U-turn from Sturgeon. Win for Theresa and Ruth…
U-turn from Sturgeon. Win for Theresa and Ruth…
Is Tory minister Guto Bebb trying to get sacked? Fresh from infuriating Downing Street by demanding they apologise for the Budget, Bebb has written a column in his local paper arguing that Scotland is “clearly another country” and that his “gut feeling” is Scottish voters no longer see themselves as British. Fair to say these comments from a serving government minister are not in line with Theresa May’s position that “at heart we are one people”. Bebb said:
“We have a huge amount in common with citizens of the Irish Republic, as we do Scotland. Similar TV programmes, popular music and in many ways a shared literature… But, and it’s a real but, read their papers, listen to talk shows and watch the news and it’s clearly another country…
“My brief visit to Edinburgh left me somewhat despondent because I felt the same way as I do when I leave Dublin. For me Dublin is somewhere which is recognisable but very different. That is fine in the context of the capital of an independent country but it should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK. The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable. For a long time it has been satisfied within the UK. Even in 2014 a majority saw themselves as British and Scottish. Is that changing though? My gut feeling is yes and that should be a cause for regret to all of us.”
Bebb, a former pro-Welsh independence Plaid Cymru activist, was due to speak at the Tory spring forum in Cardiff yesterday but didn’t show…
Scottish government ministers spent yesterday afternoon ringing around companies and trade bodies to discuss Sturgeon’s announcement on IndyRef2. One recipient of such a phone call reports that the SNP minister they spoke to was keen to allay business fears. The minister conceded that a Scottish referendum before Brexit is unlikely – despite Sturgeon’s demand for a vote by Spring 2019 – but they privately hope for one “shortly afterwards”. There are obviously significant obstacles to another Scottish referendum before Brexit is sorted, one being that Theresa May is hardly going to want one before, say, 2021. Almost as if the Nats aren’t being entirely honest with the public…
— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) March 13, 2017
Theresa May pretty clear the government opposes a second Scottish referendum:
“Only a little over two years ago people in Scotland voted decisively to remain part of our United Kingdom in a referendum which the Scottish Government defined as a ‘once in a generation’ vote. The evidence clearly shows that a majority of people in Scotland do not want a second independence referendum. Another referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time.”
One whopping problem for the Nats if they get their referendum in 2018/19 and the Scots vote for independence. The whole point is that they want to stay in the EU, but an independent Scotland would not be allowed to, it would have to reapply. Which means years outside the EU and adopting the Euro. Almost as if the Nats know the Tories won’t let them have a referendum during the Brexit negotiations and are just using this to shore up the Yes vote…
“It is clear that our voice and our interests can be ignored at any time and at any issue. This is where we stand today… I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely… I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process. A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit or to become an independent country… The Scottish government’s mandate for offering this choice is beyond doubt.”
She will next week seek a Section 30 order from the UK government to give Holyrood the power to hold a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019…
Theresa May comes out fighting ahead of the Scottish Tory conference, accusing Nicola Sturgeon of playing “games” and having “tunnel vision”. Ruth Davidson meanwhile tells the Nats the unionists would win any second indy referendum. The SNP want independence from Westminster and subjugation to Brussels, though that hypocrisy can be turned on English pro-union Brexiteers too. As Ed West notes in the Speccie, how can a Westminster government which is leaving the EU tell the Scots that quitting a larger union to pursue self-determination and self-government is a bad thing? ConHome has an interesting new survey of Tory members which finds nearly one in three seem happy for Scotland to leave the union. Number 10 sees Scotland as the largest potential Brexit pitfall, just wait until the Scottish parliament refuses to approve the Great Repeal Bill…
His allies have been talking up a “progressive alliance” but “our SNP” may be a bit much for Scottish Labour. Pressure is getting to him…
Guido can reveal that the Cambridge student who allegedly burnt a £20 note in front of a homeless man is related to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Ronald Coyne, a law student at Pembroke College who is a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, was filmed brandishing the cash and a cigarette lighter last week. Sources tell Guido that Coyne has previously repeatedly boasted about his relationship to Sturgeon. A Scottish government spokesman says they are not “directly” related. A senior Scottish government source confirms to Guido that they are “distant” relatives by marriage.
Coyne has been expelled by the Cambridge University Conservative Association following the incident. A CUCA spokesman told Guido:
“This occurred in the private capacity of the individual – he was not attending a CUCA event. Despite this, his membership was immediately revoked when we heard what had happened.“
A University spokesperson said:
“The University is committed to respecting the rights and dignity of all members of our community. We expect our students to treat others with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times, and the University takes allegations of unacceptable behaviour very seriously. We do not comment on individual cases.”
Coyne did not respond to Guido’s repeated attempts to contact him. Most embarrassing for Nicola that he’s a Tory…
Owen Smith has told the BBC he does not oppose a second Scottish independence referendum:
BBC: Is Brexit not a trigger for a second Scottish referendum?
OS: “Well it would be for the SNP to choose to put that to the Scottish people, wouldn’t it, and it’s for the Scottish people ultimately to determine that’s what they want…”
BBC: Would you oppose a second referendum?
OS: “No, of course not. If the Scottish people chose that’s what they wanted and there was agreement in the Labour Party then that would be for them to determine.”
“Of course not…”
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the Jeremy for Labour campaign slaps down Smith:
“The Scottish Labour Party manifesto was clear that Scottish Labour opposes a second referendum, but fundamentally this is an issue for the Scottish Parliament and not Owen Smith to decide.”
Nicola Sturgeon chose to jump on a Scottish government report yesterday which claimed the Scottish economy would be hit hardest by Brexit, in a bid to shift the blame for Holyrood’s nose-diving oil revenues caused by economic incompetence. Sturgeon claimed:
“The only way to protect Scotland’s economy – and the clear benefits which come from being part of the world’s biggest single market – is to work to ensure we protect our relationship with the EU.”
