Nicola Sturgeon claims only she offers ‘serious leadership’ for Scotland
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that plans to hold a second Scottish independence referendum in the near future risk dividing the UK at the “worst possible time”.
With just days to go before the Holyrood elections, Mr Sunak urged voters to reject calls for independence from the UK as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
It came as the Scottish National Party (SNP) were shown be on course to seize a slim majority in this week’s crucial elections, with Nicola Sturgeon suggesting she alone could offer “serious leadership” for Scotland.
A majority victory for the SNP would present a political nightmare for Boris Johnson by putting the issue of Scottish independence firmly back at the forefront of British politics.
Ms Sturgeon said on Sunday that her opponents were “vying for second place [and] openly saying they have got no plan for government”.
Salmond’s Alba Party says Scotland should leave UK without taking share of tax debt
Scotland should be able to leave the UK and become independent without taking on a share of the UK’s debt, Alex Salmond’s Alba Party has claimed.
The party announced the new policy after figures published in October last year showed the UK government gross debt reached more than £1,876bn – in part due to massive spending during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Salmond, a former SNP leader, has urged his former party to adopt this stance on what Alba called a “clean break settlement”.
The policy stands in contrast to SNP proposals published in advance of the 2014 referendum in the white paper on independence, which said that a separate Scotland would take on a “negotiated and agreed” share of the UK debt.
However, Alba notes that “as a percentage of GDP the debt has doubled since the financial crisis of 2008 when the government and Bank of England embarked on wholesale quantitative easing”.
“That debt is largely owed by one branch of government (the Treasury) to another (the central bank) and therefore forms no legitimate liability for the Scottish or any other people,” the party claimed.
Alba has also made clear it “rejects entirely any obligation to share debt accrued through central bank money printing and sees no role for Scotland on paying interest on that debt”.
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 14:31
Tories face ‘tough fight’ to win Hartlepool by-election, PM says
Boris Johnson has said that the Conservatives face a “tough fight” to win Hartlepool in a highly-anticipated by-election this week.
During a visit to a fish and chip restaurant in the constituency, the prime minister was asked if he was concerned whether interest in his childcare arrangements or his flat refurbishment might affect the vote.
“I have always believed that it was going to be a tough fight and I still believe that is the case,” Mr Johnson said.
When asked if he was worried he might have a negative effect on the election, he added: “I think that people will focus on the issues that matter to them.
“That is the vaccine rollout, the chances of our economy bouncing back really strongly in the second half of this year, what we are doing to make sure that happens.”
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 14:15
PM insists government is doing ‘everything we can’ for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK is doing “everything we can to look after the interests” of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after Iranian state TV suggested that Britain could pay back a £400m military debt to secure her release.
“There are two entirely separate issues,” Mr Johnson told reporters during a campaign visit to Hartlepool.
“We of course make sure that we do everything we can to look after the interests of Nazanin and all the very difficult dual national cases we have in Tehran.”
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 14:00
Starmer: ‘I will take full responsibility for election results’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he will “take full responsibility whatever the outcome” ahead of the local and devolved elections this week.
“I will take full responsibility for the results in the elections this week, I will take full responsibility for everything that the Labour Party does,” Sir Keir told reporters during a visit to Lewisham.
“We have had a fantastic team of candidates and people out there, members and supporters, having conversations on the doors.
“We’ve got a number of days to go but I will take full responsibility whatever the outcome.”
The Labour leader also rejected suggestions that questions over Boris Johnson’s refurbishment of his Downing Street flat and allegations of Tory “sleaze” were “party politics”.
“It’s very good to see senior Conservatives recognising the seriousness of the situation that the prime minister could be in and the implications of breaching ministerial code,” he said.
“Over the last week or so, some people have said holding the government, holding the prime minister, to account, is somehow party politics.
“This demonstrates that it isn’t – there’s a shared, cross-party need to uphold standards in public office, and I think other senior Conservatives should follow suit now.”
