HOPES of a Borders Railway extension to Carlisle have taken a hit after the Scottish transport secretary blocked a review into cross-border transport.

The Union Connectivity Review, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on October 5, will look into transport across the borders of the four UK home nations.

However, Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson, of the SNP, has blocked Scotland from engaging with the review.

Borders MP John Lamont, of the Conservatives, described Mr Matheson’s decision as “absolutely shameful”.

“I could hardly believe my ears when the Secretary of State told the House of Commons that the Scottish transport secretary has blocked Transport Scotland from engaging with this review,” said Mr Lamont.

“This is blatant nationalism risking transport projects going ahead. An unwillingness to engage with the UK Government risks Scotland missing out.

“People can hold their legitimate views on our constitution but surely even the nationalists can see the benefits of investing in cross-border transport routes.

“Michael Matheson needs to explain why he made this decision and thinks projects like extending the Borders Railway and improving the A1 should not go ahead.”

Border Telegraph:

A spokesperson for Mr Matheson said the review was blocked because it was felt to undermine the devolution settlement.

The spokesperson said: “We are still waiting for a response to the concerns set out in our joint letter with the devolved administrations sent last month.

“But this study is clearly part of the Tory government’s wider agenda to undermine the devolution settlement across a whole range of policy areas.

“The very fact that it has been organised with virtually no consultation with the devolved administrations – despite transport having been a devolved matter since 1999 – speaks for itself.

“While we will seek to engage constructively with the UK Government, we will absolutely not sign up to anything which in any way undermines the devolution settlement.

“The ball is in the UK Government’s court to prove that this is not the case – but thus far we frankly have little confidence in this process.”