{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scotland-s-island-councils-set-to-win-new-powers-1-4373769","id":"1.4373769","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s island councils set to win new powers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487775882000 ,"articleLead": "

A bill handing more powers to Scotland’s three island councils is expected to pass through the Scottish Parliament in May following a four year campaign for greater recognition of remote communities.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373768.1487777786!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boats moored at Stornoway harbour on the Isle of Lewis. The towns local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean, hopes to win more powers from Holyrood and Westminster. Picture: Jane Barlow/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Local authority leaders in Shetland, Orkney and Comhairle nan Eilean Sia expect the legislation to formalise the introduction of “island proofing”, which will require ministers to take into account their particular circumstances when introducing legislation at Holyrood.

The Islands Bill is also likely to include a provision for a National Islands Plan, which will offer legal protection to the island constituencies at the Scottish Parliament, as well as an option to introduce two or even one member wards at local authority level, as opposed to the current three or four member wards.

Further devolution could feature so-called “island deals” - similar to the City Deals offered by the Westminster Government to urban areas across the UK which free up central funds for infrastructure projects.

The bill, which islands minister Humza Yousaf announced in August would be introduced at Holyrood in the current Scottish Parliamentary year, follows a joint campaign launched by the three islands councils in June 2013.

Our Islands Our Future (OIOF) set out their vision for a stronger future following the independence referendum in 2014, regardless of the result.

“The campaign is very much ongoing and the islands’ authorities continue to work with both the Scottish and UK Governments to empower our communities,” Comhairle nan Eilean Sia leader Angus Campbell told The Scotsman.

“Further devolution of powers such as the ability to vary non-domestic rates would give us the opportunity to use economic levers for the benefit of island communities.

“The OIOF campaign is particularly keen that power over the seabed is transferred to coastal communities from the Crown Estate - as recommended by the Smith Commission.”

Scotland’s three island councils cover a vast geographical territory stretching from the Out Stack on Shetland to the southern tip of the Barra isles in the Outer Hebrides.

Despite their size, the local authorities are home to around 72,000 people - just 1.5 per cent of the population in Scotland.

Their remoteness - it’s often-repeated that Lerwick is closer to Oslo than London - means their vital contribution to both the Scottish and UK economy can be overlooked.

The seas around Shetland are home to vast oil and gas reserves. The new Laggan and Tormore fields discovered last year have the potential supply 100 per cent of Scotland’s gas needs, industry analysts have suggested.

In total, the two new fields, which have a lifespan of 20 years, will produce about 8% of the UK’s gas needs.

This wealth, amid on-going discussions over governance, has led to some Shetlanders to question whether it’s in their economic interest to remain a humble local authority area within a devolved Scotland and the wider UK.

Wir Shetland, which held its inaugural meeting in October 2015, argues the archipelago would be better served by becoming a British overseas territory - similar to the status of the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar.

“Many people in Shetland are disillusioned at how we are being governed,” said Duncan Simpson, membership secretary of Wir Shetland.

“There is no singular reason for the growing support for Wir Shetland, there is a multitude. Ranging from, but not excluded to, the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy, underfunding of Shetland’s education system and increasing centralisation.”

Islands Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I am determined to ensure the unique nature and needs of our island communities are championed at the heart of government, a commitment reinforced by our pledge in last year’s Programme for Government to bring forward an Islands Bill.

“This bill will seek to improve the outcomes for our island communities by putting in place a framework of measures that recognises the unique challenges they face.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4373768.1487777786!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373768.1487777786!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Boats moored at Stornoway harbour on the Isle of Lewis. The towns local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean, hopes to win more powers from Holyrood and Westminster. Picture: Jane Barlow/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boats moored at Stornoway harbour on the Isle of Lewis. The towns local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean, hopes to win more powers from Holyrood and Westminster. Picture: Jane Barlow/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4373768.1487777786!/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/bbc-announces-new-scottish-9-on-dedicated-new-30m-channel-1-4373347","id":"1.4373347","articleHeadline": "BBC announces new ‘Scottish 9’ on dedicated new £30m channel","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487796727000 ,"articleLead": "

The BBC is to create a new Scottish channel which will include an hour-long news programme featuring a mix of Scottish, UK and international news.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373346.1487777807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BBC director general Tony Hall has announced a new Scottish TV channel.."} ,"articleBody": "

Politicians of all parties and union leaders have welcomed news that the channel, which is due to start broadcasting in the autumn of next year, will see 80 jobs created for journalists.

