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  • Statement on EU and UK Government talks by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Commenting on the EU and UK Government talks, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: It is beyond belief that in the midst of a global pandemic and deep recession the Prime Minister is telling Scotland to get ready for a disastrous No Deal Brexit. “With less than three months until the end of the transition period, businesses and people across Scotland will be in despair at this extraordinary statement. “At best this is reckless brinkmanship. At worst it means the UK Government is now actively pursuing a No Deal outcome. “The reality is Scotland’s economy is going to be damaged by a further needless hit to jobs at the worst possible time, with either a thin trade deal or no deal now the only possible outcomes. “A completely unnecessary Brexit shock will hit many businesses already struggling with the Covid-19 crisis. “A No Deal outcome would be particularly disastrous. Scotland could see heavy tariffs on goods, which for some sectors would be crippling. “Because of the hard-line Brexit position adopted by the UK Government any outcome is going to be damaging, but a No Deal will mean the biggest hit to jobs. The Prime Minister must withdraw his threat to force the hardest possible Brexit on Scotland. “The Scottish Government view is clear – the best future for Scotland is to become an independent country.” Article Source: https://firstminister.gov.scot/statement-on-eu-and-uk-government-talks-by-first-minister-nicola-sturgeon/ The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has commented on the talks between the EU and the UK Government.The full statement can be read here: https://t.co/h4y2tLlOVw pic.twitter.com/nlMlWusqXw— First Minister (@ScotGovFM) October 16, 2020 LINKS: First Minister Website: https://firstminister.gov.scot/ First Minister Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScotGovFM Scot Gov Website: https://www.gov.scot/ Scot Gov Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheScottishGovernment Scot Gov Twitter: https://twitter.com/scotgov

  • In the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “This pandemic is not a war. Nations are not against other nations, soldiers against other soldiers. It is a test of our humanity.” These have been indeed the most testing of times for people in Europe and across the world. We are facing a global public health and economic crisis the like of which we have not seen in our lifetimes. No country, certainly in Europe, can tackle the pandemic alone. Given the speed and extent of transmission it is true to say that none of us will be safe until all of us are safe. In the midst of this emergency, which more than ever demands international co-operation, Scotland is having to cope with the prospect of another crisis — leaving the Brexit transition period at the end of the year with either a thin agreement on a future relationship or no deal at all. The Scottish government repeatedly pressed the U.K. prime minister to extend the transition period because of the pandemic but he refused to do so. That means we now have less than three months to adjust to an entirely new relationship with the EU. In that time, the U.K. government intends to pass its Internal Market bill which will breach international law and which is also fundamentally incompatible with the principles and practice of devolution, key parts of the U.K.’s constitutional arrangements. There’s a marked difference between that bill and the development of the European single market which has been based on cooperation, co-decision, subsidiarity and consent, and setting a baseline of minimum agreed standards. By contrast, the terms of the U.K. Internal Market bill will oblige Scotland to accept standards of regulation unilaterally set by Westminster, whatever they might be. It therefore effectively allows U.K. ministers to legislate for Scotland in devolved policy areas, such as environmental standards, and could hinder our commitment to remain as closely aligned as possible with the EU. The Scottish parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to withhold consent for the bill. Under established constitutional rules the U.K. government should now drop the proposals but there is no indication that is going to happen. Throughout these last challenging months my personal focus has been, and continues to be, tackling coronavirus, particularly with cases again on the rise. But the end of the transition period cannot be ignored and the impact on the economy will be particularly severe both in the short and long-term. Current talks between the U.K. government and the EU on the future relationship are at a critical stage and we in the Scottish government still hope for a deal to be reached. That is in all our interests. Until the beginning of this year of course, Scotland — as an ancient nation with its own legal system, education system and devolved government — was in a union with the rest of the U.K. while at the same time being inside the European Union. In relation to the U.K., it is important to emphasise that Scotland is not, and has never been, considered a region of a larger unitary state but a country in a voluntary union of nations. In the Brexit referendum of 2016, although the U.K. as a whole voted to Leave, people in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain. Despite this we have been removed from the EU against our will and our pleas for the U.K. to say in the single market have been ignored. The founding values of the European Union — respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law — chime with people in Scotland. As a country we have benefitted enormously from the single market’s “four freedoms,” including freedom of movement as people from across Europe have made Scotland their home. We have also contributed much to Europe through our people, our world-class universities, innovators and now in particular the fight against climate change. That’s clearly part of the reason why in recent election contests in Scotland support for political parties that wished to remain in the EU has been so strong. In our interconnected world today it has never been more important to uphold both our internationalist values and the principles and operation of international law. Scotland will always champion those values and those principles. The Scottish government, therefore, found it particularly shocking when we discovered that the U.K. government was planning legislation that would breach international law. Indeed, at the same time as the U.K. government was introducing that legislation, the Scottish government brought forward the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, to entrench our international human rights obligations in Scots law. At its heart, the European Union is a peace project and we will always offer our unconditional support for the Good Friday Agreement, as we have done throughout this Brexit process. We understand the vital importance of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland. In her State of the Union address, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in these last few months we have rediscovered the value of what we hold in common. The Scottish government will, of course, always promote and protect Scotland’s interests but we will never lose sight of our common humanity. For Scotland our closest friends, in any constitutional future, will always be our neighbours in the rest of the United Kingdom. But more than anything, as we in Scotland decide on our future, and I hope and expect that this will be a future as an independent nation, we will always be a voice for peace, for European and international solidarity, for co-operation and for the upholding of international law. This article originally appeared on politico.eu and Snp.org Source: https://www.snp.org/scotland-will-always-uphold-international-law/

  • ‘Internal Market Bill should be abandoned’ Parliament rejects consent for “deeply damaging” Bill. The Internal Market Bill should be withdrawn by the UK Government after consent for it was denied by a majority of the Scottish Parliament, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell has said. MSPs backed the Scottish Government’s Legislative Consent Memorandum, which states the Bill threatens devolution and breaches international law. The constitutional convention is that the Westminster Parliament should not legislate in devolved areas without the Scottish Parliament’s consent. The Internal Market Bill should now be withdrawn by the UK Government after consent for it was denied by an overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell @Feorlean has said. ➡️https://t.co/zTR9js1MSL pic.twitter.com/Yqx2qUvTqq— ScotGovEurope (@ScotGovEurope) October 7, 2020 (This article is replicated from the gov.scot website on 7 Oct 2020) Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “The Scottish Parliament has explicitly – and comprehensively – rejected consent to the Internal Market Bill. “As far as Scotland is concerned, today’s strong endorsement of the Scottish Government’s stance means this unnecessary Bill should now be withdrawn. “Indeed no member of the Scottish Parliament who cared about its powers and the wishes of the people of Scotland could have possibly consented to this Bill. “The Internal Market Bill is an unprecedented threat to the Scottish Parliament’s powers. “It also means that if lower food and environmental standards are allowed elsewhere in the UK it will force Scotland to accept these standards regardless of any laws passed at Holyrood. The Bill will also mean the UK Government taking control of key devolved spending powers, and the devolved policy area of state aid. “UK Government ministers have already accepted the Bill will break international law – it would now be outrageous if they decided also to shatter the constitutional convention that the Westminster Parliament does not legislate in devolved areas without consent. “The Scottish Parliament has overwhelmingly backed this Government’s rejection of the Bill. Now we urge the UK Government, once again, to abandon this deeply damaging Bill.” Source: https://www.gov.scot/news/internal-market-bill-should-be-abandoned/

