{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/stephen-hay-tax-rise-alone-won-t-cut-scottish-deficit-1-4404208","id":"1.4404208","articleHeadline": "Stephen Hay: Tax rise alone won’t cut Scottish deficit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490603613000 ,"articleLead": "

Whether or not there is a second independence referendum in Scotland and regardless of whether or not Scotland votes for independence, while we have devolved powers to the extent that we do, economically, Scotland has a major problem which needs to be solved sooner rather than later.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404207.1490615352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tackling Scotland's deficit will need more than tax rises alone, says Stephen Hay. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

In simple terms, Scotland currently has a fiscal deficit of £13 billion for 2016/17. That is the shortfall this year between our revenues less our expenditure.

While that figure is forecast to fluctuate over the next few years, Scotland’s deficit is forecast to remain at least around £11bn each year.

• READ MORE: Indyref2: independent Scotland would face £11bn deficit – economist

The question which needs to be answered, in the absence of significant North Sea oil revenue at any time soon, is how do we meet the deficit and move to a position of fiscal balance? Surely there can only be three options to consider seriously, which are tax increases, spending cuts or borrowing.

Indeed, a measure of all three is most likely to be the answer. But if we explore this further, to meet an £11bn deficit, how much more can we expect to raise in Scotland from income tax, for example? We could ask every taxpayer in Scotland to pay 1p more on the basic rate of income tax and raise £500m, or we could introduce more tax bands to help to decrease the deficit gap.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

If we asked everyone who earns more than £150,000 to pay an extra 5p at the higher rate, and also introduced a new 25 per cent rate to increase the 20 per cent rate for earnings between £20,000 and £45,000, we would only raise somewhere in the region of £1.4bn at most, perhaps somewhat less. And by doing that we are expecting everyone to pay more.

The rate band change would mean a rise of £650 each for everyone affected while highest earners would pay at least £2,500 each. As always, increased tax receipts will penalise someone. However, it is the amount of tax we can raise in Scotland that is the issue.

If it is accepted that this looks difficult to do and we still need another £10bn to meet the shortfall, then that has to come from a cut in services or by borrowing. The problem with borrowing is that we will find it difficult to repay on the estimated annual deficits that are forecast. That only leaves spending cuts, which is not sustainable.

We need to understand that no matter what, Scotland will not be able to meet the existing deficit by means of tax increases alone particularly in relation to income tax on earnings.

Regardless of the rich, the poor or the in‑between, the country simply has no way to meet the gap, not by taxation on earnings anyway.

Stephen Hay is head of tax in Scotland for RSM

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "STEPHEN HAY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404207.1490615352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404207.1490615352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tackling Scotland's deficit will need more than tax rises alone, says Stephen Hay. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tackling Scotland's deficit will need more than tax rises alone, says Stephen Hay. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404207.1490615352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/nicola-sturgeon-pm-has-no-rational-opposition-to-indyref2-1-4404807","id":"1.4404807","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: PM has no ‘rational opposition’ to indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490637142000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Prime Minister has no rational argument against a second independence referendum following discussions between the two leaders over the Brexit timetable.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404806.1490637205!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow. Picture: Russell Cheyne/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister wants to hold another vote on leaving the UK between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 - a timescale Theresa May is set to reject.

Mrs May has said a referendum during that period would be “unfair” to voters because they would not have all the necessary information to make a choice.

Following a meeting in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon insisted the Prime Minister had been clear the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU and the details of a new free trade deal would be known within two years.

“I think it makes it very difficult for the Prime Minister to maintain a rational opposition to a referendum in the timescale I have set out,” Ms Sturgeon said.

READ MORE: Theresa May insists her position on indyref2 will not change

“I think she has got a perfectly rational opposition to a referendum now, which is why I am not proposing it.

“But I think based on the discussion today I would struggle to see what her rational opposition to it would be in the timescale we have been talking about.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “She (Mrs May) is absolutely adamant that she believes the terms of Brexit, by which she means the exit terms, the divorce deal, and the detail of the comprehensive free trade agreement - in other words the future relationship between the UK and the EU - will be clear before the UK exits the EU.

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“When I put it to her that what she was suggesting was that in a period of 18 months to two years from now, the terms of the future relationship of the UK and the EU would be clear, she said yes that is what she was saying.”

The meeting came just a day before the Scottish Parliament is expected to pass a vote in favour of seeking another independence referendum, and two days before Mrs May is due to trigger Article 50.

Ms Sturgeon described the talks as “cordial” and “business-like”, although she said Mrs May had made no offer on powers to be devolved to Scotland as part of the Brexit process.

“I think it’s fair to say that there is still no real guarantee that powers repatriated to Brussels in areas that are currently devolved will not end up being centralised at Westminster, and there was no real willingness to talk about powers beyond that, for example powers over employment law or immigration.”

Asked about what would happen if her call for another referendum was formally rejected, Ms Sturgeon said: “I will set that out in due course. I actually have views in my mind around that.

“If their position remains as it is right now, I will set out to Parliament what I think the next steps should be.”

Ahead of the meeting, Mrs May told reporters her position will not change on Ms Sturgeon’s call for a referendum by spring 2019.

She would not be drawn on whether a vote could take place further into the future, restating her view that ‘’now is not the time’’ for another ballot.

The Prime Minister also vowed to build a ‘’more united nation’’ as Britain leaves the EU.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404806.1490637205!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404806.1490637205!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow. Picture: Russell Cheyne/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow. Picture: Russell Cheyne/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404806.1490637205!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/what-today-s-political-leaders-said-about-indyref-2014-1-4404800","id":"1.4404800","articleHeadline": "What today’s political leaders said about indyref 2014","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490634866000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has been criticised over her comments in 2014 that the independence referendum was ‘once in a generation’ vote.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "\n

With the First Minister now calling for a re-run to be held no later than the Spring of 2019, political opponents are wondering aloud whether a generation is a mere four or five years long.


However, despite Ms Sturgeon’s u-turn on that decision, it’s undeniable that enough political upheaval has happened in the two-and-a-half years since the first referendum than does in most generations.




READ MORE: Theresa May won’t change her mind on Indyref2




Indeed, the 2014 vote isn’t even the most recent constitutional referendum, with the 2016 Brexit vote shocking the political establishment.


The 52-48 per cent victory for Vote Leave in that referendum put paid (for now) to the political careers of David Cameron, George Osborne, and a whole host of their allies.


With the previous 2015 General Election also relegating the likes of Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to the parliamentary scrapheap, we now have a whole host of new political figures to be the figureheads of the fight for the Union.


We look back at what the new cast of No-vote backing characters had to say about Scottish independence in the last referendum.




Theresa May




Theresa May was nicknamed ‘the submarine’ by allies of David Cameron during the Brexit campaign.


The then Home Secretary was seen as disappearing beneath the waves every time Cameron asked her to stick her head above the parapet and publicly back the Remain vote.


It was perhaps this mode of operating that enabled her to emerge relatively unscathed from that bruising referendum and assume the mantle of Prime Minister for Brexit Britain.




READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn says Theresa May is ‘wrong’ to block Indyref2




No such qualms troubled Mrs May during the 2014 referendum campaign, as she became in many ways the face of what became known as ‘Project Fear’ – scaremongering to show in extreme terms what Scotland had to lose by leaving the Union.


Finding a UK-wide politician who embraced this in quite as lurid terms as Mrs May would be difficult, though perhaps it was because she was speaking as Home Secretary.


The Prime Minister told a 2013 Tory conference that independence would lead to mass, unchecked immigration.


In the same speech, Mrs May said that an independent Scotland would not only be a target, but a soft target, for terrorists.


Mrs May later unleashed the old classic, that Scotland would be subject to a ‘hard border’ with England, and there would be passport checks at Gretna.


It is perhaps an omen that bodes ill for future negotiations on Scotland that Mrs May’s heavy handed pessimism was poorly received.


The SNP believed it was exactly the type of lurid dire warning that turned people off voting No, while the pro-union writer Alex Massie described the intervention as a ‘grubby little warning’.




Jeremy Corbyn




For a while, the only vaguely left-wing or socialist show in town was the more radical elements of the Yes campaign.


But the Labour leader in 2015 took old-school left-wing politics more mainstream than any leader since the 1980s.


In 2013 and 2014, however, Corbyn was humoured and viewed with mild amusement by his fellow Labour MPs, not fear or hostility.


A relic of a set of largely London MPs who still regard New Labour with suspicion, and rebelled with impunity, Corbyn (and his ally and now shadow Chancellor John McDonnell) had little, if anything to say on the subject of Scottish independence.


Tracking down statements that Corbyn and McDonnell made at the height of the independence campaign is hard to do, but that’s not to say they were completely silent.


It could be that Corbyn was waiting to see an outcome that backed a Yes vote so he could opine that the outcome was a rejection of the same old political and economic system that he opposed.


In 2012, for example, Corbyn congratulated George Galloway for defeating a candidate from his own party in Bradford, saying Galloway’s win was a ‘big message on opposition to wars and austerity.’




Philip Hammond




As Chancellor, Philip Hammond’s job in any future referendum campaign will be to sell the economic benefits of staying in the United Kingdom.


He will hope, therefore, to have a smoother experience with the next referendum than he did with the first one.


In the Spring of 2014, he forced Downing Street into damage limitation mode when, in his role as Defence Secretary, he said nothing would be off the table when it came to negotiating with an independent Scotland.


Number 10 forced Hammond to clarify that he meant nothing was off the table except a currency union with the rest of the UK.


