Political Insider – Friday 18 October 2019

Political Insider – Friday 18 October 2019

Political Insider – Friday 18 October 2019

A Brexit deal was agreed on Thursday between the UK and EU negotiating teams before a meeting of European leaders in Brussels. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control.” The two sides have been working on the legal text of a deal, but it will still need the approval of both the UK and European parliaments. The DUP has cast doubt on its success, saying they still cannot support it.   The House of Commons sits tomorrow in a rare Saturday session.  Various deals and counter deals are still being discussed but that will be the point of no return if the UK is to avoid a no deal Brexit. 

Prior to the Saturday sitting, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the deal sounded “even worse” than what was negotiated by the PM’s predecessor, Theresa May, and “should be rejected” by MPs. But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a “fair and balanced agreement”.

Elsewhere, anti-Brexit campaigners are to launch a legal bid to stop the UK government from putting its proposed withdrawal agreement before Parliament. They believe it contravenes legislation preventing Northern Ireland forming part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain. Campaigner Jo Maugham QC announced plans to petition Scotland’s highest civil court yesterday and expects the legal challenge to be heard later today.

Closer to home and Holyrood continues its two week October recess.  That hasn’t stopped Nicola Sturgeon returning to the theme of a second referendum on Scottish independence, saying it “must happen next year”, as she wrapped up the SNP conference. Ms Sturgeon confirmed that she will ask the UK government for formal consent by the end of this year. She said Westminster had “no right” to block the request, and its opposition to indyref2 is “not sustainable”. But she stressed any referendum had to be legal if the result was to be recognised internationally. She said this was because her aim was not merely to deliver a referendum – but to deliver independence.

Scots have pulled back on buying non-essential items, according to the latest survey of retailers. The Scottish Retail Consortium said food sales continue to rise, and at a faster rate than the UK as a whole. But non-food purchases saw a steep drop last month, down by more than 5% when compared with September 2018. Political and economic uncertainty ahead of the planned Brexit date of 31 October is being blamed for caution among shoppers.

The Scottish Greens have become the first of the five main parties to announce the candidates that will contest the regional lists at the 2021 Holyrood election. Every Green MSP elected since 1999 has been elected as a regional Member and the party believes it can win more list seats at the election, growing from the existing six MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. 

All the party’s MSPs have been reselected as number 1 (2 for Andy Wightman in Lothian, behind MSP colleague Alison Johnstone) apart from John Finnie, who has announced his retirement. Hoping to replace him will be regenerative designer Ariane Burgess, who tops the regional list for the Highlands and Islands.

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