The National Union of Journalists said the announcement, described by the BBC as the biggest single investment in broadcast content in Scotland in more than 20 years, was greeted with “massive relief” by its workforce in Glasgow when it was announced by director-general Tony Hall.

However, there was some disappointment that the BBC had rejected calls for a so-called “Scottish Six”, the long-standing SNP demand for an hour-long news bulletin to replace the existing arrangement of a UK news programme at 6pm on BBC One followed by Reporting Scotland.

The channel will be available from 7pm to midnight every evening and accessed via digital services such as Freeview, Sky, online and the iPlayer. The new news programme will be broadcast at 9pm on weekdays.

The BBC has also been urged to make sure that the new channel, which was proposed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in a speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival two years ago, is properly resourced.

It will have a budget of around £30 million, £19m of which is extra funding for BBC Scotland, while a further £20m will be made available for the making of drama and factual programmes in Scotland for the UK-wide network.

An additional £1.2m has been allocated to Gaelic channel BBC Alba, taking its budget to £20m, which will allow weekend news bulletins to be broadcast. Around £11m of the budget for the new channel will come from programmes currently made for BBC Two in Scotland.

Reporting Scotland and other Scottish opt-outs such as the soap opera River City and the countryside programme Landward will remain on BBC One. But some Scottish programmes such as Sportscene and the Thursday evening current affairs programme Timeline migrate to the new channel.

In future, Scottish-produced programmes such as Kirsty Wark’s recent The Insider’s Guide to the Menopause, Burns in the USA and the fly-on-the-wall documentary Sighthill will be shown on the new channel rather than BBC Two.

The NUJ in Scotland said it warmly welcomed the announcement from the BBC, which it said took most staff at Pacific Quay “by surprise”, saying it had tackled many of their concerns about future resourcing of news and current affairs.

National organiser Paul Holleran said: “It is great news, but we see this as the first step towards growing the investment in BBC Scotland and a move towards increasing the amount of spend north of the Border in line with the money raised here through the licence fee.”

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who had led Scottish Government demands for a shake-up of BBC Scotland in the past few years, said: “This is a real shift in the right direction from the BBC and responds to calls we’ve made for some time for a new TV channel for Scotland.

“While the increased investment in both journalism and wider production in Scotland is long overdue, this is a very positive development.

“It’s vital that the new BBC Scotland channel has complete commission and editorial independence, and is provided with the funding needed to match ambition.

“The channel will increase the proportion of the licence fee raised in Scotland that is spent in Scotland in years to come – but sadly will still fall well short of the proportionate share being spent in Northern Ireland and Wales.”

Ms Sturgeon told her Twitter followers there was “lots to welcome” in the announcement, but added that it was “vital” that the new channel was well funded.

She added: “Commitments to new investment and 80 additional jobs for journalists long overdue and very positive. It doesn’t deliver everything that everyone wanted – e.g. no Scottish 6 disappointing – but progress and hopefully sign of new thinking.”

SNP MP John Nicholson, a former BBC journalist, said: “You just have to watch the running order of the main BBC news. Quite often they will lead on an English health story then an English transport story. It will often have three English stories. That’s great for the people of England but it is obviously not good for the people of Scotland on their main channel.”

Shadow Scottish culture secretary Jackson Carlaw said: “This is an extremely welcome announcement. It’s good for jobs, journalism, scrutiny and programming. It also ensures those who still prefer the UK-wide BBC news at 6pm, and other programming on BBC1, get to keep that too.”

Scottish Labour’s culture spokesman Lewis Macdonald said the BBC had “listened to the views of Scots”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN AND BRIAN FERGUSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4373346.1487777807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373346.1487777807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BBC director general Tony Hall has announced a new Scottish TV channel..","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BBC director general Tony Hall has announced a new Scottish TV channel..","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4373346.1487777807!/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/nicola-sturgeon-don-t-call-second-referendum-indyref2-1-4373264","id":"1.4373264","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: Don’t call second referendum ‘indyref2’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487773214000 ,"articleLead": "

The First Minister has told top advisors not to refer to a second independence referendum as ‘indyref2’, according to reports.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343405.1487755246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has said she is determined to save Scotland from Brexit. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

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

Nicola Sturgeon wants to move away from the term being used to describe a new separation vote as she believes the political landscape has “completely changed”.

The SNP leader made her views clear earlier this month at a high level party meeting attended by around 25 senior aides.

READ MORE: Scott Macnab: Indyref2 poses new arguments

Her comments were made as the agenda for the meeting moved on to the subject of independence and the prospect of another poll on Scotland’s future in the Union.

“We were having a conversation about independence generally and Nicola said we shouldn’t be making reference to indyref2.

