As we approach the end of October, this leaves only 18 weeks until Article 50 is due to be triggered by the UK Government, with the ongoing Brexit debate continuing. Scotland’s Europe Committee grilled David Mundell on a separate Scottish deal, Nicola Sturgeon called for a single market coalition and the Minister for UK Negotiations for Scotland’s Place in Europe, Mike Russell told Parliament there was no UK exit plan. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also the small matter of a leaked Theresa May tape.
In construction news, the UK government announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow. The decision is expected to create up to 77,000 additional local jobs, but Scotland will also benefit. The Scottish Government formally backed the decision last month under the belief the move would create a Scottish hub to deal with cross-border flights and see increased spending in the country. Elsewhere, while the Heathrow decision will see more people flying high in the coming years, members of Holyrood’s finance committee were concerned about things going in a different direction when they questioned Derek Mackay who confirmed his belief that the stamp duty replacement had not caused a ‘nosedive’ in Scotland’s property sector.
Nicola Sturgeon met with 150 business and public sector leaders in Edinburgh on Wednesday to call for a Scotland wide coalition to remain in the single market. As Mike Russell updated Parliament on recent Scottish Government activity on Brexit negotiations, Ms Sturgeon used the National Economic Forum to get her message across. The rallying call will add further pressure to Theresa May and support the SNP’s increased drive for a second independence referendum as they attempt to change public, and in this case, vital business and public sector sentiment. It remains to be seen how successful they will be.
Theresa May hosted a Brexit summit with the UK’s devolved administrations on Monday, a meeting overshadowed by her warning to Nicola Sturgeon not to undermine Brexit negotiations with independence threats. However, it was a different thorn in her side that replaced the SNP later in the week in the form of a leaked tape. The Guardian published audio of a private talk where she warned Goldman Sachs about the negative impacts of a Brexit vote, one month prior to the referendum. While embarrassing for the PM, it goes much deeper, and supports concerns that she continues to drive ahead with negotiations while ignoring her own private fears and those from many within the Conservative Party.
Elsewhere, the ONS announced that the UK economy grew by 0.5% in the three months after the Brexit vote, Kezia Dugdale was voted Member of the Year, an award for elected politicians, for the LGBT news site Pink News and Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Transport Minister called for the full devolution of Network Rail. Ruth Davidson was named Politician of the Year at The Herald awards, the first Conservative to win the title after Nicola Sturgeon won the award for four consecutive years. Ruth Davidson was also recognised with the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award for her debate with Boris Johnson on the EU pre Brexit.
Finally, it wasn’t just the Brexit debate under scrutiny this week as it was announced that an independent commission is to review the workings of the Scottish Parliament. The report, which is expected to be submitted in 2017 will give the Scottish Parliament’s systems a much needed refresh, or in the words of Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh “an MOT”.
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