The elections nobody wanted ended up dominating this week’s news and being a complete disaster for the Tories and little better for Labour. MEPs tend not to be well known figures (unless their surname rhymes with barrage, as in balloon, as in full of hot air….) But Scotland’s six new Members of the European Parliament have changed considerably and will be as follows. Four of the six being newly elected. In alphabetical order:
· Christian ALLARD (SNP, first timer, was an MSP until 2016 and is a French national).
· Aileen MACLEOD (SNP, also a first timer, former MSP and Minister)
· Baroness Nosheena MOBARIK (Con, was previously an MEP; one of just 4 CON MEPs to survive)
· Sheila RITCHIE (Scottish Lib Dem, experienced but new to Europe, solicitor and current Scottish Party Convener; regained the seat lost to UKIP in 2014)
· Alyn SMITH (SNP, was an MEP previously)
· Louis STEDMAN-BRYCE (Brexit Party, newly elected, a home care director and Scotland’s first black MEP)
Although Nigel Farage’s six week old Brexit Party swept to victory across the UK, topping the poll in all regions except Scotland, Scottish voters delivered another poll triumph for the SNP who gained a third MEP.
Overall, the SNP won the biggest share of the vote, winning all council areas except the Lib Dem heartlands of Orkney and Shetland. Labour dipped below 10% and lost both their Scottish MEPs including respected veteran David Martin, an MEP since 1984. UKIP lost all their UK seats – including the one snatched from the Lib Dems in 2014. The former UKIP MEP David Coburn had already defected to the Brexit Party but did not stand again.
Elsewhere it wasn’t exactly another quiet week in the political world… a week ago today, Theresa May made a teary resignation speech as her tenure as Prime Minister will come to end on 7 June. So, who will be the next leader of the Tory Party and thus PM? The favourite with bookmakers is a certain Mr Boris Johnson, however he could be summoned to court ‘within days’ over claims he lied during the Brexit referendum, the Tory leadership front runner was ordered to attend a hearing to face accusations he lied with his repeated claim that the UK sends £350 million a week to the EU. Team Perceptive are putting their ha’penny on Michael Gove.
Closer to home, the Scottish government wants to put the question of independence to a new public vote in the second half of 2020. However, the Referendums (Scotland) Bill does not set a date or question, with ministers seeking agreement with the UK government. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “now more than ever it is essential that we keep Scotland’s options open”.
Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell MSP gave a statement to MSPs on Wednesday afternoon about the bill and plans for a “citizens’ assembly” to discuss Brexit and independence. The Scottish Conservatives said the “latest stunt” was “all about Nicola Sturgeon pandering to her party, not speaking for the country”.
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