“She said this is a new referendum, we have a different set of circumstances, different reasons for having one and it is a completely separate matter,” an SNP insider told The National.

“She said a new referendum is specifically about the democratic deficit and about being pulled out of the European Union against our will. Brexit demonstrates most clearly that as a country we are not being heard and the UK is not a nation of equals.”

With the prospect of a new plebiscite being called in the coming weeks, Theresa May has ordered her ministers to go out and drive home the case for the Union. 
A Cabinet meeting yesterday was dominated by discussion of the need to “maintain, strengthen and nurture” the 300-year-old bond between the nations of the UK, with ministers told their departments should “listen to and engage with the devolved administrations”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343405.1487755246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343405.1487755246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has said she is determined to save Scotland from Brexit. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has said she is determined to save Scotland from Brexit. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343405.1487755246!/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/indyref2-will-alex-salmond-be-a-help-or-hindrance-to-snp-cause-1-4372919","id":"1.4372919","articleHeadline": "Indyref2: Will Alex Salmond be a help or hindrance to SNP cause?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487762592000 ,"articleLead": "

It should be an asset that any other campaigns can only dream of. A successful politician, still popular, who can lend executive experience and advice.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4364835.1487762564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond - A Key figure in Indyref2? Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

But eyebrows are already being raised at what role Alex Salmond could and should play in the campaign that is expected to kick into gear once a second referendum on independence is called.

With that prospect now looking more like a case of when and not if, Salmond’s successor Nicola Sturgeon might be best working out how exactly to keep her mentor in line.

All that leads to the question of exactly how useful the former First Minister can be in overturning the No campaign victory that gave him an uncharacteristic defeat in 2014.

A sore loser?

Alex Salmond doesn’t like losing – possibly because he doesn’t lose very often.

Biographies of the former First Minister often note that he hasn’t lost a personal election since narrowly failing to become Student Council President at St Andrew’s University in the 1970s.

That winning feeling, which Salmond has carried through any number of local and national elections, came to a shuddering end on September 18th 2014.

His initial plea that “One Scotland” would come together to get what is best for the country now seems a distant memory.

Salmond was slammed less than a week after the last referendum for musing that there were other routes to independence, including some that didn’t involve a vote.

The Scottish people were ‘duped’ claims Salmond, referring to a late ‘Vow’ on new powers from Westminster leaders (all three of whom are now gone) that adorned the front page of a Scottish tabloid newspaper.

Despite the promises being deliberately vague, and the Smith Commission substantively enacting them, Salmond has used the ‘Vow’ as something of a crutch to make his defeat somehow easier to handle.

Could the critics who claim Salmond hasn’t been able to accept the 2014 failure have a point? And does that mean he should play less of a role this time round?

Loose lips sink ships

From a warning, to a possibility, to a certainty. In the post-Brexit landscape, Salmond has been far more strident in his language than Nicola Sturgeon.

As Nicola Sturgeon tempers her words and says that while Brexit does represent the material change to Scotland’s circumstance that could trigger a second referendum, nothing is set in stone yet, her predecessor has no such desire to speak diplomatically.

READ MORE: Salmond on the ‘key battleground’ of Indyref2

Even since his return to Westminster, Salmond has wasted no time in hob knobbing with journalists, quaffing pink champagne and holding forth on his favourite subjects.

Sturgeon, who does know that Salmond remains a political heavyweight who could have an impact, would be forgiven for thinking that her old boss would be better seen and not heard.

With friends like these

Another reason that the issue of Salmond’s future role has reared its head once again is his comments just last weekend.

Salmond, unlike Sturgeon, is not bound by the constraints of high office, which typically require the holder to be mindful of where they speak and what they say.

That contrast has rarely been more stark than on Sunday, when Alex Salmond spoke at a ‘Freedom Convoy’ organised by a nascent ‘Yes2’ campaign.

Sturgeon, who as part of the campaign in 2014 that strictly banned ‘the F word’ might have groaned at the image of Salmond atop a children’s slide addressing a crowd that included someone in a saltire-adorned V for Vendetta mask.

Doubling down on his Trump-esque broadsides against the press, Salmond was accused of mimicking the President with a rant about the ‘Yoon Media’ that sparked anger yesterday.

Much like his continued denigration of the BBC, Salmond is in sharp contrast to Sturgeon, who has courted cordial relationships with journalists even among anti-independence outlets.

The A Team

Perhaps restricting the role of Salmond is more of a simple matter of strategy.

The Yes campaign is notable for apparently not having taken any stock of the reasons behind their loss in 2014.