The Chancellor, currently recovering from a bruising u-turn on changes to National Insurance, was suspected by many pro-union colleagues of being the source of an explosive Guardian article which quoted an anonymous cabinet Minister saying a currency union for Trident deal could be put together after independence.


Like the now Prime Minister, Mr Hammond wasn’t shy about putting the cost of independence in stark terms, claiming tens of thousands of job losses would damage Scotland, and even launching a paper which suggested ‘loyal’ MoD staff in Scotland wouldn’t work for a fledgling Scottish Defence Force.




Boris Johnson




A man whose naked ambition is as instantly recognisable as his hair, Boris Johnson has been on a rollercoaster ride of political fortune since the 2014 referendum.


Then the Mayor of London, an executive role with arguably more power and influence than even Scotland’s First Minister, ‘BoJo’ is now Foreign Secretary.


That move came after he stunned many by backing Brexit in 2016, seen by David Cameron allies as a cynical (and likely successful) ploy to gain his coveted position as Tory leader.


Before he could ascend to the throne vacated by the aforementioned Cameron, he was, to use tabloid political parlance, knifed by his erstwhile Brexit colleague Michael Gove.


Never one to avoid controversy, or speak whatever thoughts, however off-topic, pop into his head, Mr Johnson had plenty to say on the subject of an independent Scotland.


He tackled the complicated issue of Scotland’s constitutional future with the same approach he has utilised in all his jobs to date.


While undoubtedly passionate, some of these interventions lacked tact, to put it mildly.


In a piece in the Sun, the then-Mayor started a short plea to Scotland to vote no with the opening line “Scots Ahoy”.


He then listed a number of things that apparently made Scotland great, a list that was as clichd as it was likely to fall on deaf ears.


Did Mr Johnson think Scots wanted to hear about how much English people loved porridge and Irn-Bru?


As Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson will be forced to articulate some of the ways in which remaining in the UK boosts Scotland on the world stage.


He will have to do so with a bit more finesse than he has managed so far...



\n" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4383520.1489580087!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4383520.1489580087!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond . Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond . Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4383520.1489580087!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/theresa-may-insists-her-position-on-indyref2-will-not-change-1-4404545","id":"1.4404545","articleHeadline": "Theresa May insists her position on indyref2 will not change","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490625305000 ,"articleLead": "

The Prime Minister has said her position will not change on Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second independence referendum by spring 2019.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404544.1490619334!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May visited the East Kilbride base of the UK's Department for International Development to set out her "Plan For Britain"."} ,"articleBody": "

Theresa May would not be drawn on whether a vote could take place further into the future, restating her view that “now is not the time” for another ballot.

The First Minister wants the powers to hold a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, when she says the UK’s Brexit deal will become clear.

Speaking during a visit to Glasgow, and ahead of talks with Ms Sturgeon, Mrs May said a vote during that time frame would be “unfair” to the Scottish people.

“My position is very simple and it hasn’t changed,” she said.

READ MORE: Shetland oil find ‘could be biggest of the century’

“It is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum and that’s for a couple of reasons.

“First of all, now is the point when we are triggering Article 50, we’re starting negotiations for leaving the European Union. Now is the time when we should be pulling together, not hanging apart. Pulling together to make sure we get the best possible deal for the whole of the UK.

“Also I think it would be unfair on the people of Scotland to ask them to make a significant decision until all the facts were known, at a point where nobody knows what the situation is going to be.

READ MORE: Indyref2: SNP ‘must be realistic’ on economy to win vote, says former Yes chief

“My position isn’t going to change, which is that now is not the time to be talking about a second independence referendum.”

The Prime Minister’s visit to Scotland comes a day before the Scottish Parliament is expected to pass a vote in favour of seeking another independence referendum, and two days before she triggers the Brexit process.

It follows a series of talks between UK ministers and those from the devolved nations over the UK’s approach to leaving the EU.

Scottish ministers say there has been no clarity over how Scotland’s interests will be represented as the Brexit process gets under way, and the role the Scottish Government will play in negotiations.

Speaking during her visit to Scotland, Mrs May also pledged Brexit would not mean the UK “stepping back from the world”, insisting she was aiming to build “a new partnership with Europe” while taking the opportunity to build “a more global Britain”.

The Prime Minister’s comments came ahead of her first meeting with Nicola Sturgeon since the First Minister announced plans for a second independence referendum triggered by the change to Scotland’s circumstances resulting from Brexit.

Addressing staff of the Department for International Development in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, Mrs May said: “We stand on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain as we begin the negotiations that will lead us towards a new partnership with Europe.

“I want to make it absolutely clear as we move through this process that this is not - in any sense - the moment that Britain steps back from the world.

“Indeed, we are going to take this opportunity to forge a more global Britain.

“The closest friend and ally with Europe, but also a country that looks beyond Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.”

Promising to build “a more united nation”, Mrs May said: “As Britain leaves the European Union, and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our Union will become even more important.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LYNSEY BEWS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404544.1490619334!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404544.1490619334!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May visited the East Kilbride base of the UK's Department for International Development to set out her "Plan For Britain".","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May visited the East Kilbride base of the UK's Department for International Development to set out her "Plan For Britain".","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404544.1490619334!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1490625121100"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/what-we-can-expect-when-theresa-may-meets-nicola-sturgeon-1-4404601","id":"1.4404601","articleHeadline": "What we can expect when Theresa May meets Nicola Sturgeon","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490621073000 ,"articleLead": "

The Prime Minister Theresa May is in Scotland, a visit billed as a unity tour ahead of her backing of move to Trigger Article 50 and start the Brexit process.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4390847.1490621067!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister meets Prime Minister Theresa May at Bute House. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Mrs May is visiting some UK-wide agencies to subtly highlight the benefit of the Union, stopping off at the Department for International Development’s office in East Kilbride before checking in with counter-terrorism police in Scotland.

As the Scotland on Sunday reported yesterday, the Prime Minister is set to boast that her Brexit deal would be so good that desire for independence in Scotland would be curtailed.

In just two days, Mrs May will inform the Council of Europe that the UK is going to leave the European Union, which starts a 24-month clock for the Conservative Government to thrash out a deal.

Nicola Sturgeon will make her own piece of constitutional history in advance of that as a vote on a new independence referendum – rearranged in the wake of the killings in London – will take place tomorrow.

With the two most powerful women in British politics set to meet, we look ahead as to what the outcome and aftermath of that sit-down could look like.

The Optics

The Prime Minister is a fan of austere settings – perhaps to match the economic policy of her Government, and one assumes that the Bute House backing will not be too much of a change.

Mrs May’s speech on how Britain will be ‘more’ united as a result of the Brexit deal she is negotiating took place with a simple lectern set-up.

She urged Scotland to play its part in the ‘great national challenge’ to make Britain a fairer place as a result of Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon isn’t a fan of manipulating the optics as her predecessor was – Alex Salmond infamously had a map of the SNP’s election gains as he signed the Edinburgh agreement with David Cameron.

Ms Sturgeon will also be keen to avoid anything that looks like she and the Prime Minister are working too close together – so expect joint photo opportunities to be kept to a bare minimum.

The meeting

Most politicians speak largely in lofty platitudes, especially when dealing with the constitution, but it is expected that behind closed doors talks are much more practical.

There’s still an ocean of difference between the two women on politics, not least when it comes to a second referendum on independence.

Mrs May flexed her reserved-power muscles by announcing that she would block any move by Ms Sturgeon to have the powers to hold a new vote on separation before the terms of Brexit are agreed.

READ MORE: May says Brexit deal will be ‘so good you won’t need Indyref2’

Those terms remain increasingly unclear, with an appearance at a select committee by Tory Brexit Minister David Davis featuring a number of gasp-inducing revelations on the lack of research undertaken on what that deal with the other 27 nations of the EU should look like.

Nicola Sturgeon may press Theresa May for some kind of reassurance that behind the scenes the UK Government has more of a plan than Davis hinted at so far.

Briefing in advance has suggested that Mrs May will tell Ms Sturgeon that Scotland’s Government needs to ‘get on board’ more with Brexit, which Mrs May has been keen to paint as a golden opportunity, rather than the economic and social disaster many predict.

The Reasoning

In truth, however these meetings are rarely great meetings of minds, where deals are thrashed out and substantive policy is discussed.

Theresa May will want it to be noted that she came to Scotland in advance of both the vote to demand another referendum, and the announcement that Article 50 will be triggered.

READ MORE: Theresa May won’t discuss timing

The Scottish Government has raised serious concerns that they have been sidelined during the Brexit talks, most notably having to find out about the Article 50 date from BBC News.

Mrs May’s visit, symbolic though it may be, can be used by Conservative politicians to bat away the charge that the UK Government has treated Scotland’s other Government with disrespect.

Bigger fish to fry?

Mrs May has made it clear that she wants all four nations of the United Kingdom to come together to take on the national change that she claims Brexit is.

It is the type of statement we’ve come to expect from a Prime Minister who wanted to stay in the EU, but deliberately cast herself before, during, and after the 2016 referendum as a ‘reluctant’ remain voter.

But for all her lofty words about the more United Kingdom which she cast as an unstoppable force, Britain is arguably more divided than ever.

The second that the Prime Minister steps out of her meeting with Nicola Sturgeon, she walks almost literally from one potential constitutional crisis to another.

By 4pm today, it is expected that the failure of power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland will be officially announced.

That leaves Mrs May with the unenviable choice of calling another election for seats in the assembly, or initiating direct rule from London, the nuclear option in any attempt to put together a devolved administration at Stormont.

The Aftermath

The SNP has not exactly been subtle about using the visits of Conservative politicians as a recruiting tool.

