Scotland Office more important than ever as union under threat – Mundell

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has rejected calls for the UK Government to consider abolishing the Scotland Office, saying it is more important than ever as the “union is under threat”.

Mr Mundell welcomed a recommendation in a Westminster committee report for a review of the post he currently holds, arguing it would lead to an enhanced role rather than it being reduced or scrapped.

Writing in the Scotsman newspaper, he also said claims about relations between the Scottish and UK Governments breaking down were myths aimed at undermining the union.

His comments follow a Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) report published last week which found differences between the ministers in Edinburgh and London over independence and Brexit had led to an “avoidable deficit of trust” between the two administrations.

The report said: “The current system of intergovernmental relations is not able to cope with the pressure being placed on it.”

It recommended the UK Government “explore options” including replacing its departments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a single department responsible for managing constitutional affairs and intergovernmental relations.

In response to the report, Mr Mundell wrote: “The union is under threat. Making the case for Scotland’s place in the UK must remain as big a priority for the UK Government under a new prime minister as it is under Theresa May’s premiership.

“So the Scotland Office must also challenge misleading claims that are designed to undermine the union.”

He said these included allegations of a power grab over devolved powers being returned to the UK following Brexit and claims of relations breaking down between the Scottish and UK Governments, between which he said there is a “remarkable degree of joint working”.

“Those old myths resurfaced in the comment and commentary surrounding the SAC report and need to be called out,” he continued.

“With a UK Government staunchly supportive of the union and a Scottish Government campaigning for independence, there will always be tensions. But there is a clear difference between political disagreement and a failure of process.

“Yes, we’ll disagree but that does not mean our system of devolution has failed, that relations between our governments have collapsed or that Scotland has somehow been ignored or disrespected.

“It just means we don’t see eye to eye with Nicola Sturgeon.”

In response to Mr Mundell’s comments, SAC chairman Pete Wishart tweeted: “The Scottish Affairs Committee is a cross party committee of Westminster MPs.

“Our report was unanimously agreed without division.”

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