  • Below is Nicola Sturgeon’s full statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, October 7th, regarding the implementation of additional COVID restrictions in Scotland. "I want to be clear, we are not going back into lockdown today" First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon stresses additional measures are needed to avoid "tougher action in future" https://t.co/oudOWwhk1A pic.twitter.com/cfNULzDrwb— ITV News (@itvnews) October 7, 2020 Presiding Officer I want to update the chamber today on the current position in relation to Covid. In doing so, I will give an assessment of the current course of the pandemic; propose important temporary measures to stem the increase in cases; set out how we will support businesses affected by them; and update the chamber on the longer term work we are doing to further improve our ability to live with Covid. And in all of this, I will be very frank about the challenges we face and the difficult balances we must try to strike. First, though, I will provide a summary of the daily statistics that were published a short time ago. Since yesterday, an additional 1054 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed. That represents 13% of the people newly tested, and takes the total number of cases to 34,760. A total of 319 patients are currently in hospital with confirmed Covid-19, which is an increase of 57 since yesterday. And 28 people are in intensive care with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, which is an increase of 3 since yesterday. And in the past 24 hours, I regret to report that 1 further death has been registered of a patient who had been confirmed as having the virus. The total number of deaths in Scotland under that measurement is therefore now 2,533. National Records of Scotland has also just published its weekly update, which includes cases where COVID is a suspected or contributory cause of death. Today’s update shows that by last Sunday, the total number of registered deaths linked to Covid, under that wider definition, was 4,276. 20 of those deaths were registered last week. That is the highest weekly number of deaths since late June. Every single one of these deaths represents the loss of a unique and irreplaceable individual. So once again, I want to send my deepest condolences to all those who are currently grieving. These figures illustrate the rising challenge we again face from Covid. That challenge is also set out – starkly – in an evidence paper published today by the Scottish Government’s senior clinical advisors – the Chief Medical Officer, the Chief Nursing Officer and the National Clinical Director. It assesses our current situation in relation to the virus. And it explains – as I will try to do in this statement – why we need to introduce additional measures to control the virus; why it is urgent that we act now; and why we have decided upon the specific actions that I am setting out today. Before I come onto that explanation, however, I want to emphasise some of the more positive elements of our current position. It is important – for the morale of all of us – that we don’t forget that progress has been made. It might not feel this way, but the situation now is better than it was in March. We are benefiting from the sacrifices we made over the summer. By driving the virus to very low levels then, we have helped to ensure that – even after several weeks of increases – the estimated total number of cases in Scotland is currently just 13% of the peak level back in March. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says evidence shows that 'without action we are likely to return to the peak levels of infection we had in the spring, by the end of this month.' Follow live analysis: https://t.co/w0Ge8Q1xNX pic.twitter.com/QIH0PkuYPk— SkyNews (@SkyNews) October 7, 2020 Cases are rising, but they are not rising as quickly as they were then. In addition, we now have Test & Protect teams across the country, who are doing exceptional work. Test & Protect is now bearing a lot of the strain of controlling the virus. And we understand more now about how to reduce the risk of transmission – for example, by meeting outdoors rather than indoors if possible, wearing face coverings, cleaning hands thoroughly, and keeping our distance from people in other households. So while there are significant restrictions still in place – and they are hard and painful – we are living much more freely now than in the spring and early summer. We are determined – if at all possible – that this will continue to be the case. So let me be clear. We are not going back into lockdown today. We are not closing schools, colleges or universities. We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-Covid care. And we are not asking people to stay at home. So while the measures I announce today will feel like a backward step, they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall. It is by taking the tough but necessary action now, that we hope to avoid even tougher action in future. Let me turn now to specifics. The need for action is highlighted by the daily figures I reported earlier and, more fundamentally, in the evidence paper published today. It’s worth remembering that when I updated Parliament just over two weeks ago, the average number of new cases being reported each day was 285. That was up from 102 three weeks previously. Now, we are reporting an average of 788 new cases each day. In addition, I can report that in the 7 days up to Monday, the number of people in hospital with Covid increased by almost 80%. And the number of people who died with Covid last week was the highest for 14 weeks. In fact, there was the same number of deaths in the last week alone as in the whole of the previous month. The

  • First Minister media address to Scotland on 22 September 2020 on new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland. This speech is from the Gov.scot website and was broadcast live on tv and online in Scotland. "If we stick with it – and, above all, if we stick together – we will get through it." Today FM @NicolaSturgeon announced new restrictions to help stop the spread of #coronavirus.#WeAreScotland pic.twitter.com/LfMU0TieIu— ScottishPoliticsNews 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@ScoPoliticsNews) September 22, 2020 “The last six months have been unprecedented. They’ve been the hardest many of us have ever lived through But through our collective efforts across Scotland, we did beat Covid back. As a result – although too much heartbreak has been endured and too many families are grieving – many lives were also saved. But as we enter winter, and with many lockdown restrictions now thankfully lifted, the challenge is once again getting harder. Albeit from the very low level we achieved in the summer, cases are rising again. In the last three weeks, they have almost trebled. And as the virus spreads, we see more people being admitted to hospital again and sadly dying. So we are once again at a tipping point We must act to get Covid back under control. And protect the things that matter most to us. In a global pandemic of a virus with as yet no vaccine, we simply can’t have 100% normality. No country can. So we must choose our priorities. Our priorities are saving lives and protecting health. Keeping schools open. Restarting NHS services. Ensuring care homes are safe. And protecting jobs and livelihoods. It is to safeguard these priorities that I must ask all of you again to make sacrifices. Sacrifices for our national well-being. They are not easy but please believe me when I say they are essential. We have decided that from Friday there will be a national curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants. They will have to close by 10pm – to reduce the time people spend there. And from tomorrow, we are all being asked not to visit each other’s homes – because we know that is often how the virus spreads most easily from one household to another. There are exceptions – for care of the vulnerable, extended households, childcare and tradespeople. But generally, by staying out of other people’s houses for now, we give ourselves the best chance of bringing Covid back under control. We can still meet outdoors with one other household in groups of up to 6 people And because we know this is especially difficult for children and young people we’ve tried to build in more flexibility for you. If you are younger than 12, there are no limits on playing with your friends outdoors. And if you are between 12 and 17 you can meet your friends outdoors in groups of 6 – but you don’t all have to be from just two households. Now, for everyone – adults and children – I know that today must feel like a step backwards. But please know that thanks to all your efforts over the last six months, we are in a much stronger position than in the spring. Cases are rising but less rapidly than back then. Our Test & Protect system is working well – tracing contacts and breaking chains of transmission. We have much more information on how and where the virus spreads. And we know what we need to do to protect ourselves and others. And all of us have a part to play. So I am asking everyone – please, follow the new rules. They will make a difference. If you can and haven’t already, please also go to protect.scot and download the Protect Scotland app – so more people who might be at risk of the virus can be traced quickly and asked to self-isolate. And remember FACTS – face coverings, avoid crowded areas; clean your hands and surfaces; keep two metre distancing; and self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms. Finally, I know that all of this has been incredibly tough – and six months on it only gets tougher. But never forget that humanity has come through even bigger challenges than this one. And though it doesn’t feel like it now, this virus will pass. It won’t last forever and one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it. So though we are all struggling with this – and believe me, we are all struggling – let’s pull together. Let’s keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping and keep looking out for each other. Be strong, be kind and let’s continue to act out of love and solidarity. I will never find the words to thank all of you enough for the enormous sacrifices you have made so far. And I am sorry to be asking for more. But a belief I hold on to – and one I am asking you to keep faith with in those moments when it all feels too hard – is this. If we stick with it – and, above all, if we stick together – we will get through it.” ARTICLE SOURCE: https://www.gov.scot/news/first-minister-nicola-sturgeons-address-on-coronavirus-measures/ IMAGE SOURCE VIA SCOT GOV: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/iKyNWHItBS RELATED STORY: Nicola Sturgeon statement on additional COVID restrictions 22/0920 Scot Parliament USEFUL LINKS: SCOT GOV WEBSITE: https://www.gov.scot/ SCOT GOV FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/TheScottishGovernment/timeline/ SCOT GOV TWITTER: https://twitter.com/scotgov SCOT GOV YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/scottishgovernment SCOT GOV INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/scotgov/ SCOT GOV FLICKR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/26320652@N02 FIRST MINISTER TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ScotGovFM SNP: https://www.snp.org/ BBC SCOTLAND POLITICS https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/scotland STV SCOTTISH POLITICS: https://news.stv.tv/section/politics

  • Below is Nicola Sturgeon’s full statement to the Scottish Parliament on the implementation of additional COVID restrictions in Scotland. .@NicolaSturgeon outlines why household restrictions have been imposed across Scotland.Latest – https://t.co/uJaXsaY8lu pic.twitter.com/bNwPxLxcXh— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) September 22, 2020 Presiding Officer, I will update the chamber on additional restrictions that the Scottish Government believes are necessary to get Covid back under control as we enter winter. I will also set out why these measures are essential, and the principles and priorities that have guided our decisions. First, though, I will provide a summary of today’s statistics. Since yesterday, an additional 383 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed. That represents 7.6% of the people newly tested, and takes the total number of cases to 25,009. A total of 73 patients are currently in hospital with confirmed Covid-19, which is the same as yesterday. And 10 people are in intensive care which is 2 more than yesterday. I am also sorry to report that in the past 24 hours, one further death has been registered of a patient who had tested positive for the virus. The total number of deaths in Scotland under that measurement is therefore now 2,506. That reminds us of the impact of Covid. These deaths are not just statistics – they are of real people whose loss is a source of heartbreak. My condolences go to everyone who has lost a loved one to this illness. Today’s figures reflect the course the virus has taken in recent weeks. In mid July, we were recording an average of 9 new cases a day. Around 4 weeks later, that had risen to an average of 52 cases a day. Three weeks after that, it was 102. Today it is 285. We have also seen an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive. In late August, that percentage was consistently below 1%. Today it is over 7%. The R number is also above 1 again, possibly as high as 1.4. Now it is worth stressing that this growth in cases – because of the collective sacrifices we all made to drive infection levels down over the summer – is from a low base. It is also, at this stage, far less rapid than in March. But it is rising, faster than we can be comfortable with. We cannot let it continue unchecked. And while in recent weeks, the biggest number of new cases has been in people under the age of 40, we now see an increase amongst the older population too. And unsurprisingly, in light of that, hospital and intensive care admissions and also deaths are starting to rise too. All of this underlines what, for me, is a key point, We cannot be complacent about Covid. It kills too many old and vulnerable people. And for younger, healthier people, while the risks of dying from it are much lower – though not non-existent – it can still result in long term, serious health problems. That’s why action to bring it back under control is necessary – and to bring the R number down again, the action we take now must go beyond the step we announced almost two weeks ago to restrict indoor and outdoor gatherings to 6 people from 2 households. Over the weekend and in the course of yesterday the Scottish Government considered a range of options. On Saturday, I had a discussion with other devolved administrations, and I spoke to the Prime Minister yesterday. I also took part in this morning’s COBR meeting. At that meeting, all four governments committed to suppressing the virus to the lowest possible level and keeping it there. Following on from that meeting, measures to control the virus were agreed at Cabinet. I can confirm that we will introduce measures on hospitality similar to those outlined for England by the Prime Minister a short while ago – and thereby align as far as possible with the rest of the U.K. However, the advice given to the Cabinet by the Chief Medical Officer and the National Clinical Director is that this on its own will not be sufficient to bring the R number down. They stress that we must act, not just quickly and decisively, but also on a scale significant enough to have an impact on the spread of the virus. And they advise that we must take account of the fact that household interaction is a key driver of transmission. To that end, we intend – as Northern Ireland did yesterday – to also introduce nationwide additional restrictions on household gatherings, similar to those already in place in the West of Scotland. I will say more about these measures shortly. Full details will also be published on the Scottish Government’s website. But first let me be clear about the priorities that have guided our decisions. And it is essential that we think in terms of priorities. Faced with a global pandemic of an infectious and dangerous virus, it is not possible to do everything and to live our lives completely normally. No country is able to do that just now. So instead we have to decide what matters most and make trade-offs elsewhere to make those things possible. Of course, the most important priority is saving lives and protecting health. But there are other priorities too. Firstly, we are determined to keep schools open and young people in education. That is vital to the health, wellbeing and future prospects of every young person in the country. Second, we must restart as many previously paused NHS services as possible, so that more people can get the non COVID treatment they need. Our NHS must be equipped this winter to care for those who have COVID – and it will be. But it must be there for people with heart disease, cancer and other illnesses too. And, third, we must protect people’s jobs and livelihoods – that means keeping businesses open and trading as normally as is feasible. To