Peter Murrell, the party’s Chief Executive and the husband of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, happily posted a picture of the SNP’s membership card machine ready to deal with an upsurge in Scots joining.

Nicola Sturgeon undoubtedly cast this visit from Theresa May as a meaningless nothing, and claim that her demands in the meeting fell on deaf ears.

No matter what happens, it is unlikely that the visit will halt the move for another referendum, or move much opinion either way in the independence debate.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks forcefully and articulately on her desire to keep the Union intact – she may soon find out it will take more than words to keep it together.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4390847.1490621067!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4390847.1490621067!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister meets Prime Minister Theresa May at Bute House. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister meets Prime Minister Theresa May at Bute House. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4390847.1490621067!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4390747.1490621068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4390747.1490621068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon announcing a referendum - MSPs will clash again tomorrow on the plans","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon announcing a referendum - MSPs will clash again tomorrow on the plans","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4390747.1490621068!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/theresa-may-pledges-to-strengthen-union-as-brexit-looms-1-4404073","id":"1.4404073","articleHeadline": "Theresa May pledges to ‘strengthen Union’ as Brexit looms","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490607927000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May will give a speech vowing never to allow the UK to become “looser and weaker” ahead of meeting Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister is heading north of the border a day before the Scottish Parliament is expected to pass a vote in favour of seeking a new Scottish independence referendum and two days before she triggers the UK’s divorce process from the European Union.

She will not discuss the timing of a second independence referendum, intending instead to use a visit to the East Kilbride base of the UK’s Department for International Development to set out her aim of building a global Britain with a strong union as a major player on the world stage.

She is expected to tell staff that their work helping crisis hit areas around the world “says that we are a big country that will never let down, or turn our back on, those in need”.

She will say: “And that is important to remember.

“For we stand on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain as we begin the negotiations that will lead us towards a new partnership with Europe.

“And I want to make it absolutely clear as we move through this process that this is not, in any sense, the moment that Britain steps back from the world.

“Indeed, we are going to take this opportunity to forge a more global Britain.

“The closest friend and ally with Europe, but also a country that looks beyond Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.”

She will add: “UK Aid is a badge of hope for so many around the world.

“It appears on the side of buildings, school books, medical supplies and food parcels in some of the toughest environments and most hard-to-reach countries on the planet.

“And it says this: that when this great union of nations, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, sets its mind on something and works together with determination, we are an unstoppable force.

“That is why the Plan for Britain I have set out, a plan to get the right deal for Britain abroad as well as a better deal for ordinary, working people at home, has as its heart one over-arching goal: to build a more united nation.

“Because I believe when we work together, there is no limit to what we can do.

“A more united nation means working actively to bring people and communities together by promoting policies which support integration and social cohesion.

“In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that means fully respecting, and indeed strengthening, the devolution settlements. But never allowing our Union to become looser and weaker, or our people to drift apart.

“So in those policy areas where the UK Government holds responsibility, I am determined that we will put the interests of the union, both the parts and the whole, at the heart of our decision-making.”

The Prime Minister will later have a bilateral meeting with the First Minister.

Following the Westminster terror attack Mrs May will also meet Police Scotland officers to discuss counter-terrorism issues.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404072.1490634860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/indyref2-not-on-the-agenda-as-theresa-may-arrives-in-scotland-1-4404045","id":"1.4404045","articleHeadline": "Indyref2 not on the agenda as Theresa May arrives in Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490599445000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May will not discuss the timing of a second independence referendum when she meets Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to Scotland today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404044.1490599441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May will focus on plans to start the formal Brexit process. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister will instead reject any constitutional changes that weaken the Union, and hold up the UK’s humanitarian work around the world as an example of the good that can only be achieved together.

The UK government has rejected Ms Sturgeon’s call for second independence referendum by spring 2019, before the UK leaves the EU, with Mrs May saying “now is not the time”.

Sources said talks between the two leaders would focus on plans to start the formal Brexit process on Wednesday, and that the Prime Minister would not discuss when a referendum might be permitted.

Mrs May will send a letter to EU leaders this week formally notifying them of the UK’s intention to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and quit the bloc following a two-year negotiation.

The Prime Minister’s visit will see her deliver a speech to staff at the Department for International Development’s base in East Kilbride, highlighting the work of UK civil servants based in Scotland.

She will also meet with senior officers from Police Scotland to discuss its counter-terrorism work.

The UK’s aid programme, which has a budget fixed by law at a UN target level of 0.7 per cent of GDP, “says something important about Britain,” the Prime Minister is expected to say.

“It says that we are a kind and generous country. It says that we are a big country that will never let down – or turn our back on – those in need. And it says that we are a country that does – and will always – meet our commitments to the world – and particularly to those who so desperately need our support.”

Making the link with Brexit, she will say: “I want to make it absolutely clear as we move through this process that this is not – in any sense – the moment that Britain steps back from the world.”

Mrs May will restate her commitment to building a “more united nation” as the UK leaves the EU amid growing disagreement about how powers returning from Brussels will be divided between Westminster and the devolved administrations.

“In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that means fully respecting, and indeed strengthening, the devolution settlements. But never allowing our Union to become looser and weaker, or our people to drift apart.”

The Prime Minister added: “So in those policy areas where the UK government holds responsibility, I am determined that we will put the interests of the Union – both the parts and the whole – at the heart of our decision-making.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404044.1490599441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404044.1490599441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May will focus on plans to start the formal Brexit process. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May will focus on plans to start the formal Brexit process. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404044.1490599441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1489416558109"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/indyref2-snp-must-be-realistic-on-economy-to-win-vote-1-4404079","id":"1.4404079","articleHeadline": "Indyref2: SNP ‘must be realistic’ on economy to win vote","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490595714000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP must be “realistic” about the economic case for independence if it hopes to win the next referendum, the former chief executive of the Yes campaign has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404078.1490595709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Yes campaign chief executive Blair Jenkins. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Blair Jenkins, who led the grassroots drive for Scottish independence ahead of 2014’s vote, said the economic arguments for leaving the UK would have to be “strengthened considerably” this time.

Writing in the i newspaper, Mr Jenkins said Alex Salmond had made the major economic changes facing an independent Scotland sound “a bit too easy” ahead of the last referendum.

Confusion over what currency an independent Scotland would use was cited as a major reason why Scots failed to back independence in 2014.

Mr Jenkins argued that success for the pro-independence side “looks likely” this time around – but highlighted the economy as an area which could prove crucial to victory.

“One key part of the Yes case does have to be strengthened considerably,” he wrote. “For many voters, the economic case that was presented for Scottish independence made it all sound a bit too easy.

“This time, as Nicola Sturgeon has signalled, there has to be more of an acknowledgement of the challenges and choices that we will face if we vote Yes.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS GREEN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4404078.1490595709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4404078.1490595709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Yes campaign chief executive Blair Jenkins. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Yes campaign chief executive Blair Jenkins. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4404078.1490595709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/kirsty-gunn-a-good-deal-more-worthy-than-pandering-to-politics-1-4403051","id":"1.4403051","articleHeadline": "Kirsty Gunn: A good deal more worthy than pandering to politics","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490569033000 ,"articleLead": "

Maybe it’s the time of year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403050.1490569027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon outlines her plans to trigger article 30 requesting a new independence referendum earlier this month"} ,"articleBody": "

All of us waiting for Spring, and while Spring’s sort of here – having passed the equinox, and so there are the longer evenings, and now there are daffodils – it also sort of isn’t. It’s been a cold week, with newborn calves drenched in sleety rain up in Sutherland, and a biting wind down in Dundee with near-snow one night, and the gloom and doom of Scottish politics all around making us feel even more… what? Well, fed-up, I think is the best way of describing it.

I spent the other night talking politics right up to just before I turned the light off, and woke up the next morning talking politics again before breakfast. What has happened to me? I am not even interested in politics! Politics bores me rigid! The argy-bargy back and forth-ness of it, the whole procedure of one petty bit of point-scoring after the next and with no thought whatsoever to the big picture: Who are we? What do we want? What sort of nation do we want to be? Are we a country that only threeps on about independence at every drop of a hat? Regretting this, regretting that.

Or one that gathers up an impressive intellectual and cultural past and uses it now to get past politics somehow, the small-mindedness of it, to paint a wider, lighter picture of our future that is intelligent and sophisticated and cultured and international? Goodness me, I want the Spring to show itself to all of us right now.

For the fact is, a lot of clever people are wanting to leave Scotland. Sara Hunt with her fabulous Saraband Press, with a Booker shortlist on her books this year, and one on the long list. She’s left Glasgow and gone South. She’s not alone. Loads of people I’ve been talking with – in the arts, in the academy, in law and the profession…they’re all saying: If we go independent, I’m moving to England. If there’s another referendum, I’m out. One of our most distinguished Scottish historians said the same to me the other night. And here’s the phrase again, the one I am hearing a lot of, that I am hearing myself say: “I’m fed-up.”

I’m fed-up with the very word “referendum”, fed-up with the constant belittling of our nation by seeing it over and over being represented in terms of England’s position and power. I’m fed-up by being fed the same rhetoric round and around and around: that if only we were this or we were that, could have this or have that, we would be better, life would be better.

Haven’t we leaned by now that capitalism has had its way? That it makes no difference what ideology we pick up, because the sums say different and the market rules, ok? We’re all of us, in the West, boxed into a corner of our own making. There’s a president across the water, after all, who reminds us of the fact: that democracy is now a dangerous tool that can be wielded by the super-rich to gain exactly the results that the super-rich want to gain.

