The UK is likely to be offered to delay Brexit until 12 May, subject to MPs approving the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week. If not the EU will back a shorter delay until 12 April, giving the UK time to get the deal through or “indicate a way forward”.
In the meantime an online petition calling for Theresa May to revoke Article 50 has attracted over 2 million signatures. Revoke Article 50 has been trending on Twitter as people were urged to sign it. According to the Petitions Committee, the site struggled to cope with the demand, crashing at some points. Once up and running again signatures were arriving at a rate of up to 2000 per minute.
In Scottish politics, the government has pledged to roll back changes MSPs made to its reforms of the planning system. Ministers introduced legislation at Holyrood with the aim of streamlining planning and “empowering communities” but the process has not been as seamless as the Scottish Government had anticipated.
MSPs on the local government committee have made more than 230 amendments to the bill adding in extra powers and responsibilities for planning boards. The government has warned these could “create millions of pounds of new costs” and undermine the legislation.Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said he was now working on fresh changes to “rescue” the bill and “remove unnecessary burdens” before MSPs vote on it for the final time,
There was a little good news for the Scottish economy as new figures showed that it grew by 0.3% in the final three months of 2018, according to official figures. The increase in the country’s GDP compared to a figure of 0.2% for the UK. The news comes as Scotland’s unemployment rate hit a record low. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP said it was the eighth consecutive quarter of growth and that the country’s economy “continues to go from strength to strength”.
Mental health is back on the agenda with an independent review of Scotland’s mental health legislation is to be carried out, mental health care in Scotland is currently underpinned by laws which date back to 2003, and MSPs have faced calls for an update.Linked to this and as mentioned last week, a petition had been lodged at Holyrood urging ministers to “conduct a wide review” of legislation, in light of developments both in care and treatment and international human rights law. Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey MSP told MSPs that “the time is right” to review the law, to make sure that rules “fully reflect our ambitions and the needs of those our laws are intended to support”.
In a rather worrying development, a leading MSP has told how she fears for her safety after online threats and abuse. Glasgow Conservative Annie Wells said she has contacted Police Scotland over the social media posts. She told media representatives that in the three years since she was elected she had muted more than 1100 abusive Twitter accounts due to the violent and foul nature of the posts. Ms Wells said the majority ofthe abuse on Twitter was aimed at her simply for a being a woman. Sadly her experience is by no means unique.
And finally… One of Perceptive’s newest clients, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) in Glasgow, welcomes senior Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar this morning. A former dentist and MP, Mr Sarwar has considerable interest in IBioIC’s role, as a specialist in the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) sector, is to stimulate the growth of the IB sector in Scotland to £900 million by 2025. IBioIC is one of eight Innovation Centres funded by the Scottish Funding Council and supported by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
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