  • Spending proposals would “reverse devolution”. (17 Sept 2020) Finance Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have met to discuss a range of fiscal matters and voiced their collective concerns about the financial implications the UK Internal Market Bill will have on devolved governments. Kate Forbes, Rebecca Evans and Conor Murphy expressed their joint concerns on the spending powers set out in the Bill which override the existing devolution settlement. The powers enable the UK Government to undertake spending in devolved areas, including for replacement of EU funding, without any engagement with the devolved nations. Finance Ministers also voiced concerns about what this could mean for future consequential funding arrangements. Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes said: “It is entirely unacceptable that – with no prior notice – the UK Government has written provisions into the Bill that presume Whitehall control over the delivery of replacements for the EU funding programme in Scotland – a programme that Scottish Ministers have delivered successfully for decades. “This Bill would also allow the UK Government to dictate how money is spent in devolved areas without the consent of Scottish Ministers. It puts at risk funding for a whole host of capital programmes – schools, hospitals and infrastructure. It reverses the devolution process and we will oppose any attempt to bypass the Scottish Parliament and Government, which are elected by the people of Scotland. “Not only is it in contravention of the devolution settlement, but it has the potential to create confusion, duplication and unnecessary additional bureaucracy at a time when economic recovery is paramount.” Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “I am deeply concerned that the Bill gives UK Ministers, for the first time since devolution, powers to fund activity in areas which are clearly devolved to Wales. “In Wales funding decisions are taken in partnership with local communities, to ensure that they reflect the needs of the people in Wales. The powers set out in the Bill completely undermine devolution and will see decisions currently taken in Wales, clawed back by the UK Government.” Finance Minister for Northern Ireland, Conor Murphy said: “The Internal Market Bill will give the British Government wide ranging powers to make funding decisions in devolved areas. “This is greatly concerning and could have huge implications for the Good Friday Agreement. The British Government should not interfere in funding matters which are currently the responsibility of the Devolved Administrations. “It is also imperative that they provide details on the scope of the Shared Prosperity Fund. This will be a vital source of replacement funding for devolved areas and the lack of meaningful engagement to date is extremely disappointing.” ARTICLE SOURCE: https://www.gov.scot/news/finance-ministers-concern-over-uk-internal-market-bill/

  • The Scottish Government has said it is impossible to recommend the Scottish Parliament gives consent to the UK Government’s Internal Market bill. (8 Sept 2020) The bill, which will be published by the UK Government tomorrow, engages the Sewel Convention, and therefore the UK’s constitutional rules require the consent of Holyrood. (This is an article from The Gov.scot website) *Above image is direct from Twitter and not hosted on this website: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EhaFaI8XsAAIWFA?format=jpg&name=small Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said if the UK Government refuses to respect the will of the Scottish Parliament it will demonstrate once more that the UK’s constitution provides no protection to the devolution settlement and the UK Government can ignore the rules whenever it chooses. Mr Russell said there is no mechanism to challenge such disregard for accepted practice, demonstrating the UK is “not a genuine partnership of equals”. Mr Russell said: “It beggars belief that the UK Government is asking the Scottish Government to recommend consent to the Internal Market Bill. This is not a genuine partnership of equals and we couldn’t recommend consent to a Bill that undermines devolution and the Scottish Parliament, and which, by the UK Government’s own admission, is going to break international law. “This is a shabby blueprint that will open the door to bad trade deals and unleashes an assault on devolution the like we have not experienced since the Scottish Parliament was established. We cannot, and will not, allow that to happen. “It will open the door to a race to the bottom on food standards, environmental standards and will endanger key public health policies such as minimum unit pricing. It will also deliver a hammer blow to the Scottish economy by making it harder for the UK Government to conclude Free Trade agreements if other countries think the UK won’t meet its obligations. “As each day passes, it becomes clearer that the people of Scotland deserve the right to choose a better direction, to determine their own future. That is why, before the end of this parliament, we will set out the terms of a future independence referendum clearly and unambiguously to the people of Scotland, in a draft referendum bill.” Article Source: https://www.gov.scot/news/uk-internal-market-bill/ The @scotgov has said it is impossible to recommend the Scottish Parliament gives consent to the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill. More here: 👉https://t.co/PtSIfsJfUS pic.twitter.com/p0ScaVtYBV — ScotGovEurope (@ScotGovEurope) September 8, 2020

  • Article by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on yes.scot (6 Sept 2020) Independence is the normal form of governance for most nations in the world. Most of them take it, and the ability it affords them to take decisions in their own national interest, for granted. Being independent does not magically solve every problem a country faces, but it does allow the opportunity to deal with those problems in a way best suited to your needs. That is the essence of self-government – but Scotland does not yet have the ability to exercise those independent choices. However, it would seem that independence is now becoming the settled will of a majority of people across Scotland. And the reasons for that are not hard to discern. We have a Westminster government which pays constant lip service to the notion of equal partnership – but which in almost every action it takes completely demolishes that concept. A true union of equals would not have imposed Brexit upon Scotland against the overwhelming majority of Scottish voters. A genuine partnership would not then have then ignored the efforts of the Scottish Government to effect compromise to soften the blow of leaving the world’s biggest single market. The result of that is that we now face the hardest of Brexits, exiting the transition period at the end of this year with either no trade deal at all, or instead what is likely to be a very bad deal – either of which threaten to be disastrous for Scotland. And a Westminster government which cared in any meaningful way about the union it professes to cherish would not engage, as it currently is, in a blatant power grab which threatens to ride roughshod over devolved powers – something that has been attacked by interest groups across Scotland, including leading voices from our business and farming sectors. None of this would be happening were we independent. To compound things, the Tories are committed to scrapping furlough next month instead of following the lead of other European countries which have announced lengthy extensions to their job retention schemes in the face of the pandemic. Again, if Scotland were already independent, with the full economic powers independent countries take for granted, we wouldn’t have to ask the UK Government to extend furlough to protect thousands of Scottish jobs – we could just do it ourselves. Far from making the case for the union, the issue of furlough strengthens the case for Scotland acquiring the full borrowing and other financial tools of an independent country. And it seems that people increasingly agree that Scotland needs those powers. Opinion polls show that, not only do a majority now believe Scotland should be independent, but that Scotland needs independence for our economic prospects to improve. The Scottish Government will publish a draft referendum bill, setting out the proposed terms of an independence referendum, including the question, subject to testing by the Electoral Commission, and the proposed timescale for the vote. And if a majority of MSPs elected to Holyrood next year back a referendum, no UK Government has the right to block the will of the people. For the Tories, simply saying “no” in a bid to stick roadblocks in the way of democracy isn’t even the semblance of a long-term strategy – and increasingly it seems that is being acknowledged within Westminster and Whitehall. Trying to hold back the tide of popular opinion in Scotland didn’t work for the Tories when they argued against devolution in the 1990s – and it won’t work now. Scotland must, and will, have the right to determine its own future, and when that happens I firmly believe the people will choose independence. ARTICLE SOURCE: https://www.yes.scot/scotland-must-and-will-have-the-right-to-choose-its-own-future/