So give up on political ideology. Thinking one party is going to achieve the result that will get a result. Why not instead learn to celebrate the nation that we occupy now in the terms of its impressive past? I for one don’t want to define myself as a citizen of a country that sees itself – until it gets its little indyref2 – as being inferior. Feeling inferior is for losers.

Yes, I know a lot of writers and artists, not to mention journalists, find the current climate exciting – with its bracing and changeable weather that’s full of potential for front page news. Independence is like a brand new creative project – it’s the blank sheet of paper waiting to written on – and now we get to “plan for the country we want”, as one of my writer friends put it to me recently.

But the reality is that the planning will be in the hands of the politicians, not the artists or intellectuals. And the simplistic binary nature of the discussion that has been fostered in the centres of power will continue to inform the debate, marginalising all the rest of us who feel more complicated around the issue of who we are and who we want to be. Binary thinking works, of course – to present an argument as “all this”, or “all that”. Look at the way the rhetoric has been so successfully constructed around the idea of independence being equated with a pro-European stance that everyone who voted remain in London now wants to move to Scotland.

The SNP have done a marvellous job, all right, of leveraging Scotland’s Remain vote with ideas of separatism. As though we here north of the Border occupy some high and more decent ground than our anxious racist neighbours in the South. As though we are, what? – the underlying message of the same rhetoric goes – better?

It’s nasty stuff, all of it. And what of the artists who don’t want to be part of writing that brand new story that is the new Scotland anyway? Those of us who are people but not “the people”? The award-winning international writer Cynthia Rogerson who is from California, but lives here in Scotland, is one of those kinds of writers. For years she ran the Moniack Mhor Writers Centre in Inverness-shire and now pops down to Dundee to give readings and classes, and has a brand-new novel out that’s set in California.

Wait For Me Jack is one of those one-of-a-kind kinds of fictions – quirky, brave, inventive – that tells the story of a marriage, two people, nothing more fancy than that – yet within that modest ambition explores the very depths and nature of commitment and love. The novel has a fascinating and engaging form that runs backwards in time and seems to knit up into a future tense the further back in time the story goes. It’s a brave book, this, now, in its subject, and in its setting, California. And it’s a brave move for its publishers, the Dingwall-based Sandstone Press, to take it on.

Where will the likes of Cynthia Rogerson and her wonderful novel be when “Indyref2” comes around, I wonder? And where will Sandstone Press be, with their international roster of writers who don’t necessarily want to write about ‘Scot-land’ but want to write really good books?

If Spring doesn’t come soon it will be a case of “Wait for me, Jack” all right. Because a whole lot of us are thinking: for goodness sake don’t leave me behind here. I want to be where the conversation is, not where the politics are.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403050.1490569027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403050.1490569027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon outlines her plans to trigger article 30 requesting a new independence referendum earlier this month","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon outlines her plans to trigger article 30 requesting a new independence referendum earlier this month","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403050.1490569027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-monteith-snp-government-is-turning-on-its-own-figures-1-4403947","id":"1.4403947","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: SNP government is turning on its own figures","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490590800000 ,"articleLead": "

If you thought you have been saved from an independence referendum campaign think again. The campaign to win a future independence referendum has already started and we can expect an incessant assault for the next two or three years, irrespective of the legal formalities. As ever, truth is the first casualty.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403946.1490547547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in Holyrood on the day he delivered his statement regarding business rates/income tax."} ,"articleBody": "

On Tuesday the Scottish Parliament will decide if it should seek the legal permission it requires to hold a second referendum on independence at the SNP’s preferred timing of between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

Although the SNP minority government is expected to win, thanks to the support of the Greens, we know already it will not lead to a referendum before the UK leaves the EU, because the Prime Minister has said the timing is wrong and there is no clear demonstration that the Scottish people want it. Indeed all the available evidence is that the collective mood is against it.

You might think the SNP Government must therefore return to its day job, and to some extent it must face the many crises of its own making that surround it, but that is to ignore its very real problem. The SNP behaves like a drug addict: it is hooked on campaigning for independence. It experienced its greatest high in the run-up to the referendum of 2014, but then the supply was suddenly cut off and it has been scrambling to get its regular fix ever since.

The rush of new members and the election results of 2015 and 2016 provided further highs but the law of diminishing returns is hurting and finding the next fix gets harder and harder – yet it can hardly eat, drink, think or talk of anything else than independence.

I have no doubt it does have politicians that try to think of the real problems confronting it now, and there must be ministers that want to do a good job, but independence is what drives its agenda and it is consuming the party in government in the process.

We can already see this in the latest skirmish around the economic case for independence, something that is widely acknowledged amongst many nationalists as beyond resuscitation. The reason for this is simple: from the SNP Government’s own figures were Scotland to be independent it would have the poorest public finances in the developed world, far worse than Greece and the worst in the OECD.

If Scotland had voted for independence in September 2014 and Alex Salmond had met his breathless timetable of breaking from the UK by March 2016 the country would have been bust. It would have required to be saved by an IMF loan for which the price would be public sector austerity delivering mass unemployment and large civil unrest. Instead we ducked the bullet and consequently have high employment and a growing economy.

Rather than confront the reasons why Scotland would be in such a dire state of affairs – namely that the Holyrood Government does more than it can afford, does it expensively and often for free, all while it earns too little and discourages those who could and would earn it more – the SNP is now turning towards rubbishing the only available economic statistics that reveal the truth.

Last week a number of senior SNP politicians sought in articles and on social media to rubbish the information provided by GERS, the annual publication of Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland. What is astonishing about this behaviour is that GERS is published by the SNP Government; it is an official publication overseen by impartial public servants in Scotland using statistics validated as conforming to recognised standards by international institutions. Indeed its past reports provided the basis for independence itself and formed the foundation for the SNP Government’s White Paper of November 2013.

Unfortunately the economic figures that looked attractive to Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon back then now suggest a Scottish deficit of £14.9 billion per year. With the SNP’s property taxes already falling short of projections that deficit is expected to get worse.

That starting point for independence – of finding £14.9bn or £2,800 for every person in Scotland is before any requirement for capital reserves of at least £40bn to support a separate Scottish currency or reserves to cover contingent liabilities such as increased EU membership fees, or future public sector debt servicing if Scotland is given the “junk” rating that was also reported last week.

Will the SNP Government defend its own officials or will it, without a second’s thought, sacrifice their reputations to help sow confusion in the public mind where there was once sufficient reliability and agreement to have a worthwhile debate?

So hooked have many in the nationalist movement become that they will not confront the economic cost to Scotland and its people when they have to go cold turkey. The campaigning would be over; Scotland would stand naked before the world – and with no one else to blame. This all comes with a word of caution to unionists. The UK government also lives beyond its means and has done so since 2003, when Gordon Brown put us on a trajectory towards continuing deficits and growing national debt. While the following coalition government managed to arrest this process by cutting the deficit successfully we are not expected to return to surplus until 2022. Scotland will still be in deficit at that time but with the right balance of economic policies that deliver savings in public expenditure and gains in tax revenues the day should come when it will be in surplus again.

As a unionist I want a prosperous Scotland, a Scotland in surplus – which means a Scotland contributing again to the UK pot rather than receiving from it. That is what solidarity and sharing of risk and opportunity means and I fully embrace the sharing principle. It is what being British must mean and requires. A Scotland that can help the rest of the UK in time of danger or need – just as the rest of the UK would help Scotland.

Relying upon Scotland’s current deficit to fight off independence is inherently a temporary and weak argument. What is required is an emotional and positive case to building and sharing in a better country – called Britain – and we should not wait for a referendum before presenting it.

l Brian Monteith is editor of ThinkScotland.org

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403946.1490547547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403946.1490547547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in Holyrood on the day he delivered his statement regarding business rates/income tax.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in Holyrood on the day he delivered his statement regarding business rates/income tax.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403946.1490547547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/indyref2-bid-could-push-down-child-mental-health-plans-1-4403792","id":"1.4403792","articleHeadline": "Indyref2 bid ‘could push down child mental health plans’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490530690000 ,"articleLead": "

Mental health services for children and young people could be pushed further down the Scottish Government’s priority list by plans for a second independence referendum, Labour has warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403791.1490530685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon made the claim. Picture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

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Inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon said it was “heart-wrenching” that almost 17,000 youngsters in the last three years had had applications for specialist help turned down.

The Scottish Government has already said its new mental health strategy - which will be launched within days - will include an audit of rejected referrals to children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

But Labour is calling for a full independent review into the issue.

It also wants every secondary school pupil in Scotland to have a legal right to access help from a fully qualified counsellor, claiming this already exists in England and Wales.

Ms Lennon said: “There is real concern that the SNP’s pursuit of another referendum on Scotland leaving the UK will push child and adolescent mental health services even further down the Government’s priority list.

“Most people want politicians to get on with our day jobs and it is clear when it comes to education and mental health, there is a lot of work to do.”

NHS figures show about one in five CAMHS referrals were rejected in 2015, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promising this issue will be addressed in the mental health strategy - saying that one its early actions “will be to commission an audit of rejected referrals”

But Ms Lennon said: “The First Minister stopped short of announcing a full independent review of the rejected referrals scandal that we have called for since last year and as supported by Barnardo’s Scotland. I hope the ministerial statement on Thursday will provide further assurances.”

The Labour MSP wrote to both Health Secretary Shona Robison and Education Secretary John Swinney, telling them: “Our young people deserve the support that they need, when they need it. We know that early intervention is the key. In half of all adults with mental health issues their problems begin before they reach the age of 14.

“At a time when young people should be focused on their studies and when they need all the support they can get to concentrate on their education, they are waiting months to get help with mental health problems. If we are ever to close Scotland’s shameful attainment gap then tackling the mental health crisis has to be addressed.”

