MSPs returned to work this week and wasted little time getting back into familiar arguments about the impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy. The first chamber debate of the year was on Brexit and the issue looks set to dominate 2018 as much as it did 2017.
Tensions between Westminster and Edinburgh have eased little over the holidays, and the Scottish Government has said an EU Continuity Bill is likely to be introduced at Holyrood next month. It said the move was needed to prepare Scotland’s laws for EU withdrawal if it is not possible to find agreement over the UK government’s own Brexit bill. The Scottish Government’s view that the Brexit bill is incompatible with devolution was backed on Wednesday by a cross-party Holyrood committee.
At Westminster, Theresa May completed the most far-reaching reshuffle so far of her time as Prime Minister. Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP and his deputy Lord Duncan remained in post, as does Advocate General Lord Keen, but there was no promotion for any of the 12 new Scottish Tory MPs first elected last June. Rumours of a Scottish Government reshuffle grow stronger….
Business confidence in Scotland is among the lowest in the UK, according to a new survey this week. The Bank of Scotland’s Business in Britain report, which looks at expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months, found confidence in Scotland fell slightly to 17% in July. Only Yorkshire and the Humber ranked lower, at 15%. Details: BoS survey
Still on business matters, and Tracy Black has taken over from Hugh Aitken as the CBI’s director for Scotland, becoming the first female to hold the post. Ms Black has been part of the CBI Scotland team since April last year, shadowing Mr Aitken in her role as deputy regional director. Born and raised in Scotland, she has enjoyed a varied business career in the UK and overseas with global financial services institutions, as well as smaller business consultancy and entrepreneurial start-ups. Hugh Aitken will remain part of the CBI Scotland team in 2018 to lead a number of ongoing projects and to fulfil an ambassadorial role for the organisation.
Nicola Sturgeon has warned businesses to step up the pace of gender equality or the progress already made could stall, saying that companies must “inject new momentum” into improving women’s representation. She was speaking following the publication of the Hampton-Alexander Review which calls for FTSE companies to increase the number of female board members. The independent review was commissioned by the UK government to look at ways to increase the number of women in senior positions. It found the proportion of women on FTSE-100 boards had doubled, from one in eight in 2011 to more than one in four in 2017.
Finally, we were very sad to hear of the death of Midlothian Provost Adam Montgomery. We have worked with Provost Montgomery for decades as he was synonymous with Midlothian politics since the 1980s. In November Provost Montgomery attended the launch of the Millerhill Carbon Tower with Mactaggart & Mickel at Shawfair. The tower was initiated by Mactaggart & Mickel to commemorate the mining heritage of the area. Provost Montgomery spoke very fondly of his memories of growing up in the area, his life as a miner there and was very supportive of how the Millerhill Carbon Tower commemorated the mining heritage of the area.
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