  • First Minister NicolaSturgeon: “As of 9am this morning, there have been 8,672 positive cases confirmed, an increase of 222 since yesterday. While I would still urge caution in interpreting these figures, I remain cautiously optimistic that, while the numbers being admitted to hospital are still fluctuating, they appear to be broadly stable. Secondly, the number being admitted to intensive care are reducing.” “It’s not too long ago we were seriously worried about the potential for our hospital capacity to be overwhelmed by now. The fact it’s not is down to the planning done in the NHS, but more than that, it is down to the high compliance with the lockdown restrictions. My thanks to all of you for helping us ensure the NHS has been able to cope, although the work they do is very difficult and very challenging. Each of these deaths represents much, much more than a statistic. They each represent an individual who was loved by family and friends and whose loss is a source of intense grief. I want to extend my sincere and deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one. Dealing with this public health emergency has, in itself, created an economic emergency. It estimates Scotland’s economic output could fall by a third during this process of social distancing, broadly in line with last week’s projections for the UK as a whole from the OBR. It is likely there has been a significant increase in unemployment since the end of February. Since March 15th there have been 130,000 new claimants for Universal Credit in Scotland. In the comparable period last year that number was 15,500. The Scottish Government’s immediate focus, working with the UK Government, has been on trying to mitigate the impact of this economic shock on people’s wellbeing and on protecting the economy’s productive capacity for the future. Our overall package of support for businesses in Scotland now totals more than £2.3bn, including business rates relief for many sectors and grants for small businesses. The Economy Secretary will set out later today how £100m of funding we announced last week will be used to support people, for example those who have become recently self-employed and might not be eligible for other forms of support. The health of the economy is one of the things we must consider as we think about how to emerge from this period of lockdown. The plans we will publish this week will set out some of the factors we will have to weigh up working to a point when we can allow some businesses to reopen, albeit with some social distancing measures in place. But the economic harm being caused by this virus is not in itself a reason to come out of lockdown early. Indeed, dealing with this public health emergency and continuing to suppress the virus is an absolute prerequisite for a sustainable economic recovery. The work we will publish towards the end of this week will set out in more details the principles that will guide us as we seek to restore as much normality as we can to everyday life without risking a resurgence of this virus that we know can and is doing so much harm. I am very grateful, just as I am to every individual who is complying with these restrictions, to all businesses who’ve acted responsibly by closing their businesses or by ensuring safe social distancing. When I spoke to you last Tuesday I said The Scottish Governement would launch a new mental health campaign. That campaign, the Clear Your Head campaign, starts today. It highlights practical steps that all of us can take to look after our mental health better – sticking to our routine, staying active within the current guidelines, staying in touch with people, and taking a break from news or social media from time to time. It also points people to places you can get help and advice, for example, NHS Inform, helplines including NHS24 Breathing Space, the Samaritans and the Scottish Association for Mental Health. What the campaign recognises is that the current lockdown is really tough for everyone. Everyone will be experiencing it differently but it is tough for everyone, without exception. And it is OK not to be feeling OK at times right now. We all need to be looking out for each other, to show kindness and compassion, solidarity, even as we stay physically separate. We should also do what we can to look after our own mental health, and the campaign provides good advice on that. These restrictions are tough and they will get tougher, not easier. And I know everybody is feeling that increasingly. But they are essential, and as some of the statistics show, they are making a difference. By staying at home we are helping to slow the spread of this virus, we are protecting the National Health Service, and we are saving lives.”

  • Writer Article by Kat Cary 09/04/20: U.S. Politics 2020 Presedential Election I knew that this was coming, but the timing seemed off. About an hour before the campaign livestream, news broke that Senator Bernie Sanders was suspending his bid for the Democrat nomination. As I listened to the broadcast – tuning out from time-to-time as Bernie went through his greatest hits – something grabbed my attention. If you were to guess who he would quote, who would it be? If you are like me and thought it would be Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., give yourself a half-point because he quoted two individuals. The senator from Vermont reserved his initial quote for Nelson Mandela, and the words hit me like a punch in the gut, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” Bernie expanded on the quote, laying down the gauntlet while shooting for the stars in his signature no-nonsense fashion. Four significant issues lay at the heart of his campaign: economic justice, social justice, racial justice, and environmental justice for all who live in the US. He stressed how important it is to believe that fairness and equality are our birthrights as human beings. It is when the will of the people is so loud that it can no longer be ignored by those who hold power, change occurs. And just as I began to do the greatest-hits-tune-out again, he said something that gave me hope. Sanders explained that he is remaining on the ballot for the remainder of the 2020 Democrat primary process, stressing his goal: not to win the nomination, but to collect delegates. His assurance that Our Revolution is not over suddenly became more apparent. Why does this matter? Sanders clearly stated that former Vice President Joe Biden would be the Democratic nominee for 2020, so why cast your ballot for Bernie in the 26 state and territorial primaries between now and the Democratic National Convention (DNC)? There are close to 1,500 undecided delegates. Sanders already has over 900, and here is why that matters: The number of delegates each candidate has collected decides the future of the party. If you are like me and support the Unity Reform Commission that was born out of Bernie’s 2016 success, and delivered a blue wave in 2018, the choice is clear. A vote for Bernie and vote for our future. As I look deeper into the individual rules each state and territory have for 2020, I will provide more detail on each race, and any significant changes regarding the DNC. I will continue to advocate voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary – while wholeheartedly supporting Joe Biden in his 2020 Presidential campaign. Bernie ended his broadcast by stating that the movement isn’t over and that our struggle continues. Perhaps the words of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr are more appropriate during this time in history: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Perhaps it can be summed up simply by saying, “Not me, Us.” Article Original Source; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bernie-sanders-genius-heres-why-kat-cary Author Info: Kat Cary (Edinburgh Scotland) Political Communications & Psychology Research ∙ International and European Politics ∙ Quantitative Analysis using R ∙ US Navy (Ret) Flight Engineer LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kat-cary/ *This article has been reproduced by permission from the author above.

  • April the 6th 2020 marks the 700th Anniversary of The Declaration of Arbroath and the claim of right of an Independent and sovereign Scotland. ANNIVERSARY FILM (Charlie Stuart / Lesley Riddoch) Documentary celebrating the Declaration of Arbroath on the 700th anniversary 6th April 2020 *This video is not hosted on this website – it is a third party embed code and the actual source resides on vimeo.com The Declaration of Arbroath from Charlie Stuart on Vimeo. Twitter: https://twitter.com/cherlieboy Lesley Riddoch: https://www.lesleyriddoch.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/LesleyRiddoch Read Lesley’s article on the anniversary and video on her website: https://www.lesleyriddoch.com/2020/04/declaration-the-letter-of-liberty.html “2020 marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, widely regarded as Scotland’s most iconic document; probably the first declaration in medieval Europe to promote the idea that people are above Kings, that a nation is its people and that any nation has the right to self determination. Written in 1320, its evocative sentiments about freedom and independence have given it special distinction, not just in Scotland, but around the world. But the coronavirus has effectively cancelled all live celebrations of the event in Arbroath and across Scotland, and sadly no UK broadcasters have scheduled any significant TV coverage, though Billy Kay has produced a three-part series for Radio Scotland….” **This video is not hosted on this website – it is a third party embed code and the actual source resides on youtube.com   From Wikipedia; The Declaration of Arbroath is a declaration of Scottish independence, made in 1320. It is in the form of a letter in Latin submitted to Pope John XXII, dated 6 April 1320, intended to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent, sovereign state. Generally believed to have been written in the Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath, and sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles, the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time. The others were a letter from the King of Scots, Robert I, and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all made similar points. READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_Arbroath     ASSOCIATED IMAGES FROM WIKICOMMONS; Images Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Declaration_of_Arbroath   FURTHER READING: Wars of Scottish Independence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Wars_of_Scottish_Independence The Scots Magazine – The Declaration of Arbroath’s Influence: https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/declaration-of-arbroath/ National records Scotland: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/Declaration Robert The Bruce: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_the_Bruce Visit Scotland – Robert The Bruce: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/robert-the-bruce/   SCOTTISH HISTORY: Scotland.org: https://www.scotland.org/about-scotland/history-timeline History of Scotland (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Scotland Timeline of Scottish History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Scottish_history   You Tube Videos on The Declaration of Arbroath: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=declaration+of+arbroath   Scottish Government July 5th 2016:

  • NHS Louisa Jordan The new NHS Scotland medical facility being created at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow is the NHS Louisa Jordan. (This article is from the gov.scot website) Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the temporary hospital will be named after Sister Louisa Jordan, a First World War nurse who died on active service in Serbia in 1915 while providing much-needed care to an area of dire need as part of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Services. Born in Maryhill, Glasgow, Louisa Jordan signed up to the war effort in December 1914 while working as a Queen’s nurse in Buckhaven, Fife. She is commemorated on the Buckhaven War Memorial and at Wilton Church in Glasgow. The people of Serbia gather each year to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of Sister Jordan and her colleagues. Ms Freeman said: “Sister Louisa Jordan, born just a couple of miles north of the SEC in Glasgow’s Maryhill, served with great bravery and distinction in the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Serbia during World War 1. She is a person who has perhaps up until now been better remembered in Serbia than in Scotland. This hospital is a fitting tribute to her service and her courage. “I want to thank the many clinical, operational and construction staff who have been on site at the SEC alongside the army, developing this new temporary hospital. Their work will ensure that, if required, this facility will provide extra capacity for NHS Scotland. “I hope this new hospital will not be needed – but we must prepare for every eventuality. The public’s contributed efforts to stay at home, in addition to the other measures implemented and the steps we are already taking to increase capacity within existing hospitals are all aimed at making sure NHS Scotland can cope with the expected surge in patients. NHS Louisa Jordan will ensure there is even further capacity if needed.” Article Source: https://www.gov.scot/news/nhs-louisa-jordan/ Background The emergency facility announced by the First Minister will be run by NHS Scotland. It will initially create capacity for 300 extra hospital beds, with the ability to expand to over 1,000 if required. USEFUL LINKS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Women%27s_Hospitals_for_Foreign_Service The story of Louisa Jordan – SEC emergency hospital named after heroic Maryhill nurse https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/story-louisa-jordan-sec-emergency-18022345 The new NHS Scotland medical facility created at the @SECGlasgow will be named NHS Louisa Jordan. Sister Louisa Jordan worked as part of the Scottish Women’s Hospital during WWI and died on active service in Serbia. Read more ➡️ https://t.co/80TRHYttsA pic.twitter.com/yUwXXqzjov — Scottish Government (@scotgov) April 1, 2020