Responding, Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “We know the crucial role that mental health plays and I am proud to be the first dedicated Minister for Mental Health.

“We are investing an additional £150 million to boost support for areas which are absolute priorities for us, and which will help deliver improvements in mental health services.

“Scotland was the first country in the UK to have a mental health waiting times target - a sign of how importantly we view this issue.

“While progress has been made in improving access to psychological therapies and CAMHS services there is still a need to ensure this has been achieved in every service in Scotland.

“We have already put in place a £54 million comprehensive package of support to improve access to mental health services - for children and adults - which will provide funding for additional staff, for workforce development and for in-depth improvement support to local services.”


READ MORE - May touts Brexit deal ‘so good you won’t need Indyref2’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KATRINE BUSSEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403791.1490530685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403791.1490530685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon made the claim. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon made the claim. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403791.1490530685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/theresa-may-would-be-wrong-to-block-indyref2-labour-1-4403786","id":"1.4403786","articleHeadline": "Theresa May would be ‘wrong’ to block Indyref2 - Labour","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490529377000 ,"articleLead": "

Jeremy Corbyn does not believe Westminster should block a second independence referendum if the Scottish Parliament calls for one.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403785.1490532329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the ITV programme Peston On Sunday. Picture: AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

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Plans for another vote on Scottish independence were recently announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said she expected it to take place by the spring of 2019 at the latest.

Prime Minister Theresa May has since moved to block the SNP’s bid, stating “now is not the time” for ‘Indyref2’, an action Corbyn has disagreed with.

Speaking to ITV’s Peston On Sunday programme, the Labour leader insisted that he remained against the idea of another vote on Scottish independence, but doesn’t believe it should be blocked.

He said: “If that is what the Scottish Parliament wants then I think that it would be wrong for Westminster to say to Scotland ‘well we gave you this devolution but sorry, this is where it stops’.”

When asked if that meant he would back another referendum on independence, he said: “The principle of having it, yes, of course. One has to discuss the questions of timing and the date of it.”

READ MORE - May touts Brexit deal ‘so good you won’t need Indyref2’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FOWLER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403785.1490532329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403785.1490532329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the ITV programme Peston On Sunday. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the ITV programme Peston On Sunday. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403785.1490532329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nine-out-of-ten-smaller-businesses-don-t-want-indyref2-1-4403721","id":"1.4403721","articleHeadline": "Nine out of ten smaller businesses ‘don’t want indyref2’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490515990000 ,"articleLead": "

Almost nine out of ten small and medium-sized businesses do not want a second independence referendum, according to a survey conducted by a Scottish-based accountancy firm, French Duncan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403720.1490515985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fraser: Holyrood ignored. Picture: Andrew Cowan"} ,"articleBody": "

French Duncan sought the views of small and medium businesses after Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to call for a second referendum.

Within 24 hours the accountancy firm had received 800 responses. French Duncan acknowledged that their survey was not a scientific study, but it found that 88 per cent of those who responded did not want another independence poll.

In addition, 86 per cent opposed the idea of independence and 89 per cent felt the financial case for breaking up the UK had weakened.

Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart said: “This survey sends a crystal-clear message to the SNP that Scotland does not want another independence referendum. Businesses across 
the country believe that independence would have a significantly negative impact on our economy. Even just the threat of a second independence referendum is hindering investment in Scotland. It would be completely wrong for this SNP government to ignore these widely held concerns.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “French Duncan themselves do not 
profess that the output of this survey is accurate nor even reflective of the whole of the Scottish business community. What is clear, however, is that by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s economy is a hard Brexit, which threatens to cost our economy around £11 billion a year by 2030, and cost the country 80,000 jobs over a decade.

“By giving people an alternative to a hard Brexit, the people of Scotland can choose to make their own decisions and to build on our strong economy.”

The survey was published as MSPs prepare for the final day of debating a second referendum this Tuesday in Holyrood.

Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser will accuse the Scottish Government of double standards when he closes the debate for his party.

With the vote expected to go in favour of a second poll, the SNP claims Theresa May is guilty of a “democratic outrage” by blocking the vote. Fraser will claim Scottish ministers have ignored Holyrood votes which have gone against them.

“How can it be a democratic outrage for Westminster not to respond to votes in the Scottish Parliament when the Scottish Government treat them with contempt,” Fraser will say.

A SNP spokesman said: “The people of Scotland elected a majority of MSPs with the option of supporting another referendum if there was a vote for Brexit that Scotland did not support – a bigger proportion than the MPs elected in 2015 who supported the EU referendum that has brought about this situation.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403720.1490515985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403720.1490515985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fraser: Holyrood ignored. Picture: Andrew Cowan","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fraser: Holyrood ignored. Picture: Andrew Cowan","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403720.1490515985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-and-labour-start-firing-in-the-battle-for-glasgow-1-4403719","id":"1.4403719","articleHeadline": "SNP and Labour start firing in the battle for Glasgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490515987000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour and the SNP have launched their Glasgow campaigns for the council elections as they vie to gain control of the historic Labour stronghold.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403718.1490515982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sturgeon and Aitken with their Glasgow candidates. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined Glasgow SNP group leader Susan Aitken to launch their manifesto and pledged to create a “true city government” and accused Labour of “letting down” Glaswegians.

Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson teamed up with Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety to accuse the SNP of cutting £377 million from Glasgow’s budget in the past decade and putting an “obsession” with a new independence referendum before all else.

Watson said Labour could win “every election” with the right team and campaign in place.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403718.1490515982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403718.1490515982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sturgeon and Aitken with their Glasgow candidates. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sturgeon and Aitken with their Glasgow candidates. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403718.1490515982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-theresa-may-s-chance-to-avert-indyref2-1-4403715","id":"1.4403715","articleHeadline": "Leader: Theresa May’s chance to avert indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490515124000 ,"articleLead": "

We reserve judgment on the content until we hear what she has to say, but the indications are that Theresa May’s message tomorrow will be that she can deliver a Brexit settlement which works for Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403714.1490515119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May will look to keep the independence "wolf" from her door. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

If she can indeed, this would go some way towards keeping the referendum wolf from her door, but it is hard to see how she can convince on this matter anytime soon, when she is determined not to show her hand.

We should remember that an independence referendum is not unavoidable. In fact, an acceptable Brexit settlement may just get Nicola Sturgeon out of a hole as well.

But it’s up to May to demonstrate she means what she says, and can deliver.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403714.1490515119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403714.1490515119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May will look to keep the independence "wolf" from her door. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May will look to keep the independence "wolf" from her door. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403714.1490515119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/belarus-protesters-clash-with-police-over-parasites-tax-1-4403707","id":"1.4403707","articleHeadline": "Belarus protesters clash with police over ‘parasites tax’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490512674000 ,"articleLead": "

Hundreds of Belarusians defied a protest ban to march against a so-called parasites tax on the long-term unemployed in the latest anti-government demonstration in an eastern European country.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403706.1490512668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A woman confronts police officers blocking a street during an opposition rally in Minsk. Photograph: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Police yesterday began arresting protesters after blocking the march using a cordon of riot police wielding clubs and holding shields.

Belarus has seen a wave of protests over the past two months against President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled since 1994.

“They’re beating the participants, dragging women by the hair to buses. I was able to run to a nearby courtyard,” demonstrator Alexander Ponomarev said. The march took place on the 99th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic, which lasted just six months when it was formed in 1918.

Earlier, police raided the office of the human rights group Vesna. About 30 of its activists were detained, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee said.

In the days leading up to the demonstration, more than 100 opposition supporters were sentenced to jail terms of three to 15 days, Vesna reported before the raid.

Prominent opposition figure Vladimir Neklayev was reportedly pulled off a train by police during the night as he tried to travel to Minsk.

In Romania last month hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets for days in protest at a bill decriminalising official misconduct.

Yesterday’s demonstrators in Belarus shouted “shame” and “basta [enough]” and deployed the opposition’s red and white flag, first used by the independent Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918 and again after independence from the Soviet Union.

In his 23 years as president, Lukashenko has stifled dissent and free media and retained much of the Soviet-style command economy.

The protests this year initially focused on his unpopular “anti-parasite” law that calls for a £185 tax on anyone who works less than six months a year, but does not register with the state labour exchange.

But the protests broadened into general dissatisfaction with his rule, which some critics have characterised as Europe’s last dictatorship.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403706.1490512668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403706.1490512668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A woman confronts police officers blocking a street during an opposition rally in Minsk. Photograph: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A woman confronts police officers blocking a street during an opposition rally in Minsk. Photograph: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403706.1490512668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/may-touts-brexit-deal-so-good-you-won-t-need-indyref2-1-4403605","id":"1.4403605","articleHeadline": "May touts Brexit deal ‘so good you won’t need Indyref2’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490484606000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May will head north of the border this week and attempt to defuse the SNP’s plan for a second referendum by focusing on a Brexit deal that delivers for Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403604.1490474002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May hopes her arrival in Scotland to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will enable her to promote shared objectives. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

With Nicola Sturgeon warning of hard Brexit, the Prime Minister will attempt to find common ground with the Scottish Government on access to the single market and protecting the rights of EU nationals.

May will also announce new temporary powers for the Scottish Parliament designed to ensure a smooth transition as the UK extricates itself from EU law.

On Wednesday the Prime Minister will trigger the Article 50 Brexit process by writing to the European Council to officially inform the EU that the UK is leaving.

Tensions between May and Sturgeon will escalate when the Scottish Parliament backs the First Minister’s plan to seek a second independence referendum the day before May sends her letter.