There has been no visible post-mortem. The SNP’s success in the immediate aftermath of the failed push for independence, has, in the eyes of many, negated the need for any examination of just what went wrong two-and-a-half years ago.

To have Salmond assuming anything approaching leadership of an indyref2 campaign is to again ignore the many failings of the campaign that he led in 2014.

A man of Salmond’s talents and continued electoral success is unlikely to be sidelined, even as Nicola Sturgeon looks to build a new consensus for independence.

But to consider him one of the main assets of a new Yes campaign, given his behaviour since 2014, is something that Nicola Sturgeon would be foolish to do.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4364835.1487762564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4364835.1487762564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond - A Key figure in Indyref2? Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond - A Key figure in Indyref2? Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4364835.1487762564!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371692.1487762569!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371692.1487762569!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Indy Supporters gathered in Ellon","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Indy Supporters gathered in Ellon","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371692.1487762569!/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/politics/pm-tells-ministers-to-fight-for-union-as-indyref2-nears-1-4373089","id":"1.4373089","articleHeadline": "PM tells ministers to fight for union as Indyref2 nears","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487752710000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May has ordered her ministers to go out and drive home the case for the Union amid mounting speculation that a second referendum on Scottish independence could be called within weeks.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373088.1487751648!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May has told her cabinet to talk up the work government does in the devolved nations. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A Cabinet meeting yesterday was dominated by discussion of the need to “maintain, strengthen and nurture” the 300-year-old bond between the nations of the UK, with ministers told their departments should “listen to and engage with the devolved administrations”.

Downing Street said the meeting reflected the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect the Union as the UK navigates difficult Brexit negotiations over the next two years.

However, it comes with talks between the Scottish and UK governments on the approach to those negotiations at an impasse, with less than six weeks until the government formally triggers Brexit.

Independence campaigners have begun raising funds in expectation of an announcement within weeks, with Scottish Government ministers talking up the likelihood of second referendum.

An SNP spokesman claimed the meeting was a sign the UK government was “clearly rattled”.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell will today tell MSPs that there are no circumstances under which Scotland could stay in the EU after Brexit, warning Nationalists that Scotland would find itself outside the bloc even if they push for an early independence referendum.

READ MORE: Scott Macnab: Indyref2 poses new arguments

“I think it is important to be clear, because there has been a lot of public debate on this point – that Scotland will not be in the EU at the end of this process,” Mr Mundell is expected to say when he appears before the Scottish Parliament’s culture, tourism, Europe and external relations committee.

“There is no set of circumstances in which Scotland could remain a member of the EU after the rest of the UK has left.

“If Scotland’s constitutional position were ever to change, it would have to apply to be a member of the EU afresh and we should not make easy assumptions about the length of time this would take, the process Scotland would have to follow or the terms of membership that may be on offer.”

Mr Mundell’s comments follow a report by two leading academics which suggested Scotland could be back in the EU by 2023 if it voted for independence after Brexit

Tobias Lock, from the University of Edinburgh, and Kirsty Hughes, of Friends of Europe, said there was “considerable political goodwill to Scotland in EU capitals since it is facing Brexit despite having voted to remain”, and that “that political goodwill, on current trends, is likely to feed into an effort to fast-track Scotland’s EU membership in the event of a successful independence vote”.

Whitehall officials are considering Scottish Government proposals to keep Scotland inside the European single market, but Downing Street has ruled out any special Brexit deal that allows a different relationship with the EU on opposite sides of the Border.

Both governments say talks will continue ahead of a 
31 March government deadline for triggering Article 50.

Responding to the discussion at Cabinet, an SNP spokesman said: “This shows the Tories are clearly rattled at how their actions are being seen by people across Scotland – and they have good ­reason to be.

“They talk about listening seriously to Scotland, but their actions tell a completely different story – underlined by the fact the UK Cabinet failed to discuss the Scottish Government’s compromise proposals on Europe. The Tories now seem to think they can do what they want to Scotland and people will simply accept it.

“They may discover just how wrong they are about that if they continue trying to drag Scotland out of Europe against its democratic will and in their reckless pursuit of a hard Brexit, which threatens to take Scotland and the rest of the UK off an economic cliff-edge, with catastrophic ­consequences for jobs and livelihoods.”

