Boris Johnson has said the UK has “crossed the Brexit finish line” after the UK Parliament passed legislation implemented the withdrawal deal this week. The EU Bill, which paves the way for the country to leave the bloc on 31 January, is now awaiting the formality of Royal Assent. The PM said the UK could now “move forwards as one” and put “years of rancour and division behind it”.
The EU’s top officials are expected to sign the agreement in the coming days, while MEPs will vote on it next week. The European Parliament will meet on 29 January to debate the agreement, which sets out the terms of the UK’s “divorce” settlement with the EU, the rights of EU nationals resident in the UK and British expats on the continent and arrangements for Northern Ireland. However, the Welsh Assembly this week joined the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly in rejecting the Brexit Bill. It means all of the UK’s devolved law-making bodies have voted against the withdrawal agreement legislation. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford AM said the law unilaterally rewrites the way devolution works in Wales. His counterpart in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said the three votes were “unprecedented and momentous”.
People’s quality of life should be as important as economic growth, according to Scotland’s First Minister. In a speech yesterday afternoon Nicola Sturgeon said that Scotland is “redefining” what it means to be a successful nation.She told a conference that Scotland is creating an economy where “collective wellbeing” is as fundamental as GDP.GDP, a measure of goods and services, has been criticised for undervaluing quality of life. Ms Sturgeon’s speech comes after Scotland fell five places in an index of social and economic wellbeing in developed countries.
MSPs have passed legislation to set up a Scottish National Investment Bank. The bank, which should be operational by the end of 2020, is designed to make long-term investments in Scottish firms, over a period of 10 to 15 years. The Scottish Government has committed to putting £2bn of funding into the bank over the next decade. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the bank “has the potential to transform Scotland’s society” and build a “high-tech, inclusive economy”. The legislation passed by MSPs grants the necessary powers to set up the bank as a public company. Its primary goal is to help Scotland transition to net-zero carbon emissions, while supporting small and medium-size enterprises.
The trial of Alex Salmond, who is accused of carrying out a series of sexual offences against ten women while serving as Scotland’s First Minister, will begin on 9 March. The date was confirmed when Mr Salmond appeared at a procedural hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday. Mr Salmond denies all 14 charges against him, which include one attempted rape and one intent to rape. He is also accused of ten sexual assaults and two indecent assaults.
Two delayed CalMac ferries are “significantly less than half built”, it has been revealed. The vessels being built at Ferguson shipyard are £100m over budget and likely to be three years overdue. A Holyrood inquiry into the delay was told warnings the Inverclyde yard was not set up to build two ferries side-by-side were ignored. Work got under way before designs were finalised and workforce morale was badly hit by the delay, MSPs heard.
And finally … Cruden Group welcomed Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP to their Edmonstone development in Edinburgh on Tuesday. The Minister met senior representatives from the Cruden Group and Hillcrest Housing Association and had the opportunity to speak to some of the development’s newest residents. If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or firstname.lastname@example.org