This will be the last Insider before next Thursday’s Brexit deadline, although the jury remains open as to whether that cliff edge will be reached. EU leaders are set to decide today (Friday) whether to grant the UK a three-month Brexit extension. Most EU nations back it but France “is digging its heels in”, according to the BBC. This could mean an emergency summit in Brussels on Monday to allow leaders to reach agreement face-to-face.
Boris Johnson insists the UK will leave the EU next week with or without a deal and he will seek a snap election if the EU grants an extension to January. The Prime Minister was forced to send a letter to the EU (albeit, somewhat churlishly, unsigned) requesting an extension, under legislation passed by MPs last month. But he said he had told EU leaders his policy was still to leave on 31 October.
The Fraser of Allander Institute has published its latest economic commentary, which highlights the impact Brexit has already had on the economy. The report suggests Brexit uncertainty has cost the Scottish economy £3bn due to poor growth and firms delaying investment until after Brexit was concluded. The report also emphasises that the challenges facing Scottish businesses will not end if a Brexit deal or extension is agreed.
On previous growth, the report continues to caution businesses that any growth seen previously was likely as a result of stockpiling from firms in the lead up to the Brexit deadline. The report also highlighted the strong performance of Scotland’s exports, growing by 4% in 2018, despite rising unemployment and costs. The forecast predicts a challenging long-term outlook due to the new Brexit deal calling for a “harder” Brexit and cautions firms that a no-deal scenario remains a possibility.
Ruth Davidson is facing calls to resign as an MSP after taking a paid job with a lobbying firm. The former Scottish Conservatives leader has been appointed as a senior adviser to PR firm Tulchan Communications. She will be paid £50,000 for 24 days’ work a year on top of her MSP salary of £63,579 but, despite the criticism, the party said the role was “within all parliamentary and industry rules”.
Another Edinburgh politician is in trouble as the Unite union is pushing to de-select Scottish Labour’s Ian Murray as a candidate in the next general election. The MP for Edinburgh South was Labour’s only Scottish MP between 2015 and 2017 and has been a consistent critic of Jeremy Corbyn. Party rules trigger a contest to replace an MP if a third of local members or affiliated unions back it, but Mr Murray said installing a “hard left Marxist candidate” in his place would see Labour lose the seat. He said he would now have to decide whether or not to stand as an independent candidate in the constituency.
A court date has been set in the case against former First Minister Alex Salmond. A preliminary hearing will go ahead at the High Court in Edinburgh on 21 November, before a full trial, which is expected to take place early next year. Mr Salmond was charged with a total of 14 offences on 24 January this year. They include two charges of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault and two of indecent assault.
And finally … Thanks to senior SNP MSP Richard Lyle for taking the time to tour Perceptive client Construction Scotland Innovation Centre on Monday. Richard has recently joined the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee which recently completed a comprehensive review of Scotland’s construction industry.
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