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MSPs shouldn’t bother inviting UK ministers to Holyrood, says academic

Prof Paul Cairney told the Europe Committee that members of Theresa May’s Government would not want to address the Scottish Parliament.

Professor Michael Keating, centre, said MSPs could probably get as much information online as by questioning a UK Government minister (Scottish Parliament/PA)
Professor Michael Keating, centre, said MSPs could probably get as much information online as by questioning a UK Government minister (Scottish Parliament/PA)

MSPs have been told they should “not bother” trying to get UK ministers to come to Holyrood – with one academic claiming they could probably get as much information from the internet as they would from a member of Theresa May’s Government.

Paul Cairney, professor of politics and public policy at Stirling University, said: “I wouldn’t even bother trying to get UK ministers here because I know they wouldn’t want to come.”

He was speaking after SNP backbencher Stuart McMillan complained of a “lack of respect” from UK Government ministers towards MSPs.

Mr McMillan, who is on the Scottish Parliament’s Europe Committee, told how members of the committee managed to meet European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier before they met someone from Mrs May’s Government.

It wouldn’t be an information sharing exercise, it would be a 'who can look the most powerful' exercise. Prof Paul Cairney

He said: “We put requests repeatedly to the UK Government to have UK Government ministers come to speak to the committee regarding the whole Brexit process.

“The fact that this committee met with Michel Barnier before a UK minister, it says a lot in terms of the lack of the respect the UK Government affords this Parliament.”

Prof Cairney told him: “If it was me I wouldn’t even bother trying to get UK ministers here because I know they wouldn’t want to come.

“It wouldn’t be an information sharing exercise, it would be a ‘who can look the most powerful’ exercise.”

Politics professor Michael Keating, director of the Centre on Constitution Change, said it is “important” UK ministers appear before MSPs – but he added they would be able to find as much information by going online.

He told the committee: “I think it is important that UK ministers should come here. Not to give information, because as Paul said you probably get as much information on the web as you would from the minister, but to show that they feel a sense of obligation to the whole of the United Kingdom.”

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