LARGS MSP Jamie Greene has warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the UK Government's decision to block the controversial gender reform bill is a 'gift' to the Scottish independence movement.

For the first time since the Scottish Parliament was formed in 1999, Westminster has moved to block the bill designed to make it easier for people to change their legal sex.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the Westminster move 'an outrage' and has vowed to take the matter to court.

Mr Greene told the News that he can't support his own party's decision.

The openly-gay Conservative politician said: "Since the commencement of devolution there has been a long established and universally agreed process in place for dealing with disputes between the UK and Scottish Governments.

"To date it has not been necessary for either party to use that protocol, and regretfully it has now occurred on a sensitive issue which has been subject to fiery and often toxic public debate. The UK Government has every prerogative to exercise this power hat I am disappointed in that decision and it is not one I can support. I wrote to the Prime Minister expressing these concerns.

“It is my view that historic pledges made by Conservative UK governments to make reforms of this nature were sensible and proportionate. I hope that at some point soon we can offer the trans community some reassurance that much needed and long overdue changes to gender recognition will come to pass, not just in Scotland, but right across the UK.”

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Greene said: “I fear the UK Government’s move to block the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill will set us back years.

"This move could be a gift to proponents of independence who may accuse us of tearing up the devolution settlement. We are failing to live up to our promise to govern with compassion.”

Greene said it was important trans people were not treated as 'political footballs'.

He added: “Make no mistake, this could also fuel accusations of riding roughshod over devolution. It may also give the SNP-led Scottish Government the welcome gift of a fight.”

SNP Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson broke ranks from his own party to opposing the bill and was joined by Mr Greene's Conservative college, Councillor Tom Marshall.

He said: "The UK Government has been forced to tell the SNP Government to rethink its gender reform bill due to the impact it will have on equalities legislation.

"During the debate it was clear that the proposals stood at odds not only with women’s rights and protections, but also with UK equalities legislation.

"Despite this, the SNP were desperate to rush the legislation through parliament, aided by Labour and the Scottish Greens, insisting that no conflict existed. The UK Government have now paused the process which will allow both governments to discuss how the Bill can be changed.

"The SNP’s failure to allow proper scrutiny and their dismissal of concerns raised at the time, have compelled the UK Government to step in to defend equalities legislation across the UK.

"As a former schoolteacher, I am concerned also at the impact on young people aged 15,16 and 17 who are not really mature enough to make such a life changing decision.

"The whole process should be paused."