  • People advised to limit social contact (16/0320) Those most at risk strongly advised to reduce unnecessary contact. To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact. People over 70 and those who have high risk and underlying health conditions are being strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact. The advice is that people should: minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms avoid using public transport as much as possible work from home when possible follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period. Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should stay at home for 14 days. This package of necessary measures comes into force with immediate effect. Schools will remain open for the time being, however this decision will be consistently monitored and reviewed depending on the spread of the infection. Those who cannot work from home should continue to go to work unless advised by their employer or if they display symptoms. These measures will be kept under constant review as we try to slow down the spread of the infection. The First Minister said: “Life as we know it will change in the coming weeks and months, but our goal is to protect lives. “We are facing an unprecedented situation that will require major societal change if we are to protect people, especially those most at risk and our NHS. “The package of measures we are announcing today is based on scientific and clinical advice. While it will cause some disruption and be difficult for us all, it will help us to prepare for the virus and to protect ourselves and each other in the long run. “We need your help to slow the spread of the infection. That is why we are advising everyone in Scotland to restrict their social contact and to stay at home as much as possible. We are strongly advising those who are over 70 or have an underlying health condition to stay at home. “People have a vital role to play in helping us contain this infection and I urge everyone in Scotland to follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. “This has not been an easy decision but it is vital if we are to stop the spread of the infection.” THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE GOV.SCOT WEBSITE: https://www.gov.scot/news/people-advised-to-limit-social-contact/ Public should only contact GP or NHS 111 if symptoms worsen. LINKED INFORMATION: For those under 70 underlying health conditions refers to all those eligible for the flu vaccine. Those who have compromised immune systems will be contacted with specific advice in the coming days. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will update the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 17 March on the Scottish Government’s plans to build up and scale up capacity in Scotland’s National Health Service. Read the COVID-19 Guidance for Non-Healthcare Settings. Further additional guidance and information, including links to guidance for travellers and the general public, can also be found on HPS’ COVID-19 page. The latest numbers of test results are published at 2pm each day on the Scottish Government website. Common symptoms of coronavirus include: • fever or a temperature of above 37.8°C • persistent cough Updates on public health advice for coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon @scotgov news conference update on #coronavirus 16/03/20pic.twitter.com/GCgT2qeKrZRead More: https://t.co/vxhTTA3PrN— ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) March 16, 2020

  • (15/03/20) The Scottish Government has announced measures to increase and track the spread of Corona Virus in Scotland. This will allow for more detailed statistical analysis and help with measures to address relevant action to take in response. (The following Information is from the gov.scot website) Surveillance testing for COVID-19 (coronavirus) will be expanded to monitor the spread of the virus in the community. The programme will be extended to GP practices covering up to 1.2 million people across all health boards in Scotland. It will test people presenting with relevant symptoms, including with flu-like symptoms or general respiratory illness and underlying health conditions. It will also support the continued testing of people admitted to hospital with symptoms. People following the guidance to stay at home for seven days if they have mild symptoms of a new cough or raised temperature will not be routinely tested – and will continue to be advised to only phone NHS 111 or contact the GP if their condition worsens. Surveillance testing will provide real-time information on how the virus is spreading in Scotland, which will inform NHS planning and allow resources to be directed where they are needed most. Key workers such as NHS staff will continue to be tested if they show symptoms. Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has said. “This new approach to testing will enable us to understand the pattern and spread of coronavirus in the community, to develop a clear assessment of the situation and to predict the peak number of cases, without having to test everyone with possible symptoms. “Those with mild symptoms do not need to be tested. They should continue to stay at home for seven days and only contact their GP or 111 if their condition worsens. “Everybody has a role to play in helping contain this outbreak by following the latest health advice and basic hygiene precautions such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.” THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE GOV.SCOT WEBSITE: https://www.gov.scot/news/covid-19-testing-update/ Public should only contact GP or NHS 111 if symptoms worsen. LINKED INFORMATION: Chief Medical Officer’s letter to health boards. Read the COVID-19 Guidance for Non-Healthcare Settings. https://hpspubsrepo.blob.core.windows.net/hps-website/nss/2973/documents/1_COVID-19-Guidance-for-non-healthcare-settings.pdf Further additional guidance can also be found on HPS’ COVID-19 page. https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/covid-19/ The latest numbers of test results are published at 2pm each day on the Scottish Government website. https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/ Common symptoms of coronavirus include: • fever or a temperature of above 37.8°C • new continuous cough Updates on public health advice for coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816. For anyone who is planning to travel abroad, guidance can be found on fitfortravel. Where a COVID-19 risk is identified, country pages will be updated. The NHS and government are well-prepared to deal with coronavirus (#COVIDー19). There are some simple steps you can take to help. Please watch and share this video ⬇️Follow @NHS24 for the latest health adviceLearn more ➡️ https://t.co/TJ6rCC8vKX pic.twitter.com/alrIaJ9ZA4— Scot Gov Health (@scotgovhealth) March 13, 2020

  • (14/03/20) The Scottish Government has announced a range of measures to assist business in Scotland during the #coronavirus outbreak. Immediate action in response to COVID-19. New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. The following steps will be put in place to support businesses during the 2020-21 financial year: • a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020 • an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19 • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020 • a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020 The Finance Secretary will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period. Ms Forbes said: “COVID-19 will have challenging implications for businesses and the economy over the coming weeks and months. “As well as following the latest health and travel advice, it’s also crucial we consider the latest economic analysis and listen carefully to what the business community is telling us. We know that the tourism and hospitality sectors are facing immediate pressure, which is why we have directed support to them in particular. “All rate-payers will benefit from a relief that effectively reverses the planned inflationary uplift in the poundage that was due to come into effect in April. “The measures I’m announcing today will provide £320 million of assistance to Scottish business and ensures that all Non Domestic Rate consequentials we expect to receive from the UK Government associated with the COVID-19 outbreak will be used to provide Scottish business with support through what is likely to be a difficult time. We will also be making the case to the UK Government that, because of the larger number of small businesses in Scotland, we need additional resources to be able to provide further support. “Businesses receiving support are being encouraged to operate with fair work principles including supporting staff to self-isolate when they need to and if they have caring responsibilities and to consider keeping staff in employment where at all possible. “We continue to work closely with our partners to identify what further support is needed and I’d encourage any businesses with questions relating to the impact of COVID-19 to contact the helpline we launched this week.” COVID-19 helpline for Scottish businesses The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team. The article is from the scot.gov website: Page Source: https://www.gov.scot/news/gbp-320-million-package-of-support-for-businesses/

  • (04/03/20) Cabinet Secretary updates MSPs on EU talks. The Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe & External Affairs Michael Russell has updated the Scottish Parliament on latest brexit developments. The UK Government risks “breaching the basic premise of the Union” in EU-UK negotiations if it fails to respect the Scottish legal system, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell has warned. In a statement updating the Scottish Parliament on the Brexit negotiations, Mr Russell said the Scottish Government and Parliament must be involved in deciding the UK negotiating stance on devolved matters such as fisheries, the environment and justice, as well as the many other issues that will affect Scotland. He added that the UK Government was intent on a hard Brexit which “will result in the people of Scotland being worse off financially, cut off practically and turned off politically from the European mainstream”. Mr Russell said: “Devolved issues such as agriculture, environment and fisheries will be at the heart of these negotiations. As the legally and politically responsible body this Parliament and this Government must be involved in deciding on what stance to take. “The UK Government must respect and take full account of the Scottish legal system – our separate courts, prosecution system and police. To fail to do so would be a breach not just of convention, nor even of the devolution settlement, but of the basic premise on which the Union is founded, for that includes protection for our legal system. “No-one speaks for us, and no-one speaks about us, without us. “We are now entering an even more difficult phase of the Brexit process which, if handled the way the UK Government proposes, will have severe negative impacts for the vast majority of people in Scotland. I continue to urge the UK Government to move back from its current aggressive rhetoric and ideological obsession with a very damaging hard Brexit. “But I also urge this chamber to speak up for Scotland and put differences aside to do so.” This article is from the gov.scot website: https://www.gov.scot/news/scotlands-voice-must-be-heard/

  • (19/02/20) Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said: “The UK Government’s immigration proposals are an insult to Scotland – they completely disregard the needs of our employers, our public services and our communities. “There is a clear need for a fundamentally different approach to migration policy to reflect Scotland’s distinct demographic and geographical needs. The UK Government promised a system that would deliver for all of the UK including Scotland yet these proposals do not reflect the clear evidence from employers, local authorities, universities and experts about their needs. Indeed there is not a single reference to Scotland in the document. “Telling employers that they will just need to adjust will be deeply concerning to our agriculture sector; to our care sector; and to our transport sector. We need an evidence based approach to immigration policy which reflects the needs of our economy and has been developed through engagement with employers and communities. “The Scottish Government put forward a clear, workable proposal of devolving immigration powers by introducing a Scottish Visa, which would allow Scotland to attract and retain people with the skills and attributes we need for our communities and economy to flourish. “Our proposals have widespread support across the business and third sector communities in Scotland, and it is time the UK Government listened to those voices, instead of ploughing ahead with their deeply damaging proposals which will devastate the Scottish economy and our future prosperity.” ARTICLE SOURCE: Scot Gov Website https://www.gov.scot/news/response-to-uk-goverments-immigration-proposals/ 'UK immigration plans devastating for Scotland''A cross-party report has previously found Scotland faced demographic divergence with the rest of the UK – and that this will mean we have less money to spend on public services'. https://t.co/jmNETpBNAM— ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) February 19, 2020