The independence debate, which was suspended following last week’s London attacks, will resume on Tuesday when the combined votes of SNP and Green MSPs will outnumber those of the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems.

Scotland on Sunday understands that May is committed to making a Scottish visit before Article 50 is triggered and is likely to meet Sturgeon tomorrow.

Downing Street sources say May’s strategy will be to argue that both governments should work together for “shared objectives” of retaining best possible access to the single market and securing the rights of EU nationals in the UK.

Achieving tariff-free access to the single market is a key objective where the UK government believes there is common ground between the two governments.

Guaranteeing the status of EU nationals living in the UK, continuing collaboration on academic research projects and maintaining cross border security and co-operation are others.

Those close to May believe that her refusal to meet Sturgeon’s demands for a second referendum before, or shortly after, the Brexit deal has taken some heat out of the Scottish constitutional issue. However, Sturgeon’s calls for another independence poll within her autumn 2018/spring 2019 timetable will escalate when her referendum motion is passed by parliament.

SNP anger will intensify when the First Minister then writes to May shortly afterwards demanding a section 30 order which would transfer referendum holding powers from Westminster to Holyrood and her request is rejected. More hostility is likely to be generated when the UK government this week makes its long awaited response to a Scottish Government document calling for a bespoke Brexit deal for Scotland.

The UK government will formally reject the Scottish Government’s call for a separate Scottish solution to EU withdrawal when it publishes its response to Sturgeon’s “Scotland’s Place in Europe” paper.

Sturgeon’s paper proposed a “compromise” that would protect Scotland’s place in the EU while remaining in the UK.

The UK response will underline the importance of maintaining the integrity of the UK market and its commitment to negotiating to leave the EU within a UK framework.

Last night a spokesman for Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, said: “The Scottish Government set out a clear path for Scotland that would have maintained Scotland’s place in the single market as well as within the UK.

“The UK government has shown no sign of listening to the views of the Scottish Parliament who supported that plan and opposed the triggering of Article 50.

“It has yet to give the Scottish Government any insight or input into their plans for triggering Article 50 and we are just days away from the publication of the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ which we have yet to see.

“We remain deeply disappointed with this approach and as a result it is now essential that the people of Scotland have a clear opportunity to choose their future in a future referendum.”

The Prime Minister will also use her meeting with the First Minister to discuss the Great Repeal Bill, which will come before Westminster on Thursday.

The bill will see the repatriation of powers to the UK and is set to be a key battleground between the two governments over which go to Westminster and which go to Holyrood.

A white paper will set out how the supremacy of EU law is ended and control over UK law is returned to Westminster, Holyrood, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.

The proposed legislation aims to ensure workers’ legal rights continue to be guaranteed in law and will give details of a “time-limited correcting power”, which will be created for Westminster and the devolved administrations.

A significant proportion of existing EU laws will cease to work properly unless adjustments are made.

The new power will allow parliaments to make the legal changes required to ensure legislation continues to work effectively as EU law is converted to UK law.

The new power will be handed to Holyrood so broken laws can be repaired in devolved legislation.

The white paper will include a “sunset clause” that will limit the time that the new powers are valid, from before the UK leaves the EU and for a short period afterwards.

A UK government source said: “Next week will mark a defining moment in this country’s history, when the Prime Minister invokes Article 50 and opens the way for formal negotiations to leave the European Union 
and build a truly global Britain.

“But a strong, sovereign country needs control of its own laws. That, more than anything else, was what drove the referendum result: a desire for the country to be in control of its own destiny.

“So next week we will get on with the job, and set out the steps we will take to ensure control of our laws lies in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403604.1490474002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403604.1490474002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May hopes her arrival in Scotland to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will enable her to promote shared objectives. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May hopes her arrival in Scotland to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will enable her to promote shared objectives. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403604.1490474002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/brexit-eu-members-agree-to-act-together-at-different-paces-1-4403371","id":"1.4403371","articleHeadline": "Brexit: EU members agree to ‘act together’ at different paces","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490449646000 ,"articleLead": "

European Union leaders have agreed that member states should be allowed to pursue integration at different paces, days before Theresa May officially triggers Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403370.1490449642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "European leaders leave the courtyard of the Musei Capitolini ahead of a special summit of EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Treaty of Rome. Picture; Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The 27 other EU leaders were marking the union’s 60th anniversary at an informal summit in Rome without the Prime Minister, as thousands joined an anti-Brexit march in Westminster.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called Brexit a “tragedy” while European Council president Donald Tusk called for sustained unity after Mrs May invokes Article 50 of the EU treaties to begin the UK’s withdrawal on Wednesday.

But in a declaration signed by the leaders to end the summit, the EU27 acknowledged that they could not always be fully united on all issues.

It stated: “We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction.”

Addressing the summit in an ornate hall on the ancient Capitoline Hill where the Treaty of Rome was signed on March 25 1957, paving the way for the formation of the EU, Mr Tusk said: “”Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all.

“Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world.

“Only a sovereign Europe guarantees independence for its nations, guarantees freedom for its citizens.”

Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni admitted the EU had “triggered a crisis of rejection” as its pace of development slowed, but insisted “we stand together and we move forward”.

It came as thousands joined an anti-Brexit march in central London, with Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, Labour MP David Lammy and Green co-leader Jonathan Bartley expected to address a rally in Parliament Square.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403370.1490449642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403370.1490449642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "European leaders leave the courtyard of the Musei Capitolini ahead of a special summit of EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Treaty of Rome. Picture; Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "European leaders leave the courtyard of the Musei Capitolini ahead of a special summit of EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Treaty of Rome. Picture; Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403370.1490449642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scots-believe-holyrood-has-more-influence-than-westminster-1-4403029","id":"1.4403029","articleHeadline": "Scots believe ‘Holyrood has more influence than Westminster’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490395329000 ,"articleLead": "

Trust in the Scottish Government has fallen since 2015, according to a new survey which also identified growing the economy as the top priority for the public.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403028.1490395325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "For the first time more people thought the Scottish Government had most influence over the way Scotland is run than the UK Government."} ,"articleBody": "

Statistics released from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) found fewer than half of those surveyed (40 per cent) last year trusted the Scottish Government to make fair decisions – a fall from the 49 per cent recorded in 2015.

Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) trusted the government to work in Scotland’s best interests – a fall from the 73 per cent recorded the previous year.

Trust in the UK government was lower with 25 per cent believing Westminster-based ministers worked in Scotland’s best interests and 18 per cent trusted them to make fair decisions.

More people thought that the Scottish Government had most influence over the way Scotland is run (42 per cent) than thought the UK government had most influence (41 per cent).

Three-quarters (75 per cent) of people said that the Scottish Government should have most influence over the way Scotland is run. Fourteen per cent said the UK Government should have the most influence

• READ MORE: Can Labour hold on to power in Fife?

Helping the economy to grow faster was the most commonly chosen priority for Scottish Government action (28 per cent).

More than half of respondents (54 per cent) said the economy had weakened over the past year, compared with 34 per cent in 2015.

More than one third (35 per cent) attributed the weakening economy to UK Government policy, 18 per cent to Scottish Government policy and 37 per cent to “some other reason”.

Yesterday Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “It’s little surprise that more than half of those taking part in this survey said the economy has weakened given the Tories’ reckless plans for a hard Brexit.

The last thing Scotland needs is even more uncertainty, so this should send a strong signal to the SNP to drop its plans for a divisive second independence referendum.”

Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said: “This survey recognises that the Scottish Government has enormous influence over the way this country is run and shows that people are desperate for the SNP to get back to the day job.

“Their independence obsession has resulted in fewer people trusting them to make fair decisions and act in Scotland’s best interest.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay claimed the survey showed the people trusted 
the Scottish Government to listen to their views and act fairly. He added that the Government shared the people’s views on the importance of the economy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4403028.1490395325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4403028.1490395325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "For the first time more people thought the Scottish Government had most influence over the way Scotland is run than the UK Government.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "For the first time more people thought the Scottish Government had most influence over the way Scotland is run than the UK Government.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4403028.1490395325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/parties-face-off-over-schools-ahead-of-fife-council-election-1-4402893","id":"1.4402893","articleHeadline": "Parties face off over schools ahead of Fife council election","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490368429000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s Scotland’s third largest local authority, representing the interests of more than 368,000 people.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402891.1490368717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fife House, the seat of the local authority in Glenrothes. Labour formed a minority administration following the last election in 2012. Picture: Neil Doig"} ,"articleBody": "

Fife is also one of the most intriguing political battlegrounds in May’s council elections. While the SNP is widely expected to make gains - as it is across the country - a range of pressing local issues ensure that no party can afford to second-guess the outcome.

A housing boom centred around Dunfermline has transformed the west of the county since the turn of the century, with increasing numbers of Fifers commuting to work across the Forth in Edinburgh.

Concerns over school capacities and transport links have intensified as a result. While the opening of the Queensferry Crossing should help alleviate the latter, the education problem is harder to solve.

A further 12,000 new homes in West Fife are planned over the next two decades, with current projections suggesting five high schools will reach capacity by 2021 as a result.

Fife Council is planning to rebuild three of the five but admits it currently lacks the money to do so.

Local authority representatives met with education secretary John Swinney before Christmas to raise the issue but deciding a way forward will be the responsibility of whoever takes charge in May.

READ MORE: SNP confident of ending Labour’s 40 year rule in Glasgow

“We’re looking to obtain additional funding through the Scottish Futures Trust, as we have with other schools,” said council leader David Ross.

“There are plans being developed in the short term to deal with the situation, but ideally we want to build new schools.”

The last elections in 2012 saw Labour form a minority administration at the council chambers in Glenrothes after winning 35 of the 78 available wards, a net gain of 11.

