EXTERNAL Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson has accused the UK Government of “disrespect” after it failed to respond to a letter calling for the withdrawal of new advice to diplomats on Scotland.

A row was triggered last month after it emerged Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had told senior officials abroad that meetings between SNP ministers and overseas governments must be organised through the UK Government and attended by its own officials.

The move was criticised by the SNP while Dr Kirsty Hughes, an expert on international relations, said diplomats abroad would “see the Scottish Government being treated like children”.

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Robertson also wrote to Cleverly calling on him to withdraw the guidance, raising concerns that it could damage “Scottish trade, cultural exchanges and education and Scottish interests in general”.

But responding to a question from SNP MSP Bill Kidd at Holyrood, Robertson said: “I have written to the Foreign Secretary to ask him to withdraw this guidance which will damage Scotland’s interests and undermines devolution.

“More than two weeks later I have yet to receive a reply, which says everything about the disrespect shown by the UK Government thus far.

“Despite what these documents assert there is nothing in the Scotland Act which precludes Scottish ministers from discussing any issues with other governments or indeed international organisations.”

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Kidd said “condescending Westminster attitudes” could cost jobs and investment and pointed to the recent announcement of plan for a subsea cable in the Highlands announced by Economy Secretary Neil Gray during a visit to Japan.

He said direct foreign investment had risen in Scotland by 14% compared to 1.8% across the UK.

Robertson said: “This government will continue to promote Scotland’s interests and fight attempts to undermine devolution.”

A spokesman for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said: “Any suggestion that the UK Government is supressing Scotland’s voice from being heard internationally is absurd. The 800 staff based at FCDO’s joint HQ in East Kilbride are at the very heart of shaping and delivering UK foreign policy.

“The Scottish Government’s Constitution and External Affairs Secretary, Angus Robertson, recently praised the FCDO at the Scottish Affairs Committee for its strong record of supporting the devolved governments. Promoting every area of the UK is part of our DNA.

“The Foreign Secretary’s guidance will not change the UK Government’s commitment to working collaboratively with each of the devolved governments and their Ministers in the delivery of devolved policy objectives, while ensuring reserved competences are fully respected.”