A Scottish Tory party spokesman said: “Rather than launching daft attacks on UK Cabinet agenda, the SNP government should be asking why fewer and fewer people in Scotland want a second referendum on independence. The answer is because most Scots know that protecting our own Union is vital to our future security and prosperity.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4373088.1487751648!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373088.1487751648!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May has told her cabinet to talk up the work government does in the devolved nations. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May has told her cabinet to talk up the work government does in the devolved nations. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4373088.1487751648!/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/scott-macnab-indyref2-poses-new-arguments-1-4373223","id":"1.4373223","articleHeadline": "Scott Macnab: Indyref2 poses new arguments","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487751398000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s political landscape has changed since 2014 and both sides must adapt to this, says Scott Macnab.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373222.1487751377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nationalists and their pro-union opponents would face a different set of arguments a second time around. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The prospect of a second independence referendum will come to a head over the coming weeks as Scotland’s party conference season gets under way. Nicola Sturgeon is widely expected to set out her next steps when the SNP gathers in Aberdeen in a few weeks’ time. As the UK hurtles towards a “hard Brexit” outside the EU’s lucrative single market, with the knock-on cost to jobs, growth and free movement of goods and people, Nationalists increasingly sense their time is coming. Even Tony Blair met with a warm response from Ms Sturgeon last week when he suggested the case for independence is now more credible.

But is it? The landscape of Scottish politics has changed dramatically over the past two-and-a-half years, leaving the pro-independence and pro-union campaigns with tough questions to answer.

A number of factors bode well for the Nationalist campaign. The most obvious change has been the Brexit result and Ms Sturgeon is on strong ground here. The SNP made it clear going into the Holyrood election last May – which returned a Nationalist majority (including Greens)- that the prospect of Scotland being “dragged out of EU against its will” could prompt a push for a quickfire referendum on independence. When 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain, but saw the weight of votes south of the Border swing the result in favour of Leave, Nationalists were already agitating.

READ MORE: Theresa May orders ministers to make case for the Union

Perhaps it’s easy to understand their anger, as they see Scotland being pushed down the road of fundamental social, economic and constitutional change it didn’t vote for. It’s exactly the kind of democratic deficit which sparked the rise of the home rule movement in the 1980s.

Scotland votes one way, but finds itself heading down a different path dictated by the outcome south of the Border.

The demise of Labour in Scotland can only play into the hands of a future Yes campaign for a 2018 vote.

Defeat to the Tories at the Holyrood election last year was bad enough for Kezia Dugdale’s party, which found itself deposed as the main opposition party in Scotland.

Another painful day is looming for Labour at the ballot box in this May’s council election. Labour was at the heart of the pro-union campaign last time round, with Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown playing pivotal roles in delivering a No vote. Its diminishing clout in Scottish politics can only help the Yes camp.

It also begs the question: Who will lead a future No campaign?

Ruth Davidson may be a frontrunner. People like the “cut of her jib”, she talks straight and has transformed her party’s fortunes in Scotland. She is now a political star on the UK stage.

But has the political landscape changed so much that a majority in Scotland is ready to coalesce behind a campaign headed by a Tory? The polls have also changed dramatically in favour of the Yes camp from the start of the campaign last time round. A small majority persists in favour of the union, but with some bookmakers now making a Yes vote odds on, it’s clear that opinion is now split down the middle.

The grassroots activism which emerged in the final months of the referendum campaign, spearheaded by groups like the Radical Independence Campaign, which helped drive the Yes side to within touching distance of victory, has also not gone away. But there are substantial new problems for the Yes campaign to confront which could fatally undermine the independence dream. The economic meltdown which Scotland has suffered since 2014 when the oil price began to slide shows little sign of abating.

Stagnant growth – while UK GDP prospers – rising unemployment and a burgeoning trade deficit paint a gloomy economic picture north of the border. It’s hardly the kind of backdrop to persuade voters to take the leap into such a major constitutional change.

This may already be happening with Brexit anyway, but the emotional ties which stem from a 300-year-old union in Britain are likely to outweigh the altogether more tenuous political links to Brussels. If the next referendum is framed as a straight choice between being part of the UK or the EU, that won’t play well for the Yes camp. Just look at recent figures showing that UK trade is four times as valuable to Scotland as the rest of the EU. That’s if we even get into the EU after independence.

Scotland currently has a spending deficit of £15 billion. At 9.5 per cent of GDP, this is three times higher than strict EU rules allow. And let’s not forget how the EU troika treats smaller peripheral members – like Portugal and Greece – when their economies struggle. If Westminster austerity feels bad, ask folk in Athens about the crippling impact of Brussels-driven austerity.

The oil price crash poses a greater dilemma for the credibility of the pro-independence case. Nationalists will face a torrid time having to explain some of their more outlandish claims last time round about the value and longevity of the North Sea. Oil revenues briefly fell into the red recently as production levels plummeted and the price remained stubbornly low. It hardly seems to tally with former energy minister Fergus Ewing’s 2013 claim that oil would last until the end of the century. Current production levels suggest it will be on its last legs within a decade, with firms like Shell stepping up their decommissioning plans.