That was enough to dislodge the sitting SNP-Liberal Democrat coalition. Although the Nationalists increased their number of councillors to 26, a collapse in the Lib Dem vote ensured there would be no repeat of their power-sharing agreement.

Labour, under Ross, will be looking to retain power when voters return to the polls on May 4, but the leader admits the party faces a strong challenge.

“I think we have a good record in Fife in looking after the local issues that matter to people,” he said. “We have overseen the biggest affordable house building programme in Scotland in the last five years.

“2012 was a high water mark for us,” he said. “It would be remarkable if we did as well this time.”

The SNP - under new leader Neale Hanvey - are confident they can emerge as the largest party this time around.

“We have a core support of people who were in favour of independence at the last referendum who will give us their vote because they feel passionate about it,” Hanvey said.

“But there are a lot of people who are not affiliated with any party or union - they are parents who have found out class room sizes are going up, or teaching staff have been cut, and they want someone to do something about it. Local issues in Fife will certainly feature in this election.”

READ MORE: Scottish council election turnout could rise thanks to indyref2

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4402891.1490368717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402891.1490368717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fife House, the seat of the local authority in Glenrothes. Labour formed a minority administration following the last election in 2012. Picture: Neil Doig","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fife House, the seat of the local authority in Glenrothes. Labour formed a minority administration following the last election in 2012. Picture: Neil Doig","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4402891.1490368717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4402892.1490368718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402892.1490368718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dunfermline High Street. The Fife town has been the centre of a housing boom since the turn of the century. Picture: Norman Wilson/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dunfermline High Street. The Fife town has been the centre of a housing boom since the turn of the century. Picture: Norman Wilson/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4402892.1490368718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-wilson-what-the-public-wanted-was-not-on-the-eu-ballot-paper-1-4402055","id":"1.4402055","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: What the public wanted was not on the EU ballot paper","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490335200000 ,"articleLead": "

In times past, I was the recipient of many cheery greetings from London bobbies manning the entrance to New Palace Yard. My memories are of decent, helpful people doing their vital job with a bit of banter and minimum of fuss.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402054.1490288085!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pro-Brexit demonstrators gather outside the Houses of Parliament in November last year. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

When they weren’t attending to their duties, they were likely to be found posing with delighted ­tourists – images of our country and open democracy that went round the world a million times.

Since I opted out of Parliament in 2005, events have dictated substantial adjustments in the approaches to Westminster. On my occasional returns, it has struck me how ­successful these have been in ­combining security with continuing rights of relatively easy access.

These London bobbies at the gates epitomised that balance. In the aftermath of this week’s events, the challenge will be to refine and ­preserve both of its elements. ­However that is achieved, there will always be people in the front line and we should look upon them with renewed respect.

Attacks like this fail in their basic, demented purpose because they are much more likely to unite ­people than to divide them. Determination that life will go on as normal and that there will be no irrational responses repeatedly prevail, except on the furthest fringes.

Divisions which are normally magnified for the purposes of ­politics are seen in a truer perspective. However, it is entirely proper that democratic debate resumes as quickly as possible. And if that is true in the House of Commons, it is also true in the country. We move on, we argue – but maybe with an enhanced sense of proportion.

In that spirit, I had intended to write this week about a very interesting study of people’s attitudes towards Brexit, so maybe that is not a bad subject to persist with in order to demonstrate why exaggerating differences can become the enemy of reason.

On the basis of the EU referendum, we are invited to believe that there are two competing armies of Leave and Remain with irreconcilable ­differences of principle and values. In Scotland, there is an added twist. We are told ad nauseam that these are so extreme as to justify a second referendum on independence.

There is then supposed to be a ­subsidiary polarisation between those who favour a ‘hard Brexit’ and a ‘soft Brexit’, options which are ­presented in terms of mutual ­exclusivity as if there are two set meals on the negotiating menu, one of which must be discarded before service begins.

It really isn’t like that, as a report from the NatCen Social Survey, ­presided over by the unimpeachable Professor John Curtice, ­confirms. “For the most part,” he concludes, “Remain and Leave ­voters are not at loggerheads on the kind of Brexit they would like to see”.

On the contrary, clear majorities of both factions want to maintain free trade with the EU while also imposing hard borders on immigration. Perhaps most strikingly, 58 per cent of Remain voters want potential EU migrants to the UK to be treated in the same way as non-EU migrants. So much for “freedom of movement” as a holy grail!

As Curtice says: “Many Remain voters would like to see an end to the less popular parts of Britain’s ­current membership of the EU while many Leave voters would like to retain the more desirable parts such as free trade, cheap mobile phone calls and clean beaches.”

It is very difficult to discern from any of that the stereotyped views of hard and soft Brexit, except in the lexicon of politicians and ­commentators. Those who hold these ­absolutist positions (insofar as we know what they mean) are in the minority. This surely explains why so few Scots – regardless of how they voted – share the apocalyptic view of Brexit per se as a transformational event.

That is the essential background to the negotiations which the UK Government is about to trigger – and it scarcely suggests they will be hell-bent on throwing the European baby out with the Brussels bathwater.

According to Curtice’s findings, 93 per cent of Tory voters want free trade with the EU. Is Mrs May going to ignore them in pursuit of some ‘hard’ ideological objective she doesn’t, as far as we know, even ­subscribe to?

Life is complicated and referendums do little to simplify it. If you look at Curtice’s survey, the obvious conclusion is that majority ­public opinion would have been better served by a radical renegotiation of the UK’s membership of the EU, with withdrawal as the fall-back position rather than a starting point. But that option was not on the ballot paper, which is where exaggerating differences leads us.

Who knows what lies ahead once negotiations begin – but my guess is that they will end up somewhere most people, in Scotland as much as anywhere else, can live with ­fairly easily. Curtice’s survey certainly does not suggest that Scotland’s 62 per cent are wedded to free movement of labour within the EU (far less leaving the UK) any more than the UK’s 52 per cent are the sworn enemies of a single market.

I find it puzzling that the claim of a “mandate” for a second independence referendum is taken seriously. Political parties can put anything they like in their manifestos, but if they don’t have the power to ­legislate for it, then it is an opinion rather than a mandate. The time to argue that point, if anyone wanted to, was when the Smith Commission was realigning powers between Westminster and Holyrood, a deal to which all parties signed up.

The challenge for the Scottish ­Government, once negotiations begin, is to stop grandstanding about a referendum and start working constructively towards the most advantageous outcomes for Scotland. It will soon be transparent if their interest is in getting to the television cameras first, in order to claim betrayal – as opposed to being part of a team that works for ­Scotland and the whole UK.

Just as the objectives of Leave and Remain voters overlap far more extensively than the caricatures suggest, so too do the negotiating interests of Scotland and the other nations and regions of the UK. ­Pretending otherwise will be a ­difficult act to sustain once real jobs and real futures are at stake.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN WILSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4402054.1490288085!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402054.1490288085!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pro-Brexit demonstrators gather outside the Houses of Parliament in November last year. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pro-Brexit demonstrators gather outside the Houses of Parliament in November last year. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4402054.1490288085!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/art/jupiter-artland-launches-course-to-soothe-political-stress-1-4402245","id":"1.4402245","articleHeadline": "Jupiter Artland launches course to soothe political stress","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490309355000 ,"articleLead": "

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402244.1490309351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liz Magic Laser assembled a therapy group composed of actor participants with opposing political convictions. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

It is a time of global turmoil which has caused stresses and strains as people battle to come to terms with a changing political landscape and struggle to reconcile opposing points of view within friend and family groups.

But now an outdoor sculpture park outside of Edinburgh has come up with a solution – a “guided meditation” to help sufferers of political stress work through the strains of events such as Brexit and the Scottish independence referendum.

The “Political Therapy” course at Jupiter Artland, near Wilkieston, West Lothian – inspired by a work of art which will be on display at the park this summer – uses drama therapy to help release tension in people who feel frustrated by recent political events.

The workshop, which is to be held on two separate dates over the summer, utilises “primal therapy” psycho-therapeutic and meditation techniques, led by drama therapist and actress Louise Platt and inspired by an exhibition at the Artland by Brooklyn-based artist Liz Magic Laser, whose installation tackles a similar theme.

John Heffernan, head of exhibitions at Jupiter Artland, said: “We expect it will be very popular. Especially with the lively political climate we are dealing with in recent times, I think there will be a lot of demand.

“Now, there is a real interest in politics in Scotland and I think it is perfect timing to bring this exhibition by this American artist to Jupiter Artland.”

He added that he expected people from a broad range of political spectrums to attend.

“The whole point is to learn to deal with living with people of different political beliefs and being able to sit down and talk about it without anger or hostility,” he said.

The Artland’s events brochure explains how the workshop will play out. “Participants will be guided through a series of activities to facilitate the expression and release of frustrations associated with Brexit and other current events,” it says.

Ms Magic Laser’s installation Primal Speech, which will be on display at Jupiter Artland from 6 May to 1 October, is described as an “immersive mixed media installation”, with grey padded walls and therapeutic props such as punching pillows.

It encourages viewers of a video she created for the project to “express and exorcise” their socio-political and personal frustrations.

Ms Magic Laser, who has made political emblems in the form of soft toys – including one of the Scottish National Party logo – for use in the workshops, said: “I am expecting, that with the issues of Scottish independence being readdressed, that this will be a major theme at the workshops in Edinburgh. I think it could be interesting as there is less likely to be a left and right split.”