  • (17/2/20) – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined new appointments to the Scottish Government and cabinet. Following her delivery of the Scottish Budget, Kate Forbes has been nominated as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, while Fiona Hyslop will build on a hugely successful period as External Affairs Secretary by taking responsibility for the economy as Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture. As the process of Brexit, and the discussion on Scotland’s constitutional future move into a new phase, Michael Russell’s responsibilities will be expanded as Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs. Fergus Ewing will take on responsibility for tourism as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism. Jenny Gilruth has been nominated to join the Government as Minister for Europe and International Development, where she will support Michael Russell. Ben Macpherson will move to join the Finance team as Minister for Public Finance and Migration – where they will continue to make the strong economic and social case for a distinct migration policy for Scotland. Mr Macpherson will also work on issues around green and climate finance, to help ensure all of Scotland can deliver on our target of ending our contribution to climate change. He will also be tasked with ensuring that wellbeing sits at the heart of the budget process. The First Minister will propose the appointment of Kate Forbes to Cabinet and of Jenny Gilruth as a Minister to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday). Unveiling her new cabinet and government appointments, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “These appointments bring new talent into government and deliver a real focus, not only on driving forward our economy, but also on addressing the challenges of Brexit, increasing our population and ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis. “I am pleased to make these appointments and – in particular – to be able to put Scotland’s finances and Scotland’s economy into the hands of two incredibly talented colleagues. “Fiona Hyslop has been an outstanding Cabinet Secretary, delivering a successful expansion of Scotland’s overseas presence and recognition, supporting our booming tourism industry and demonstrating the huge importance of culture – not just to our economy, but more importantly to who we are and how we see ourselves. “I know she will bring that drive, passion and sharp focus to Scotland’s economy. Working alongside Kate Forbes as the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, she will continue to drive forward our economy, support our key industries and maintain Scotland’s long tradition as an outward-looking, dynamic and enterprising nation. “Ben Macpherson will continue to make the case for Scotland to have a distinct migration system in order to meet our economic, social and financial needs – and as Public Finance Minister will also take the lead on identifying ways to fund climate action, and he will work across government to build a wellbeing economy. “Jenny Gilruth will join government for the first time – having proven herself as a talented and hard-working MSP – and takes on the role of Minister for Europe and International Development. She will have the important task of promoting Scotland, building new links in a post-Brexit environment and delivering on our global responsibilities – and I know she is more than up to that challenge.” New Appointments •Cabinet Secretary for Finance – Kate Forbes (who also retains her current responsibility for the Digital Economy) •Public Finance and Migration – Ben Macpherson •Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture – Fiona Hyslop •Minister for Europe and International Development – Jenny Gilruth New Responsibilities •Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs – Michael Russell •Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism – Fergus Ewing Article Source: Scot Gov Website >> https://www.gov.scot/news/cabinet-appointments/

  • Speech by The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon at Dynamic Earth Edinburgh, commenting on the Scottish Government position on Brexit and the case/strategy for a new Independence Referendum. “This is a pivotal moment for the UK and Scotland. Tonight, the UK will leave the European Union. That will be a moment of real and profound sadness for many of us across the UK. And here in Scotland, given that it is happening against the will of the vast majority of us, that sadness will be tinged with anger. It would be easy to dwell on that. On what is being taken away from us. But that is not what I want to do today. Instead I want to focus on something much more important. Hope. Hope of a different and better future for Scotland. A future in which our path as a country is determined by those who care most about Scotland’s interests – all of us who live here. A future in which we don’t have to choose between a relationship with our closest friends across the British Isles and our ties with Europe – but can instead build and nurture both. A future where our own Parliament and Government – accountable to the people of Scotland – are responsible for the decisions and the international partnerships that shape our direction and our destiny. A future where we continue to be an open, welcoming place to live, study and work. And a valued member of the European family of nations. After tonight, that future is only open to us with independence. Our task is to persuade a majority of people in Scotland to choose it. WATCH THE SPEECH ON VIDEO 'Nicola Sturgeon’s statement on Scotland’s Future'https://t.co/zAFSPcc2kA— ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) January 31, 2020 So I want to focus today on the work we need to do to persuade a majority in Scotland that independence is the right choice – and how in the process of doing that, we will secure our right to choose it in a referendum. Of course, people have differing views on whether or not Scotland should be independent, but the case for us having the right to make that choice is overwhelming. As of 11pm tonight, the UK that Scotland voted to remain part of in 2014 – a UK inside the EU – will no longer be a reality. The status quo that a majority voted for will no longer exist. There will be a material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014. Leaving the EU is a fundamental change in Scotland’s constitution. The consequences will be significant, even if they are not all felt immediately. Right now, Scotland does not have the powers to mitigate many of these consequences let alone avoid them altogether. And the UK Government has shown no interest at all in finding ways to accommodate our distinctive views and interests. Take the vital issue of migration. On Monday I published proposals that would, in a post Brexit world and within current constitutional arrangements, allow Scotland to address our distinctive population challenge. These proposals have significant support from across civic Scotland and the business community. And yet within hours and with no consideration whatsoever they were dismissed out of hand. Fewer people able to come to Scotland to live and work risks a working age population going into decline. That means fewer people available to do the jobs that need done in our private businesses and public sector, including our NHS. And it means fewer people paying the taxes that we need to fund these public services. It means an economy stagnating not growing, and Scotland not reaching our full potential. That is just one way in which we know already and with certainty that the folly of Brexit coupled with the deaf ear of Westminster will damage Scotland’s prosperity and wellbeing. And as will become stark in the months ahead, it will not be the only consequence of Brexit that will be harmful to Scotland. Exactly how Brexit will develop beyond tonight is not yet certain. Negotiations about the terms and nature of the UK’s new relationship with the EU haven’t started yet. New cliff edges have been created by the UK Government and a devastating No deal outcome at the end of the transition remains possible. For my part, I hope that the future relationship will be a close one, and I will do all I can to encourage that. But be under no illusion. All the signs from this Tory government are that instead of co-operation and close relationships they are heading for divergence and de-regulation. What that will mean in the future for workers’ rights and environmental protection, for the shape of our economy and the nature of our society will be profound. And, while this will be of little interest to a Tory government, the impact will be felt most by those who already have the least – the vulnerable and the poor. So we know that change is coming. But it does not have to be the change the Tories want to impose on Scotland. A new independence referendum will put the decision about the best path for Scotland into our own hands. And there is a cast-iron mandate from the public and from the Scottish Parliament for a referendum. The SNP has won three successive parliamentary elections on the commitment to give people the choice. And this week the Scottish Parliament has endorsed that position. That the Tories are trying to block a referendum only shows their contempt for democracy in Scotland. And – somewhat counter productively for them – it serves to illustrate how unequal this supposedly equal union is. We should also remember this. Fundamentally, the Tory position is a sign of weakness not strength. If they had any confidence in the argument for the Westminster union, they would have no problem with the people of Scotland having the right to choose. It is the fear of defeat that is

  • Thousands of people have marched in Inverness supporting calls for Scottish independence. An estimated 12,000 people were on the march which is the latest in a series all over Scotland over the last few years. Thousands of people march in Inverness at the latest public event in support of Scottish Independence. See thread for tweets from marchers. #inverness #indyref2 #freedommarchinverness #scottishindependence pic.twitter.com/oMNtDOT7DN — ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) January 25, 2020 RELATED LINKS: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-51237546 http://www.thehighlandtimes.com/news/2020/01/25/inverness-freedom-march/

  • Latest Featured News Articles From the gov.scot website Boosting Scotland’s exports First Minister stresses importance of international links. Efforts are being stepped up to help Scottish companies increase their exports following Brexit. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told business leaders and trade experts it was more important than ever for Scotland to strengthen its ties with other nations. In a keynote speech at the CBI’s International Trade conference in Edinburgh, the First Minister detailed initiatives being taken to help meet the Scottish Government’s 10 year target of increasing exports from 20 per cent to 25 per cent of Scotland’s GDP. READ MORE: https://www.gov.scot/news/boosting-scottish-exports/ A new bank for Scotland Scottish National Investment Bank Bill passes stage 3. Legislation to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank has been passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament. The new institution will direct investments that deliver economic, environmental and social returns, and help Scotland’s journey towards net-zero carbon emissions. It will aim to increase innovation, give support to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), and build a high-tech and inclusive economy. The bank is expected to be operational before the end of the year. It will have an initial capitalisation of £2 billion over 10 years with the aim that it will ultimately become self-financing. Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “The Scottish National Investment Bank has the potential to transform Scotland’s society by powering innovation and building a high-tech, inclusive economy. READ MORE: https://www.gov.scot/news/a-new-bank-for-scotland/ Refreshed plan for economic growth New website among range of actions. A new website which makes it easier for businesses to get information and support is one of the measures in a refreshed Economic Action Plan for Scotland. Findbusinesssupport.gov.scot contains hundreds of products, services and events from Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies, and will be further developed to host content from across Scotland’s public sector. The new site is one of the commitments in the refreshed plan, launched by Economy Secretary Derek Mackay at a business breakfast in Edinburgh. READ MORE: https://www.gov.scot/news/refreshed-plan-for-economic-growth/ Most vulnerable at risk from Brexit Report finds 137 separate impacts. The UK’s exit from the EU is highly likely to negatively impact the most vulnerable people in Scotland, a new report has found. ‘The Social and Equality Impacts of Brexit’ is an independent report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, which has identified 137 potential impacts on those already facing inequality, discrimination, or social exclusion. The report highlights impacts including the loss of legal rights, employment protections, funding opportunities, healthcare rights, and supply and access to food, fuel and medicines. Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “The Scottish Government has repeatedly warned that any kind of Brexit will be disastrous for our most vulnerable citizens. “The UK Government failed to carry out any meaningful assessment on the impact of Brexit, including an Equality Impact Assessment. The Scottish Government asked an independent expert Dr Eve Hepburn to review the social and equality impacts of leaving the EU on people in Scotland and across the UK. READ MORE: https://www.gov.scot/news/most-vulnerable-at-risk-from-brexit/