Sturgeon led the SNP’s moratorium on fracking just before and during the oil-price plummet, leading to the bottom falling out of the Scotland’s public finances when the more expensive North Sea oil was unable to compete. The official government revenue report today shows a drop of 97% in oil revenues, from £1.8 billion to just £60 million in a year. Nicola, calling for a second independence referendum to prevent a maximum loss of £3.7 billion a year to the public finances, already presides over a deficit of nearly £15 billion a year. What do you say, Merkel – fancy welcoming another Greece to the EU?
Legendary comical ‘Kipper David Coburn tried his hand at live broadcasting app Periscope during the Scottish leaders’ debates last night. Unfortunately Davey was sabotaged by his mischievous audience, who conspired to tell him his sound wasn’t working. Little did he know we could hear everything he was saying…
Some optimistic Tories hope Ruth Davidson might at some point make her way to down to Westminster via a by-election, leaving her open to run for the leadership. The Lobby consensus following her smashing conference speech last year was that it marked the beginning of a bid for the top job. Yet Ruth tells the Daily Politics it’s not going to happen:
“I will rule myself out, absolutely, I’ve got no interest in the job.”
Ruth doesn’t want to come down to fight an English seat, but if she could become an MP in Scotland…
Alistair Carmichael, who told voters he knew nothing of the infamous ‘Sturgeon memo’ before admitting he was actually responsible for leaking it, has been cleared by an election court. So no by-election in Orkney and Shetland despite the massive porkie. At least the Cybernats are handling it with their usual charm and good grace…
No trip to sunny Shetland for Lobby hacks next year either…
The SNP wasted no time in throwing their disgraced MP Michelle Thomson under a bus during her property scandal back in September. The allegations surfacing against Natalie McGarry yesterday have also warranted a police investigation, so Scottish Labour have demanded consistency from Nicola Sturgeon:
The allegations about missing donations to Women for Independence (WFI) are very concerning. The alleged involvement of the SNP MP Natalie McGarry only adds to the seriousness of this situation.
When details emerged about the police investigation into property deals involving the SNP MP Michelle Thomson you said: “There is now a police investigation under way into these matters… Michelle Thomson has decided to step aside from the SNP while that investigation is undertaken. I think that is the right thing for her to have opted to do.”
Given that it was right that Michelle Thomson’s membership of the SNP was suspended during a police investigation, can you confirm that it is also right that the same standard will now apply to Natalie McGarry? People in Scotland would be surprised if no precautionary action is taken against Ms McGarry, given the serious nature of the allegations and the involvement of the police.
Sturgeon said it was right for Thomson to stand down because she was being questioned as part of a police investigation. Well, now McGarry is facing a police probe as well. Will she last the day?
A new book, “Project Fear“, telling the story of the Better Together organisation’s campaign to keep Scotland in the Union is released today and it contains some corking anecdotes about the backstage chaos. One of the revelations is that they intended to launch an ad campaign themed after the hit show Breaking Bad. The series tells the story of a dying chemistry teacher’s journey from middle aged family man to crystal meth-making drug lord. The above image is a genuine advert they intended to run…
Unsurprisingly, using a TV show about drugs to convince Scots to vote no created divisions in the Better Together team. Some people, desperate to create a viral image, were enthusiastic about the idea, while others were scathing. One politician is understood to have raged upon seeing it, “This is about drugs! Don’t you understand?“.
The final nail in the Breaking Bad coffin came when the campaign bombed in focus groups; people who did understand the reference saw it as a sneering English caricature of a Trainspotting image of Scotland as a haven for drugs. Stay out of my territory…
The 20 year old Baby of the House delivers her maiden speech:
“Because I am an MP, I am the only 20 year-old in the whole of the UK who the Chancellor is prepared to help with housing.”
A star is born…
Jim Murphy is giving his valedictory speech at Policy Exchange this lunchtime.
He’s got some choice words for the Tories, and goes surprisingly easy on Miliband:
David Cameron seized the time and was out on the morning after the referendum to make an announcement about English Votes for English Laws. At 2am on referendum night I was in the BBC studio to be told by Michael Gove that the Prime Minster would unveil his plans that morning. Instead of travelling to Scotland to celebrate and thank Scotland he did the opposite.
To create a grievance to engender an English nationalism.
He failed initially.
But then he succeeded beyond his wildest ambition.
The SNP seized on Cameron’s actions as proof of the bad faith of Westminster and used it to bind the Yes vote together.
The full force of this wasn’t felt until the short campaign.
But an infernal machine had been created in which the threat of the SNP holding the balance of power at Westminster fuelled an English backlash which in turn added to some non-nationalist Scottish voters who last year voted No then voted for the SNP last month.
Of course, Labour’s wipeout was nothing to do with taking the heartland for granted for decades, completely miscalculating why people were voting SNP, poisoning the well themselves and letting Gordon Brown run the Scottish Labour Party for thirty years. Nope, still the evil Tor-ees.
Starkey is not backing down on his SNP = Nazis thesis…
JS: The SNP won 56 out of 59 seats… it was unprecedented.
NS: I’ve ordered an inquiry into how come we didn’t win those other three. It reports directly to me.
JS: Those other three? You think you’re Saddam Hussein? You want 99%. 56 out of 59 is pretty good!
NS: Well you know, I always think you should aim for more.
The former First Minister was filmed digging for victory by a fellow passenger on a flight down from Aberdeen. In all he spends over a minute picking, inspecting and picking again:
Readers can make their minds up about whether his finger then went to his mouth:
Living up to his reputation as Westminster’s bogeyman…