Scottish Political Insider – Friday 10 August 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 10 August 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 10 August 2018

All parts of the UK government system are now in recess until next month (4 September) yet matters Brexit continue to rattle along at a snail’s pace.  Bear in mind Article 50 commits the UK to exiting the EU at the end of March 2019.

The Fraser of Allander Institute has surveyed 350 Scottish businesses about the impact Brexit is having on their businesses. Around half of the businesses said that the decision had no impact on their business activity to date, with only 6% saying it had been positive and 44% saying the impact had been negative. With regards to impact on current investment activity, 33% of firms said that it has had a negative impact (only 4% said it had been positive). A third indicated that Brexit has had a negative impact on staff recruitment (with only 3% saying it has been positive). Respondents said it was extremely difficult for businesses to plan, with only one in eight of those firms surveyed saying the information provided on Brexit had been at least adequate to help with planning. Only one in 20 said they had approached the government for information. The Institute said the uncertainty about Brexit is holding back Scotland’s economic recovery.

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson continues to gather headlines a month after leaving the UK Government. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has backed calls for Mr Johnson to apologise over his “gratuitously offensive” comments on the burka. Ms Davidson said that while she agrees with the sentiment of the newspaper article in which Mr Johnson made the comments – that face-covering veils should not be banned – his remarks were offensive. Mr Johnson has refused to apologise.

The SNP continue to be a thorn in the Scottish Tories’ side over the so called ‘Dark Money’ payments made during last year’s general election.  This has escalated further this week as the SNP called for the issue to be investigated by a Commons Committee. Brendan O’Hara MP, a member of the Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to the Committee Chair to recommend that Richard Cook, former Vice Chair of the Scottish Conservatives, provides evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News’.

BBC Spotlight Northern Ireland reported the practices of Richard Cook, who is now chair of the Constitutional Research Council which helped fund the Leave campaign. It revealed that Cook was behind the DUP’s £435,000 donation during the EU referendum. The SNP has said the revelations added further weight to the need for the Electoral Commission to fully investigate the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, and its possible ties to the Leave campaign and the Scottish Conservatives.

Audit Scotland has reported that the The Queensferry Crossing project was managed effectively and delivered value for money. The £1.34bn bridge across the Firth of Forth was opened a year ago, coming in under budget but completed eight months later than first estimated. Audit Scotland praised Transport Scotland’s budgeting, governance and tendering for the project, but it said it was too early to assess the bridge’s wider benefits.

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