  • 11 Jan 2020: Thousands of people from all over Scotland march in Glasgow at the ‘All Under One Banner’ event in support of Scottish Independence Thousands march in Glasgow in support of Scottish Independence.#AUOBGlasgow #auob #indyref2pic.twitter.com/IZerjzpXsv — ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) January 11, 2020 See thread below for tweets and news from the event. #AUOBGlasgow #auob #indyref2 Thousands of people from all over Scotland march in Glasgow at the ‘All Under One Banner’ event in support of Scottish Independence See thread for tweets and news from the event.#AUOBGlasgow #auob #indyref2@AUOBALBA pic.twitter.com/FbS9l9LybM — ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) January 11, 2020 More Links: STV NEWS: https://news.stv.tv/west-central/thousands-march-through-glasgow-to-demand-indyref2/ Thousands march through Glasgow to demand IndyRef2. BBC NEWS: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-51067690 Independence supporters march through Glasgow

  • First Minister: “Democracy must and will prevail.” The democratic case for Scotland having the ability to choose its own constitutional future is published today in a new document. The paper – entitled “Scotland’s Right to Choose: Putting Scotland’s Future in Scotland’s Hands” – lays out the detailed case for how and why the country should be able to have the choice of independence in a referendum. The document includes a specific call on the UK Government to “enter discussions about the Scottish Government’s mandate for giving the people of Scotland a choice, and to agree legislation with the Scottish Government that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence.” Launching the document at Bute House in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is a fundamental democratic principle that decisions on Scotland’s constitutional future should rest with the people who live here. “As this document lays out, the Scottish Government has a clear democratic mandate to offer people a choice on that future in an independence referendum, and the UK Government has a democratic duty to recognise that. Last week’s General Election has only strengthened that mandate. “Today, I am publishing the constitutional and democratic case for Scotland having that choice. “It is rooted in the principle of self-determination, in the material change of circumstances since the 2014 exercise of that right, and in the democratic mandate that exists for offering the choice afresh. “In a voluntary association of nations such as the UK, it cannot be in the interest of any part for our right to choose our own future to be conditional, or time limited or a one-off. “Nor is it right for it to be over-ridden by a Prime Minister, or indeed a First Minister. “It is a fundamental right of self-determination. The ability for Scotland to exercise that right now matters because the alternative is a future we have rejected. “The mandate we have to offer the Scottish people a choice over their future is, by any normal standard of democracy, unarguable.” The First Minister added: “We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence. “Together with the constitutional and democratic case for that transfer of power, we are also publishing the draft legislation that would give effect to it. “Of course, I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK Government’s opposition. But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter. “In this context, the question is often posed to me – what will you do if the Prime Minister says no? “But the document we are publishing today turns the question on its head. “It is for the Prime Minister to defend why he believes the UK is not a voluntary union of equal nations. It is for him to set out why he does not believe people in Scotland have the right to self-determination. “And it is for the Prime Minister to explain why he believes it is acceptable to ignore election after election in Scotland and to over-ride a democratic mandate stronger than the one he claims for his Brexit deal. “We live in a democracy, and ultimately democracy must and will prevail.” VIEW THE FULL PDF DOCUMENT ON THE SCOT GOV WEBSITE: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/publication/2019/12/scotlands-right-choose-putting-scotlands-future-scotlands-hands/documents/scotlands-right-to-choose-putting-scotlands-future-in-scotlands-hands/scotlands-right-to-choose-putting-scotlands-future-in-scotlands-hands/govscot%3Adocument/scotlands-right-choose-putting-scotlands-future-scotlands-hands.pdf

  • ‘Mandates, Mandates, Roll Up For Your Mandates….Plenty To Choose From’ The Conservative Party Has No Mandate In Scotland (***Some Mandates may have extra terms and conditions!) Short Commentary by Solon Scotland In the wake of the UK General Election in December 2019 the term ‘mandate’ is at the very core of both Scottish and UK Politics, but as is patently clear it appears that some mandates are only deemed acceptable if they are UK Mandates? Boris Johnson has a mandate to govern on 43% UK support. That mandate is also seen as acceptable to ‘Get Brexit Done’. NOTE HERE THAT THE MANDATE DOES NOT REQUIRE 50% SUPPORT TO BE DEEMED DEMOCRATICALLY ACCEPTED? THE LARGEST VOTE IS WHAT COUNTS! BY THIS STANDARD THEN THE CONSERVATIVES HAVE NO MANDATE OF ANY KIND IN SCOTLAND. THE PARTY HAS NOT WON A NATIONAL ELECTION OF ANY KIND IN SCOTLAND SINCE THE 1950’s! THEY ARE NEVER, EVER ANYWHERE NEAR THE LARGEST PARTY IN SCOTLAND. How long can this situation go on for? ..Scotland does not vote Conservative in majority, ever! The party trades on anything from 15% up to 30% on average in Scotland in National Elections, yet it continually espouses what it demands for ‘Scoticus Torius’ and gives us UK Governments we do not vote for. Since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 Scotland will have been governed by Conservatives (as part of the UK) for 28 years…(1979 – 1997 & 2010 – 2020) 9 years currently, plus 5 more years and counting for Boris Johnson. HOW LONG CAN THIS SITUATION GO ON FOR? WHEN WILL PEOPLE SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, THERE IS NO MANDATE FOR CONSERVATIVE UK GOVERNMENTS IN SCOTLAND? YOU MAY SAY THE UK VOTE IS THE MANDATE …BUT SCOTLAND IS A NATION IT IS A NATION IN ITS OWN RIGHT IN A UNION – THAT MEANS ITS VOTES HAVE A MANDATE AS A NATIONAL VOTE. The Conservative Government have less support in the UK than The SNP in Scotland. General Election 2019 saw The Conservative Party score 43% UK wide and the SNP score 44% support in Scotland. Over 50% of the UK do not support Boris Johnson’s Government, over 70% of Scotland do not support Boris Johnson’s Government. LONG TERM CONTINUATION OF SCOTLAND IN THE UK UNION IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES IS IMPOSSIBLE. Scotland is a nation in its own right, albeit currently a nation within the UK Union, but that is why you cannot simply apply UK mandates and conversely ignore Scottish mandates, ..it is an untenable position. Boris Johnson has now claimed a mandate ‘To Get Brexit Done’, he does that on less than 50% support because first past the post means that the largest party makes the rules, that is how it works, In that case a Scottish Parliament returning an independence majority in 2016 has a mandate for a new Independence Referendum. That mandate has been confirmed in Scottish Westminster Elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019 respectively in Scottish Westminster General Elections. The SNP have won each of these elections convincingly in Scotland. The SNP mandate is rock solid if your opinion is that Boris Johnson has a UK Govt mandate on 43% support. The SNP mandate is rock solid if your opinion is that Boris Johnson has a ‘ Get Brexit Done’ mandate on 43% support. ..THAT IS BECAUSE SCOTLAND IS A NATION AND THE PARAMETERS THAT APPY TO THE UK VOTE APPLY SIMILARLY TO THE SCOTTISH ELECTORAL VOTE!

  • Scotland ‘closer to deciding its own future’ Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has described the passing of the Referendums (Scotland) Bill today as an important step forward in allowing Scotland to choose its own future. The rules approved by MSPs will ensure any future referendum covered by the Bill meet the highest international standards. This is an article from the Scottish Government Website: https://www.gov.scot/news/approval-for-referendums-bill/ Mr Russell said: “Today we are closer to giving the Scottish people a choice over the path our country should take. With this legislative framework in place, it only requires a short Bill for an independence referendum to be held once a transfer of power, which puts holding a referendum beyond challenge, is devolved to the Scottish Government. “These robust regulations will allow debate to focus on the issues at stake in referendums, not procedure, and ensure that the results can be accepted by all parties. “Legal changes are required to keep pace with the way campaigns are now conducted. To protect the space for rational, respectful debate, it must be clear who is behind online campaign activity, while those who break rules should be properly sanctioned. This Bill addresses both these issues.” The Referendums (Scotland) Bill introduces tighter controls on social media campaigning and bigger fines for those who break the rules. It incorporates the Scottish franchise, meaning 16-year-olds and EU citizens will be eligible to vote. Questions used in referendums will be tested by the Electoral Commission to establish they are clear, transparent and neutral. They will be valid for one parliamentary term, with a provision to extend the time limit with the Scottish Parliament’s approval. In addition, Parliament can ask the commission to review a question at any time. Background The Referendums (Scotland) Bill provides a legislative framework for the holding of all future referendums on devolved issues in Scotland. It includes a requirement that online campaign material contains an imprint showing the name and address of the person responsible. The maximum civil penalty the Electoral Commission can impose on rule breakers is increased from £10,000 to £500,000. The Presiding Officer will submit the Bill to the Queen for Royal Assent. Once this is received, the Bill becomes an Act of the Scottish Parliament and is part of the law of Scotland.

