Scotland’s First Minister was told she “simply wasn’t bright enough to understand how good [Theresa May’s Brexit] deal was” in a meeting with the Prime Minister, MPs have heard.
Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell told Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee the incident happened the last time he and Nicola Sturgeon met Ms May.
However, a UK Government source said Theresa May always treats Ms Sturgeon with the “utmost respect” and to suggest otherwise is “categorically untrue”.
Mr Russell said: “When I met the Prime Minister with the First Minister to discuss what we thought we might be discussing, and indeed this was what was being said publicly, we would discuss compromise positions.
“What we actually heard was an explanation of why we simply weren’t bright enough to understand how good her deal was. Obviously she wasn’t either because her deal changed.”
He added: “I must be honest about this, the Prime Minister is not a person who seems willing to listen to what the devolved administrations want to say, still less to compromise as a result of that.”
He was giving evidence to the committee in its inquiry into intergovernmental relations between Westminster and Scotland.
He said relations were “poor”, having been worsened by Brexit, and added that the joint ministerial committee system had “failed”, particularly in its supposed oversight role on the Brexit process.
“Last night, there was of course a briefing for Arlene Forster – there was no briefing for Nicola Sturgeon,” he said, referencing last-minute adjustments to the Brexit deal.
Mr Russell also questioned the relevance of the position of Scottish Secretary, saying he does not “see what the purpose is”.
“I don’t think the role has any function at all,” he added.
He said the Scotland Office is “not relevant to what we’re doing and is an appendage from a past settlement that is no longer necessary”.
A UK Government spokesman said: “The Secretary of State for Scotland and his office play a vital role in ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard at the heart of Whitehall, and that the UK Government’s responsibilities and activities in Scotland are fully understood.”
A UK Government source added: “The Prime Minister has always treated the First Minister with the utmost respect and to suggest otherwise is categorically untrue.”