And whereas the SNP’s case for independence last time was built on the success they made of running devolved Scotland, this time around they face real problems on the domestic front. Once a world-leading education nation, pupils in Scotland are now falling down international league tables and behind their English peers. Barely a week goes by without more gloomy news on the NHS over excessive waits and staffing problems. And transport minister Humza Yousaf has faced calls for his head over the performance of Dutch train operator Abellio.

So the arguments have changed and any campaign is unlikely to be a simple re-run of 2014. The outcome will likely be down to which side can seize this changed political landscape as their own.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4373222.1487751377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4373222.1487751377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nationalists and their pro-union opponents would face a different set of arguments a second time around. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nationalists and their pro-union opponents would face a different set of arguments a second time around. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4373222.1487751377!/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-comment-timing-crucial-on-eu-decision-1-4372959","id":"1.4372959","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: timing crucial on EU decision","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487743200000 ,"articleLead": "

When former prime minister Tony Blair made his ill-advised and damaging foray in to the Brexit debate by saying, among other things, that the context for the pro-Scottish independence case is “much more credible” after the Brexit vote, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying that Blair was just stating the obvious.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372958.1487703223!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell is expected to tell MSPs that it would be impossible for Scotland to stay in the EU after Brexit."} ,"articleBody": "

The same observation could be made when looking at what Scottish Secretary David Mundell is expected to say to members of the Scottish Parliament today when he says there are no circumstances under which Scotland could stay in the EU after Brexit.

Technically, as the UK is the member, Scotland cannot remain in the EU, but that does not mean that Scotland’s future could not be in the EU after a referendum vote to leave the United Kingdom. There are of course some obstacles to that including the economic qualifying criteria, but the very heart of politics is that where there is a will, there is a way, rules can change, exceptions can be made by politicians who all want the same thing. If it was the settled will of the Scottish people to be in Europe, and the settled will of the EU that it wanted Scotland as a member, then a way would be found.

That would be when Scots found out about the terms of membership, and the costs as well as the benefits the new-look Europe could offer, and that is unlikely to be found in the near future.

So it seems likely that Scots will know nothing of that detail when they are asked to decide. In those circumstances it would be impossible to make an informed decision that EU membership was where the best interests of Scotland lay.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372958.1487703223!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372958.1487703223!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell is expected to tell MSPs that it would be impossible for Scotland to stay in the EU after Brexit.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell is expected to tell MSPs that it would be impossible for Scotland to stay in the EU after Brexit.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372958.1487703223!/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/indyref-2-is-david-mundell-right-to-say-scotland-must-leave-eu-1-4372925","id":"1.4372925","articleHeadline": "Indyref 2: Is David Mundell right to say Scotland must leave EU?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487705271000 ,"articleLead": "

David Mundell has a very clear message – Pack your bags, Scotland, because you’re leaving the European Union.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372976.1487705246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Tory Scottish Secretary is due to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s committee on Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations tomorrow.

But it appears that there is no need for Scots concerned about the impact of Brexit on our constitutional future to tune in to Parliament TV.

Mundell, the only Tory MP north of the border, has got in ahead of his evidence tomorrow to reveal exactly what he will say to MSPs, especially those minded to use Europe as a means to lever more support for independence.

He is due to say “I think it is important to be clear that Scotland will not be in the EU at the end of this process.

“There is no set of circumstances in which Scotland could remain a member of the EU after the rest of the UK has left.”

But others think Scotland can get a bespoke deal, and that it is foolish of the UK Government to be that blunt with the Scottish Parliament.

Laying down the law

Tories, both in Scotland and in Theresa May’s government, now that there is always an inherent strategic risk in being seen to dictate to Scottish voters

Any Conservative who is sent to Holyrood to report the latest dispatch from Westminster risks being hounded by politician and press alike for their attitude.

But Mundell reasons that the Scottish people deserve the truth, no matter how harsh that reality may appear to the majority of voters who backed a remain vote in last year’s Brexit referendum.

Warnings over the length of time it takes after applying to become a member of the European Union were effective in the first independence referendum campaign.

The Westminster Government has been cheered by the approach of the European Commission in the UK, that has suggested that Scotland will need to abide by the process set out by the Tory-majority Government.

Mundell’s case is also enhanced by the ruling of the Supreme Court that despite Nicola Sturgeon’s objections, Holyrood doesn’t need to approve of the final Brexit deal, unlike the House of Commons.

