EU leaders have pulled apart the UK’s Brexit proposals, accusing Boris Johnson of putting forward untested ideas to solve the Irish border crisis. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the EU needed workable solutions “today not tomorrow”. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs that while he would “not exclude” a deal in the coming days, progress had been limited.
Some light may yet be about to shine, however. With less than three weeks to go, Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar agree they can “see a pathway to a possible deal” after talks yesterday, Downing Street said. The two leaders had “constructive” talks on the UK’s Brexit proposals and believe a deal “is in everybody’s interest”, a statement said. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet the EU’s Michel Barnier later today to continue discussions.
Making a further intervention in the Brexit debate, Tony Blair has said the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is a boost for those supporting Scottish independence. The former Prime Minister said the chances of the UK leaving the EU without a deal have increased on the basis of latest briefings from No 10. But Mr Blair said a deal with the EU was still possible. In an interview with BBC Scotland, Mr Blair also acknowledged that he now finds it a “struggle” to support Labour.
As Holyrood wraps up for a two week recess, plans to give local councils the power to charge a levy on workplace parking have been passed into law. The proposal is part of a series of changes to transport in Scotland put to a final vote at Holyrood yesterday evening. An attempt by Scottish Labour to remove the parking levy aspect was defeated during a debate on Wednesday. The Scottish Government’s transport bill will also shake up bus services, introduce low emission zones in cities and ban parking on pavements.
Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has pencilled in 12 December to deliver his Scottish Budget. Mr Mackay has informed Holyrood’s Finance Committee of his preferred date for setting out the Scottish Government’s financial statement for the year ahead. However, it will depend on Westminster holding a Budget in the next two months which in turn is tied in with the Brexit negotiations and the possibility of a General Election. Mr Mackay said last month that without the tax announcements and economic forecasts of a UK Budget the Scottish Government will not have clarity on funding for 2020-21.
Scotland’s role as a global leader in ethical finance is being highlighted at a world summit in Edinburgh this week. Senior representatives from more than 200 companies and organisations are attending Ethical Finance 2019. Speakers include Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The summit aims to “help define and shape the transition to a sustainable financial system where finance delivers positive change”.
The Lord Provost of Glasgow has apologised and vowed to repay some of her expenses, after facing criticism for charging £8,000 worth of clothing to the public purse. On Tuesday it emerged Eva Bolander had claimed for items including 23 pairs of shoes. In an email to council members, she defended the claims, “made in good faith”, with each “within the rules”. However, she added that “on reflection”, she should not have chosen to reclaim some items.
And finally… Well done to Perceptive client Fionna Kell, a Director at Homes for Scotland, for a strong performance at a Scottish Parliament oral evidence session. Ms Kell was a witness in front of the Local Government and Communities committee as part of their wider investigation into local government funding.
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