplomatic'Robertson accused Offord of being 'undiplomatic'

He claimed that Scottish Office minister Malcolm Offord, who was given a peerage after he failed to be elected as a Tory MSP in 2021, revealed "private comments" that were made by the Icelandic Prime Minister about Scotland.

"Such conduct undermines Scotland's interests and our international reputation. It is undiplomatic, and it is impolite," he added. 

Robertson said that "despite genuine efforts" of Foreign Office staff, he added that the UK Government "currently does not do enough to promote Scottish interests and our distinct strengths". 

Earlier this month it was revealed Westminster is becoming increasingly concerned about Scottish ministers meddling in reserved matters, including the constitution.

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Tory peer Offord said SNP ministers’ activities abroad would be “closely monitored” and revealed Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had held talks with Jack where they reportedly shared concerns about overseas trips by representatives of the Scottish Government.

When committee convener Pete Wishart asked about reports UK diplomats would be asked to keep an eye on the Scottish Government abroad, Robertson said he was “bemused” as he is always accompanied by someone from the British embassy when he meets foreign ministers.

Robertson said: “It bemuses me somewhat because I would have thought that anybody who knows anything about the way that Scottish Government ministers operate internationally would know that I, for example, whenever I meet ministers in other countries I am always accompanied by a representative of the local British embassy.

The National: Alister Jack is the Scottish SecretaryAlister Jack is the Scottish Secretary (Image: PA)

“That then leads to reporting to the Foreign Office which means the Foreign Office knows exactly what’s discussed.

“We’ve never put independence on any agenda, in any meeting we’ve held internationally.”

He maintained his relationship with the Foreign Office was “really good” but remain “mystified” as to why the Scotland Office was getting itself “wound up”.

Robertson added: “In trying to constrain the Scottish Government’s international activities, this UK Government is actively undermining the interests of Scotland’s people, its community and businesses. “

A UK Government Spokesperson said: "The UK Government works tirelessly to promote Scotland and Scottish interests around the world, through our extensive diplomatic network. We highlight Scotland's rich culture and heritage, as well as our reputation in business, education, security and defence. We forge business links and generate trade and investment.

"British Embassy staff in Paris were pleased to be able to accommodate the Scottish Government’s event in December, and work often with Scottish Government colleagues on events throughout the year."