The Scottish Government has raised the bar somewhat on one it its more contentious proposals for the coming year: a Deposit Return Scheme for recyclable packaging. Scotland looks set to push ahead with a DRS for drinks containers and is calling on the UK Government to match its ambition, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP has said. Ms Cunningham has already pledged that Scotland will back the EU’s vision to phase out single use plastics by 2030 and urged the UK Government to do the same – “Brexit or no Brexit.”
Still on Brexit, and St Andrews University published a study this week which suggests that small and medium-sized businesses may be worst affected when the UK leaves the EU. The study looked at the potential impact of Brexit on SMEs. Said to be the first study of its kind, it draws on information gleaned from a UK government attitude survey of about 10,000 firms.
And in a rare intervention on day to day politics, former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell has said “ego and ideology” are getting in the way of a Brexit deal between the Scottish and UK governments. The two governments are at loggerheads over what happens to powers which are returning from Brussels post-Brexit. Consideration of the EU Withdrawal Bill is to begin in the House of Lords, with UK ministers promising amendments. Lord McConnell wants the majority of EU powers in devolved areas transferred to the Scottish Parliament.
Looking much further ahead, it has been claimed a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland could create a “Celtic powerhouse”. A week after Boris Johnson proposed a bridge across the English Channel, a leading Scottish architect says the potential link would be a better prospect. Prof Alan Dunlop thinks the “Celtic bridge” would cost about £15bn, a fraction of the estimate of £120bn for the English Channel bridge.
Baroness Tessa Jowell made a moving speech in the House of Lords this week which attracted a very rare standing ovation. The former culture secretary spke about her experience of fighting brain cancer and what needs to be done to improve patient care.
And finally … Conservative MPs – including former UK leader Iain Duncan Smith – have lashed out at Nicola Sturgeon after the SNP administration said the Union Flag will no longer be flown over dozens of buildings in Scotland on the Queen’s birthday. The new rules, issued by civil servants working for the Scottish first minister, will apply to dozens of landmark buildings including the Edinburgh and Glasgow high courts and Linlithgow Palace.
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