The course is to be held on 
3 June and 26 August.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4402244.1490309351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4402244.1490309351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Liz Magic Laser assembled a therapy group composed of actor participants with opposing political convictions. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liz Magic Laser assembled a therapy group composed of actor participants with opposing political convictions. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4402244.1490309351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-backs-cunningham-amid-indyref2-debate-row-1-4401962","id":"1.4401962","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon backs Cunningham amid indyref2 debate row","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490286792000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman has said the First Minister has confidence in a Cabinet minister who objected to the suspension of the Scottish Parliament following the Westminster terror attacks.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4401961.1490285411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon says Roseanna Cunningham has her full confidence. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham was seen gesticulating angrily at the Conservative benches after it was announced a Holyrood debate on Scottish independence would be halted out of respect for the victims of the atrocity unfolding in London.

Ms Cunningham objected to the suspension on the basis that parliamentary business should not be stopped in the face of terrorism.

After the altercation, which took place once parliamentary microphones had been switched off, Conservative MSPs privately claimed that Ms Cunningham had suggested Tories wanted to halt the debate because it was about independence. That claim was vigorously denied by Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman.

At a Scottish Government briefing Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman answered “yes” when asked if the First Minister had confidence in the Environment Secretary.

Ms Cunningham repeatedly refused to apologise when challenged by journalists at Holyrood yesterday.

She referred journalists to a statement released by her spokesman, which said: “Roseanna’s first thoughts are with all of those affected, and while she did initially take the view – shared by some from other parties – that business should not be suspended in the face of terrorism, she fully supports the decision (to suspend parliament) given the seriousness of events.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4401961.1490285411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4401961.1490285411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon says Roseanna Cunningham has her full confidence. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon says Roseanna Cunningham has her full confidence. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4401961.1490285411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/bill-jamieson-sturgeon-setting-sail-without-a-rising-tide-1-4401375","id":"1.4401375","articleHeadline": "Bill Jamieson: Sturgeon setting sail without a rising tide","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490265047000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP must pay heed to fears of small businesses before charting a new course towards indyref2, says Bill Jamieson

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4401374.1490265063!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon should be wary of mutiny in the ranks among those who backed independence first time around."} ,"articleBody": "

Wars can be won or lost, not by the movements of big battalions but by small platoons. It is advice to which Scotland as a whole now needs to take heed – and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in particular.

Truly, no more telling a barometer of our prospects is the mood across the smaller business sector. It is the enterprise spirit of these businesses, their risk-taking and positivity on which we depend to drive our economy and lift our fortunes.

READ MORE: Indyref2 debate at Holyrood postponed until Tuesday

The bald statistics barely begin to cover it. We have some 348,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs. They account for almost 55 per cent of private sector employment and 40 per cent of private sector turnover.

From café bars to garden supplies, plumbers to brand consultants, B&Bs to taxi drivers, shopkeepers to IT fixers, they are the vital lifeblood of our communities.

So in any prospective change in government policy and the constitution, the impact on our small firms matters greatly. And on few issues does it matter more than the current row over a second independence referendum.

During the 2013 referendum campaign the SNP made much of its support within the SME sector. Its Business for Scotland lobby group claimed “to being perhaps the best funded, supported, resourced and most effective associated group in the independence campaign”. And today it boasts more than 4,000 “associate and stakeholder members”.

So it is pertinent to note what their views are about the current controversy over ‘indyref 2’.

The accountants French Duncan – one of the largest mid-tier accountancy practices in Scotland – carried out an opinion survey last week to find out the views of Scottish SMEs today. The firm was besieged with 800 replies almost immediately, and given the speed and volume of responses had to cut off the survey after 24 hours.

The firm makes no claims to this being a professional survey or weighted sample so it’s perhaps best to treat these results as anecdotal. “We are under no illusion,” says the firm, “that this was not a scientific survey, but we thought that it would be an interesting snapshot of business’s opinion given that the vast majority of people on our database either work in SMEs or their clients/customers are SMEs.”

Nevertheless, the immediacy of response and the numbers would seem to leave little doubt as to the strength of feeling on this issue.

To describe the results as challenging for the SNP would be an under-statement. This is what the survey found:

A total of 89 per cent of respondents were opposed to a second referendum and 87 per cent believed they would be worse off under independence. An almost equal percentage – 85 per cent – said the economy would be likely to grow more slowly on independence and 92 per cent believed tax would rise.

Just 11 per cent believed an independent Scotland would be more attractive to inward investment while more than three quarters (76.4 per cent) said it would be less attractive.

As for their opinion as business people about the financial prospects of an independent Scotland, 5.2 per cent responded that they were “delighted” about the financial prospect while 62 per cent described their reaction as “terrified”.

French Duncan partner Graeme Finnie stresses that they are not pollsters and that the results should be regarded as little more than a snapshot of opinion. Nevertheless, “while we were not surprised at the general trend of opinion, we were surprised at the quantum”.

What’s also clear is that SME misgivings about another independence are less to do with considerations over timing than the bigger question of the economic prospectus that independence campaigners could offer a second time around.

These concerns are strongly amplified by the latest Fraser of Allander analysis this week. Over the ten years since the start of the financial crisis in 2007, it points out, the Scottish economy has grown by under seven per cent – equivalent to an average annual growth rate of just 0.7 per cent – less than a third of its long-term trend.

GDP per head is just 2 per cent higher over the same ten-year period and the incomes of many households remain worse off.

Next month’s statistics are likely to confirm that the Scottish economy grew by just 1 per cent last year. With growth of 1.2 per cent in 2015, the Scottish economy has now been stuck in a low-growth cycle for nearly two years. The FoA’s central forecast now is for pallid growth of just 1.2 per cent this year, 1.3 per cent next and 1.4 per cent in 2019.

“Strategies, action plans and ambitions around inclusive growth will only take us so far. What really matters are clear practical policy actions to support businesses, boost productivity, attract investment and create jobs. A renewed focus on how both the Scottish and UK governments can use the current powers at their disposal to support the Scottish economy is needed.”

Of particular concern is the lacklustre performance of the service sector relative to the UK – and it is here where many SMEs are to be found. The growth that does exist in the Scottish economy has been coming through services, making up around 75 per cent of the total economy. The sector has grown in each and every quarter since mid-2015, helped by a continued robust uptick in consumer spending and a sharp rise in financial and insurance activities. But it has notably lagged the UK. Over the year as a whole, UK services are up 3.1 per cent compared to growth of 2.1 per cent in Scotland.

While there has been a slightly more positive sentiment within the business community of late, levels of consumer confidence in Scotland have continued to slide. The GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell to minus 18 in February – well below the same index in the UK (which whilst also negative was - 6).

One possible explanation is the sharp fall in the expectations that households have for the economy in the foreseeable future. The Scottish Government’s own consumer confidence index points to a sharp weakening in expectations about the economy. “Given the scale of household spending in the economy,” says the FoA, “this loss in confidence does not bode well for future growth in Scotland.”

What a challenge we now face – and one which all the uncertainties of a second independence referendum have greatly intensified. Any credible prospects for a second referendum critically hinge not on the battle over the timing of such a vote, but what exactly an independence prospectus could offer to lift us out of the doldrums.

As matters stand, the First Minister has been pressing for a vote and to set sail whether or not there is a rising tide. The Fraser of Allander outlook – and that anecdotal survey of SME opinion – suggest the winds are far from clement.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BILL JAMIESON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4401374.1490265063!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4401374.1490265063!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon should be wary of mutiny in the ranks among those who backed independence first time around.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon should be wary of mutiny in the ranks among those who backed independence first time around.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4401374.1490265063!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4390813.1490265066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4390813.1490265066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish people must be given a choice.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish people must be given a choice.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4390813.1490265066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/indyref2-debate-at-holyrood-postponed-until-tuesday-1-4401232","id":"1.4401232","articleHeadline": "Indyref2 debate at Holyrood postponed until Tuesday","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1490262410000 ,"articleLead": "

A suspended vote on a possible second Scottish independence referendum will take place next Tuesday, Holyrood has confirmed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4401021.1490260293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police presence in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh."} ,"articleBody": "

MSPs had been expected to vote to give Nicola Sturgeon the authority to seek talks with the UK Government over a fresh ballot but business at the Scottish Parliament was suspended on Wednesday afternoon, part way through the debate, following the terror attack at the Palace of Westminster.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said that was “an expression of our support for our sister Parliament” in London.

READ MORE: Indyref2 vote on hold after Scottish Parliament suspended

Mr Macintosh chaired a meeting of party business managers on Thursday morning over the rescheduling of the debate.

MSPs had been due to vote on whether the Scottish Government should seek discussions with the Conservative administration at Westminster on the details of a section 30 order, the legal mechanism that would allow a second independence ballot to be held.

The debate was taking place after the First Minister’s shock announcement last week that another referendum should be held in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Ms Sturgeon has said she fully supported the decision to suspend proceedings at Holyrood, but stressed: “It should be made clear, however, that this was not because of any specific threat to the Parliament or to Scotland.”

Business at Holyrood resumed on Thursday morning and flags at the parliament were flying at half mast as a mark of respect.

A minute’s silence is due to be held at 9.33am in solidarity with parliamentary colleagues at Westminster.

Speaking after the Scottish Parliament suspended the indyref2 debate yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “My thoughts, as I’m sure the thoughts of everybody in Scotland tonight, are with people caught up in this dreadful event.

“My condolences in particular go to those who’ve lost loved ones.

“My thoughts are with those who’ve sustained injuries and we all feel a sense of solidarity with the people of London tonight.”

The First Minister stressed that there was no intelligence of any risk to Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4401021.1490260293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4401021.1490260293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police presence in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police presence in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4401021.1490260293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1490197017168"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}