A special deal?

Scotland’s SNP-led Government, however, sees things differently.

Nicola Sturgeon has even gone as far as to appoint a cabinet-level Minister to deal with how to navigate the choppy waters of Brexit from within the UK.

Michael Russell is the man who has been given the wordy job title of ‘Minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe.’

Russell, on hearing Mundell’s comments, furiously contended that the Scottish Government had put forward a coherent plan to keep Scotland within the EU single market even as the UK departs it.

Russell too raised alarm about the prospect of “A right-wing Tory Government we didn’t vote for intent on taking us off a hard Brexit cliff edge which would be catastrophic for jobs and livelihoods.”

Russell’s team also seized on a report that suggested that EU leaders were amenable to the proposals of the Scottish Government.

A footnote on one such committee of the European Parliament noted it was important to consider that Scots had voted to stay in the EU by a huge margin.

But even the most optimistic of pro-remain Scots know that these proposals would need to be at least tacitly endorsed by Theresa May’s government, something Mundell has made clear is not likely to happen any time soon.

The Nuclear Option

Of course, the previous two scenarios both involve Scotland seeking to negotiate, or secure a better deal, while still a part of the UK.

But as the Tories continue to pursue a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that another referendum on independence is still very much on the table.

Sturgeon has said that the ‘material change in circumstances’ that Brexit has brought about, is likely to trigger than much-debated second vote.

While some Tories say that Westminster should block a second referendum from taking place before the UK leaves the EU, that has potential to massively backfire.

A Tory Government with just one MP blocking a binding referendum could be just the ammo that Sturgeon needs to undertake an ‘advisory’ referendum and dare Westminster to defy the result.

In the event that referendum takes place relatively quickly, and that it is a Yes vote, it would be increasingly hard to deny Scotland a special deal, no matter how strong David Mundell’s warning is.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372976.1487705246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372976.1487705246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372976.1487705246!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4352811.1487705250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4352811.1487705250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit minister Mike Russell. Picture: Craig Borland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit minister Mike Russell. Picture: Craig Borland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4352811.1487705250!/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/politics/tories-clearly-rattled-by-prospect-of-indyref2-claims-snp-1-4372930","id":"1.4372930","articleHeadline": "Tories ‘clearly rattled’ by prospect of indyref2, claims SNP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487701757000 ,"articleLead": "

UK Government ministers are “clearly rattled” about the prospect of a possible second independence referendum, the SNP has claimed, after Theresa May’s cabinet meeting focused on the importance of the Union.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372929.1487701736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that indyref2 could be announced within the coming weeks. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

A Downing Street spokesman revealed the bulk of Tuesday morning’s discussions had centred on the issue.

The talks come at a time of continued speculation that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may seek to hold a fresh ballot on Scotland’s place in the UK in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

While the UK as a whole voted to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, almost two-thirds (62%) of voters north of the border backed Remain.

Since then, the Scottish Government has put forward “compromise proposals” aimed at keeping the country in the European single market, even if the rest of the UK quits the trading bloc.

There has been no formal response from the UK Government to this suggestion.

The Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister said that the government recognises how much we all value the Union and how it has been an incredibly successful partnership, and we must continue to point that out.

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

“She added that everyone round the table wants the union to work and stay together.

“She invited the Minister for the Cabinet Office to lead a discussion on the importance of continuing to engage with and listen to the devolved administrations.

“He pointed out it was the most successful political union of countries that has been seen and said it is critical that we continue to maintain, strengthen and nurture a 300-plus-year-old relationship.

“Members of the cabinet also spoke out in support of the Union, particularly in relation to the work that their departments carry out.

“There was a consensus on the importance of maintaining a level of engagement and work to strengthen and enhance the union going forward.”

The spokesman described the discussion as “a recognition that as we go into the phase of entering negotiations to exit the EU, there is a recognition that we want to get the best deal for all parts of the UK”.

An SNP spokeswoman said: “This shows the Tories are clearly rattled at how their actions are being seen by people across Scotland - and they have good reason to be.

“They talk about listening seriously to Scotland but their actions tell a completely different story - underlined by the fact the UK cabinet failed to discuss the Scottish Government’s compromise proposals on Europe.

“The Tories now seem to think they can do what they want to Scotland and people will simply accept it.

