ATTEMPTS to thwart Scotland’s international engagement have been condemned by young European democrats.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said all meetings between SNP ministers and overseas governments must be organised through the UK Government and attended by its own officials.

Delegates visiting Edinburgh for the Young Scots for Independence international conference told The National they believe Cleverly’s move is “undemocratic” and “restrictive”.

Anne Wentink, from the youth wing of Dutch party GroenLinks, told The National: “It seems like they [the UK Government] don’t trust them [SNP ministers] and they are scared that Scotland is indeed willing to fight for independence and they want to restrict that from happening.

“Scottish Government ministers are not small children that need to be accompanied by their parents. It’s an independent land.”

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In a letter to the UK’s heads of missions - senior diplomats to nations or organisations generally called ambassadors or high commissioners – Cleverly urged them to “gather information” about any potential foreign trips planned by the Scottish Government and report back to the Tory government in London.

He also instructed them to make sure any planned contact with SNP ministers and their counterparts abroad goes through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and ensure foreign governments know to involve the FCDO in any planned contact with the Scottish Government.

Cleverly said a UK Government official must sit in on any meetings between SNP ministers and their foreign counterparts.

Valery Keuter, a member of the German SPD youth wing Jusos, said: “In my personal opinion, in a democratic country or state you can’t just say SNP ministers have to be accompanied because they are for independence.

“In a democratic country, it’s kind of restrictive. It sounds very undemocratic to me to say you can’t go unless you are accompanied.”

Jakob Hass, also from Jusos, added: “Whether you’re an independence supporter or not, you should agree Scotland has a mandate for it. To deny that is a denial of democracy.”

Asked if Scottish Government ministers should be able to carry out trips abroad without notifying the UK Government, Hass said: “Absolutely. I was really happy COP26 was in Glasgow and Nicola Sturgeon was speaking to so many people.

“I think there was even a motion in Germany in the past to say they [Germany] wanted to increase contact with the Scottish Government. It’s so rich in renewable energy and I think that could be important not just for Scotland but to export to other countries.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said the UK Government’s attempts to limit Scottish diplomacy overseas “undermine devolution”.

Former chief Brexit negotiator and Tory peer Lord Frost has also called on the Cleverly to go further by not permitting the Scottish Government to use British Embassies abroad or receive diplomatic status.