SCOTTISH Government ministers say they only learned of new Brexit papers on trade and customs at the last possible minute, after staff at the Scotland Office forgot to tell them.

According to Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell, the UK Government said it had “slipped their mind” to tell the devolved administration what was happening.

The Scotland Office, however, say this is simply untrue.

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Speaking at a Fringe event organised by Holyrood magazine, and the Investment Association, Russell said: “This afternoon, at some unspecified time, [the UK Government are] going to publish a major paper on customs and trade. We didn’t know that this morning. We haven’t seen that paper. We haven’t influenced that paper in any way.”

He added: “Moreover, the customs Bill, which we have not seen, which will require legislative consent, is going to be published at some stage in October. We keep getting told there aren’t Bills, and then Bills miraculously appear from somewhere.

“And to add insult to injury, in that email that Keith [Brown] and I have had, there’s an apology from the Scotland Office – which apparently still exists, and has some relevance – for not having let us know earlier; it slipped their mind.”

Russell said it was symptomatic of a real communication problem from the Brexit-obsessed Tories. He suggested no-one, not even the financial sector with their considerable clout, was being listened to by the Cabinet.

“Even the Chancellor doesn’t appear to have been able to influence the Brexiteers,” Russell said. “I don’t think they’re an organised group, they’re fanatic about leaving the EU.”

In a bleak fringe meeting looking at the impact of Brexit on the country’s financial sector, Russell said its firms were already seeing staff moving away. “There’s no possibility of a ‘good Brexit’,” he said. “You can’t have a ‘successful Brexit’. That’s not going to happen. What we could and will try to do is to mitigate the damage in so far as we can.”

Russell’s colleague Keith Brown, the Scottish Government’s finance secretary, said the sector should be more vocal, in the way he says it had been in 2014.

Brown asked: “The financial sector are not threatening to leave, and my issue is, why is that the case?

“We’re used to having people threaten to leave Scotland on the basis of constitutional change. Why is the sector so quiet?”

He added: “Perhaps more robust interventions from the sector might have meant that the UK Government started listening at an earlier stage.

After the EU referendum, Brown, at the First Minister’s behest, phoned Scotland’s financial sector.

He said then that they weren’t worried, that they had an ‘in’ to the UK Government and they were being listened to. “I think now they’ll tell you they don’t have that, and they have grown increasingly frustrated,” he said. “You have to start speaking up a bit more vociferously.”

Responding to Russell’s claims, a Scotland Office spokesperson said:  "The claim that the Scottish Government was not notified of the trade white paper because of an oversight by the Scotland Office is categorically untrue.

"The UK Government’s Department for International Trade shared the white paper with Scottish Government ahead of publication. We are committed to working with each of the devolved administrations on the UK’s future trade policy.”