The Scottish Parliament has been in recess this week, although the building itself has been a hive of activity since Wednesday as the annual Festival of Politics got under way. Our own political guru Devin Scobie was there at the opening evening event and was one of three people chosen by Presiding Officer Ken Mackintosh to question Tory grandee (Lord) Michael Heseltine.
The SNP concluded their main annual conference earlier in the week and Nicola Sturgeon has called for “pragmatism and patience” from independence supporters in her SNP conference speech. In her keynote address to the faithful, the First Minister said she was “more confident than ever” that Scotland would become independent. She added that members must “wait for the fog of Brexit to clear” and work to win over people who voted No in 2014. She used her speech to hit out at “unfolding calamity” and “despair” at Westminster, contrasting this by painting an independent Scotland as “a beacon of progressive values”.
Down in Cardiff and newly elected leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price AM, announced that the former SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson has been appointed to undertake a ‘root and branch’ review of the party’s organisation and operations. Mr Robertson was formerly one of Scotland’s highest profile politicians during his time as MP for Moray. He lost his seat to the Conservatives in last June’s snap election.
Even in recess, Brexit is never far away. We learned this week that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will consider next month whether Brexit can be halted if MPs vote to do so. The case, which has been brought by a group of anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners, was referred to judges in Luxembourg by the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The ECJ confirmed that it had been granted “fast-track” status due to the “urgency of the issue”.
Still on Brexit and it seems that people in Scotland are overwhelmingly behind a proposal to extend negotiations with the EU if necessary to avoid a No Deal Brexit, a new poll has found. The Survation poll found that 60% of Scottish voters supported an extension, while only 27% opposed. The polls suggests that voters of all parties are backing the position. The poll also found that only 27% of the public believe the UK government have given “an appropriate amount of consideration” to the views of people in Scotland, with 62% believing they have not.
On economic matters, and Scotland’s private sector has reported its weakest rate of expansion for five months, according to Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest PMI. It suggested there was “solid” growth among service providers in September, but manufacturers reported a slight drop in production levels during the month. Respondents to the survey of purchasing managers attributed the easing of growth to a weaker rise in new business. The latest sector data also suggested that growth at the UK level was stronger than that in Scotland for the first time since June.
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