This will be our last Insider for 2018 and we hope you have enjoyed our weekly observations on the Scottish political scene over the last 12 months. Thank you to everyone who has given us feedback and encouragement! Our first Insider of the New Year will be sent on Friday 4 January 2019 so from all the team at Perceptive, may we wish you and yours all the very best for a peaceful Festive Season and a prosperous New Year.
The year finished with a further tussle over Brexit (just 98 days to go) and strong words from the Scottish Government. They said that they are working on plans to help Scotland cope, as much as possible, if the ‘tragedy’ of a no deal Brexit takes place. In a keynote speech to Holyrood, Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell MSP urged the UK Government to immediately rule out ‘no deal’ and made clear that, while the Scottish Government would do everything it could, there would still be severe damage to the Scottish economy and society.
He also confirmed to MSPs that the Scottish Government Resilience Committee (SGoRR) has been mobilised, convened by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, to consider the level of immediate response required. Planning is ongoing to deal with:
- Severe disruption of goods at UK borders due to new customs arrangements in a ‘no deal’ scenario
- Food security and the ability of Scottish food and drink producers to export their goods to the EU
- The supply of medicines, medical devices and workforce for health and social care
The Scottish Parliament closed its doors at lunchtime yesterday with Chamber business resuming on Tuesday 8 January. Business was quieter this last week as the various parties held their annual drinks events. The Parliament canteen has to deal with a backlog of uneaten snacks – formerly known as Gingerbread Men but in these enlightened times, now just ‘Christmas biscuits’ and as such, strangely less popular!
Still on a festive note, and a photograph by veteran photographer Harry Benson CBE has been chosen as the First Minister’s 2018 Christmas card. The image of the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow will be auctioned next year with the proceeds going to four charities – Who Cares? Scotland, Maggie’s Centres, The Salvation Army Scotland and The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice. You can see it here
Elsewhere and Alex Salmond has won a legal bid forcing the Scottish government to hand over documents related to the sexual misconduct case against him. Lawyers for the former First Minister successfully argued that redacted emails and notes connected with the case should be independently reviewed. He is pursuing a judicial review into the process used to investigate complaints against him. A QC will now consider if the full documents should be released.
The Ghost of New Years still to come? Predicting the political future is never easy and we were amused to read a line from the last Insider of 2017 which could just as easily apply to 2019: 2017 has been a terse year for Scottish politics and, as Brexit rumbles on, 2018 looks likely to hold more of the same until some sense of direction is established.
What we do know is that barring a very late change of heart, 2019 will see the UK leave the European Union on 29 March. We predict a new UK Conservative leader and quite possibly another snap General Election. And look out for a new UK Lib Dem leader (probably Jo Swinson) and a version of UKIP-lite from Nigel Farage.
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