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 13:48
PM braces holidaymakers for disappointment with return of foreign travel
Boris Johnson has braced holidaymakers for disappointment by warning that while “some opening up” for foreign travel is likely later this month, the government will be “cautious” about the number of countries on the quarantine-free “green list”.
The prime minister added that the UK would risk “an influx of disease” if ministers lift all restrictions too soon.
Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 13:35
ICYMI: Johnson under pressure as British voters back second independence referendum
Boris Johnson is under pressure to allow a second Scottish independence referendum if the SNP secure a majority at Holyrood this week, as a poll has found British voters believed it would be wrong to deny a fresh ballot.
Some 41 per cent of UK adults believe Mr Johnson should allow another vote within four years if there is a pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament, while just 33 per cent oppose the idea, according to a BMG poll for The Independent.
Our Whitehall editor, Kate Devlin, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 13:22
Sunak’s post-Covid budget will see ‘return of crippling Tory austerity’, SNP says
The SNP has hit back against Rishi Sunak’s warning that it would be wrong to pursue a second Scottish independence referendum, arguing that the chancellor’s post-Covid budget would lead to a return to “crippling Tory austerity”.
“The SNP is focused on steering Scotland through the pandemic and into our recovery. As we do so we will be faced with a question of who we want leading that recovery,” SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said.
“We cannot trust the Tories to do the right thing for the Scottish economy. Rishi Sunak has already set out his post-Covid Budget which will see a return to crippling Tory austerity.
“Scotland suffered 10 years of Tory cuts, which plunged thousands into poverty and forced families to use food banks just to ensure they could put food on the table. We cannot afford to return to another decade of austerity.”
Mr Brown also claimed that the chancellor took an “insulting attitude” to the needs of Scottish workers when it came to the delays in extending the furlough scheme last year.
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 12:54
It may be a bank holiday Monday but that hasn’t stopped some politicians getting out to campaign ahead of Thursday’s local and devolved elections.
For example, you can find pictures of Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie feeding penguins during a visit to Edinburgh Zoo below:
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 12:26
New independence referendum would divide UK at ‘worst possible time’, Sunak says
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that plans for a second Scottish independence referendum would “needlessly divide” the UK at the “worst possible time”, as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Sunak argued on Monday that Scotland was a “stronger nation” because it was part of the UK ahead of the Holyrood elections this week.
“The last 12 months has shown that in the darkest of moments, all four nations of the United Kingdom benefit from each other and our partnership,” he said.
“The undeniable truth is that Scotland is a stronger nation because it is part of a United Kingdom.”
The chancellor added: “In this Scottish parliament election, if you want to get your political leaders focused on the things that matter to you and your family, then you need to use your peach party list vote for the Scottish Conservatives.”
Mr Sunak urged Scottish voters to focus on “the job prospects of young people in Scotland” rather than the possibility of independence from the UK.
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 12:07
What is at stake in this week’s Scottish parliament election
Thursday’s Holyrood election could be crucial in determining the future of Scotland in the UK as the SNP pushes for an overall majority to validate calls for a second independence referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party is almost certain to emerge as the largest party once all the ballots have been counted, but winning a majority in the 129-seat Scottish parliament is difficult due to the proportional representation system used to elect MSPs.
A total of 73 constituency MSPs will be returned in the election, with the remaining 56 coming from the regional list ballot, which is used to try to bring the number of representatives each party has in line with their share of the vote.
Ms Sturgeon is urging voters to back her party with both their ballots, while Labour and the Tories are battling to secure second place and to deny the SNP an overall majority.
If the SNP fails to win a majority on its own, it is likely that the Greens will provide the MSPs needed for a majority for independence in the parliament.
There is also the possibility of more pro-independence MSPs being elected from Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party, but recent opinion polls have cast doubt over whether the party will attract enough support to win any MSPs.
Furthermore, Ms Sturgeon has made clear that she will not work with Mr Salmond if he is elected to Holyrood again following a public feud over the handling of sexual harassment allegations made against him.
Conrad Duncan3 May 2021 11:56