  • There are moments in history when it is important to stand back from the day to day twists and turns of politics and consider some fundamental questions. This is such a time for Scotland. The experience of the last three and a half years has raised big questions about how we see ourselves as a country and our place in the world. It has raised questions about our voice and our democracy. And about our future – what kind of country and society do we want to be? At the heart of these questions is a belief held by almost everyone in Scotland that we are a nation. No better and no worse than any other – but an equal nation. And as a nation, our future – whatever we choose it to be – must be in the hands of the people who live here. We can choose to stay part of the Westminster union or we can choose – as I would – to be independent. But the choice must be ours. Today, I am publishing the constitutional and democratic case for Scotland having that choice. It is rooted in the principle of self-determination, in the material change of circumstances since the 2014 exercise of that right, and in the democratic mandate that exists for offering the choice afresh. In a voluntary association of nations such as the UK, it cannot be in the interest of any part for our right to choose our own future to be conditional, or time limited, or a one off. Nor is it right for it to be over-ridden by a Prime Minister, or indeed a First Minister. It is a fundamental right of self-determination. The ability for Scotland to exercise that right now matters, because the alternative is a future that we have rejected being imposed upon us. Scotland made clear last week that it doesn’t want a Tory government, led by Boris Johnson, taking us out of Europe and down a path we haven’t chosen. But that is the future we face if we don’t have the opportunity to consider the alternative of independence. And it is a very different future to the one in prospect when Scotland voted No to independence in 2014. There has been a material change in circumstances. There is also a democratic mandate to offer that choice. In the election last Thursday the SNP campaigned explicitly on the clear pledge that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands. Our manifesto said this: “An SNP election victory will be a clear instruction by the people of Scotland that a new referendum on independence should be held next year, on a precise date to be determined by the Scottish Parliament.” The SNP won that election – convincingly – with a higher vote share and a higher percentage of seats than the Tories won UK wide. The Conservatives in Scotland, who campaigned relentlessly on the single issue of opposition to another referendum, lost – overwhelmingly. The SNP victory last week follows others in 2016 and 2017. So the mandate we have to offer the Scottish people a choice over their future is, by any normal standard of democracy, unarguable. Now let me be clear – again – that I don’t take the outcome of an independence referendum for granted. Nor do I assume that everyone who voted SNP last week necessarily supports independence. I recognise the work we have to do to persuade a clear majority of people in Scotland that independence is the best future for our country. That is why in the months ahead, we will update the detailed and substantive case for Scotland becoming an independent nation. And, of course, in a referendum, those who believe that Scotland should stay part of the Westminster union will be able to make that case. So I accept that the case for independence is yet to be won. But the election last week put beyond reasonable argument our mandate to offer people in Scotland the choice. We built a coalition around this principle. And now the election is over, I believe an even broader coalition is being formed. The right to choose is not just a demand from me as First Minister or from the SNP. It is based on the solemn right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future. The Scottish Government believes that right should be exercised free from the threat of legal challenge. In line with our values, we acknowledge that a referendum must be legal and that it must be accepted as legitimate, here in Scotland and the rest of the UK as well as in the EU and the wider international community. We are therefore today calling for the UK Government to negotiate and agree the transfer of power that would put beyond doubt the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum on independence. Together with the constitutional and democratic case for that transfer of power, we are also publishing the draft legislation that would give effect to it. Of course, I anticipate that in the short term we will simply hear a restatement of the UK government’s opposition. But they should be under no illusion that this will be an end of the matter. We will continue to pursue the democratic case for Scotland’s right to choose. We will do so in a reasonable and considered manner. And we are setting out that case in detail because we believe that the UK government – on this as on any issue – has a duty to respond in a similarly considered and reasonable manner. Of course, much of the debate at Westminster has been based on the idea that it is the right of the Westminster Parliament and the Prime Minister of the day – not the people who live here – to determine Scotland’s future. In this context the question is often posed to me – what will you do if Boris Johnson says no? As I

  • Presiding Officer, with your permission, I wish to make a statement on the outcome of last week’s general election. Let me begin by thanking the returning officers and everybody involved in organising the election. Their efficiency, integrity and hard work, in this case at short notice, are essential to the smooth conduct of our democracy. I also congratulate successful candidates, from all parties. And I commiserate with unsuccessful candidates. As somebody who stood unsuccessfully in two Westminster general elections, I have a good understanding of how they feel. In addition, it’s worth recognising that this was the first December general election in more than 90 years. I suspect that the candidates and activists who are still thawing out will hope that it is some time until the next winter election. However, notwithstanding the challenges of bad weather and dark nights, it is important to note that turnout in Scotland actually increased, a fact that I am sure will be welcomed by all of us. “This is a watershed moment for Scotland.” First Minister @NicolaSturgeon says she is ‘taking the next steps to ensure Scotland’s right to choose’ is upheld and warns many voters fear the UK Tory government will pose a danger ‘to the fabric of society.’pic.twitter.com/8bs4Ru58C1 — ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) December 17, 2019 Presiding officer, The election was comprehensively won in Scotland by the SNP. Indeed, you have to go as far back as the election of Ted Heath in 1970 – the year I was born – to find a party that got a higher share of the vote across the UK than the SNP did in Scotland last week. That is, by any measure, a significant vote of confidence. I and my colleagues will work each and every day to repay the trust that has been placed in us. It was also an endorsement of our election message – that Scotland does not want a Boris Johnson government and we don’t want to leave the EU; and that, while opinions may differ on the substantive question of independence, we do want Scotland’s future to be in Scotland’s hands. By contrast, while the Conservative Party won a majority UK wide, they were once again heavily defeated here in Scotland, having fought the election on the single issue of opposition to an independence referendum. They lost not just vote share, but also more than half of their seats. In fact, the Conservatives have now lost 17 consecutive Westminster elections in Scotland – stretching back to 1959. But in spite of that, we face a majority Tory government implementing a manifesto that Scotland rejected. Furthermore, 74 per cent of votes in Scotland were cast for parties that either supported remaining in the EU or were in favour of a second EU referendum. 90 per cent of seats were won by pro EU or pro EU referendum parties. But regardless, we are set to be dragged out of the EU against our will. Presiding Officer, such a democratic deficit is not just undesirable, it is also completely and utterly unsustainable. The fact is that this election demonstrated a fundamental point. The kind of future desired by most people in Scotland is very clearly different to that favored by much of the rest of the UK. It is essential therefore that a future outside of Europe and governed by an increasingly right wing Conservative government is not foisted upon Scotland. Instead, we must have the right to consider the alternative of independence. That is why, later this week, in line with repeated election mandates – reinforced once again on Thursday – I will publish the detailed democratic case for a transfer of power from Westminster to this Parliament to allow for an independence referendum that is beyond legal challenge. This parliament will also vote on the final stage of the Referendums (Scotland) Bill which puts in place the framework for a future referendum. There are already some signs that those who previously opposed an independence referendum are, when faced with the democratic reality of Thursday’s result, now re-thinking that position. I welcome that. But let me be clear about this. I do not assume that an acceptance of Scotland’s right to choose will always equate to support for independence – just as I do not assume that everyone who voted SNP last week is yet ready to vote for independence. I recognise the work that those of us who support independence still have to do to persuade a clear majority in Scotland that it is the best way forward for our country. But, nevertheless, it is clear that there is a growing, cross party recognition that election mandates must be honoured, that there has been a material change of circumstances and that the question of independence must be decided by the people and not by politicians. Given the nature of what we are facing in terms of UK governance, this is now a matter of some urgency – which is why this government wants people to have a choice next year. Back in the early 1990s, when Scotland was also facing the prospect of a fourth Tory government with no mandate here, there was a coming together of political parties, communities and civic Scotland. That resulted in the establishment of this Parliament. It has achieved much. But a new, Brexit focused Tory government presents risks that few would have predicted at the dawn of devolution. So I hope in the coming days and weeks we will see a similar coming together around the idea of Scotland’s right to choose a better future. Of course, we must also re-double our efforts to protect Scotland as best we can with the powers we already have. This government is determined to do that and I would ask other parties in this chamber to support us in that task. To cite just one example, the Resolution Foundation last month published research showing that under Conservative plans for social security, child poverty could reach a 60 year

  • STV REPORT: More than 100,000 people are estimated to have attended a pro-Scottish independence march through the streets of Edinburgh. Several pro-indy groups and organisations joined the All Under One Banner (AUOB) procession on Saturday afternoon. Organisers have now estimated that more than 100,000 people took part in the event. Gary Kelly, of AUOB, said: “It’s buzzing – the rain may be on but the people are not deterred. “Our appetite for independence is still alive.” Bands, bikers, dogs, people in fancy dress and countless Saltire flags were all part of the rally towards the Meadows. Chants of “What do we want? Independence” could also be heard roaring up the Royal Mile. The march began at Holyrood Park at 1pm and began proceeding up the Royal Mile from there. https://news.stv.tv/east-central/1441352-organisers-say-100-000-indy-supporters-joined-march/?top Thousands of people from all over Scotland march in Edinburgh at the ‘All Under One Banner’ event in support of Scottish Independence The event is set to be the largest in recent history. See thread for tweets from marchers.#AUOBEdinburgh #auob #indyref2@AUOBALBA @AUOBSCOT pic.twitter.com/LttC4FzR0C — ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) October 5, 2019

  • First minister Nicola Sturgeon comments on todays UK Supreme Court Decision that suspending parliament was unlawful: FULL SPEECH: First Minister @NicolaSturgeon comments on todays UK Supreme Court Decision that suspending parliament was unlawful: “We have witnessed some astonishing developments in the three years since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.” ..[Thread attached] — ScottishPoliticsNews (@ScoPoliticsNews) September 24, 2019