“They may discover just how wrong they are about that if they continue trying to drag Scotland out of Europe against its democratic will and in their reckless pursuit of a hard Brexit, which threatens to take Scotland and the rest of the UK off an economic cliff-edge, with catastrophic consequences for jobs and livelihoods.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Katrine Bussey"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372929.1487701736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372929.1487701736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that indyref2 could be announced within the coming weeks. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that indyref2 could be announced within the coming weeks. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372929.1487701736!/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/poll-backing-for-independent-scotland-in-or-out-of-eu-1-4367975","id":"1.4367975","articleHeadline": "Poll: Backing for independent Scotland ‘in or out of EU’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697620000 ,"articleLead": "

A new opinion poll shows that support for Scottish independence still trails behind remaining in the UK, with Yes on 46 per cent and No on 54 per cent.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4367996.1487255424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Support for Scottish independence is at 46 per cent, according to a new poll. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

However, the Panelbase poll also suggests that a majority of Scots would support an independent Scotland within or outside the European Union.

When pollsters specifically asked respondents to choose between Scotland being an independent country inside the EU, being an independent country outside the EU, or staying part of the UK after Brexit, 52.5 per cent said they would opt for an independent country either inside or outside the bloc.

In a further blow for Labour, just 15 per cent said they thought Jeremy Corbyn’s party would form the next government in 2020.

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4367996.1487255424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4367996.1487255424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Support for Scottish independence is at 46 per cent, according to a new poll. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Support for Scottish independence is at 46 per cent, according to a new poll. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4367996.1487255424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1487268344374"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/indyref2-which-public-figures-have-changed-sides-in-debate-1-4365411","id":"1.4365411","articleHeadline": "Indyref2: Which public figures have changed sides in debate?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697601000 ,"articleLead": "

The starting gun might not yet have been fired on a second referendum on Scottish independence, but both sides are refusing to keep their powder dry.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4362356.1487697577!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Alex Salmond proved he can still set the news agenda (and give his successor Nicola Sturgeon a headache) when he told anyone who would listen last week that a new poll would happen next year.

2014’s referendum saw a whole host of celebrities, sports-people, and global business leaders coming down on one side of the fence or another.

With a debate currently raging both in the UK and America over whether celebrities should engage with politics, or whether they are just ‘luvvies’ sticking their nose in, it remains to be seen what impact they will have in a second referendum.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: EU trade links ‘key battleground’ for indyref2

In terms of superstars, the No campaign had the edge in the 2014 vote, but Yes got a polling-day boost from tennis great Andy Murray.

But looking ahead to the next independence referendum, should it happen, will the celebrity battle lines be drawn again? Here are some of the big names who have changed their minds on the decision on Scotland’s future.

David Tennant – No to Yes

The former Doctor Who star might have been as involved in the Better Together campaign as some of his fellow creatives like JK Rowling, but he has made his feeling clear before on the SNP and nationalism.

He has also been a staunch supporter of Labour in the past, narrating several Party Political Broadcasts for the party in the UK and Scotland, as well as endorsing them at elections.

This weekend, however, Tennant said that Brexit, combined with the poor polling ratings of incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn, had made him changes his mind.

He told a newspaper: “I think that we are in for quite a dark time, politically. I’m now at the point where I think that if Scotland goes again for a referendum, they should go independent.”

John Hannah - No to Yes

Another Scottish actor – perhaps best known for his role in Four Weddings and a Funeral, also was influenced by the Brexit vote.

Last June’s shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union, a proposition Scottish voters rejected by a near two-to-one margin, was the material change many in the SNP thought could boost independence.

While some polls suggest that argument may be cutting through, it is also one that is relevant for public figures who have changed their mind.

Hannah said last summer: “I wasn’t particularly happy with the idea of Scotland breaking up from the rest of the UK, however, under these circumstances, I would have no doubt in saying that the Scottish people should pursue their own interests and stay attached to Europe and have self-governance as an independent country.

Ewan McGregor – No to Yes (just about)

It might be somewhat harsh to include the Trainspotting megastar in this list, considering he has admitted to being ‘totally confused’ on the issue of Scotland’s constitutional future.

But he is another Scottish acting export whose mind appears to have been changed by the victory of Farage and co in the Brexit referendum.

McGregor told Andrew Marr: “The truth is I didn’t want Scotland to be independent in 2014. I was worried Scotland would flounder if it was on its own and I believed in the Union and that we were stronger together.

McGregor also spoke of his horror at seeing a victorious Nigel Farage in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, adding: “The next day I would have absolutely voted for Scotland to leave (The UK) I really would have done.”

Jim McColl – Yes to No

Not for nothing did some dub the millionaire ‘Alex Salmond’s favourite businessman’. The engineering entrepreneur was a key business figure in 2014’s referendum.

The East Kilbride native, known for his role at the helm of Clyde Blowers, was even feature on pro independence leaflets in the build up to the big vote.

But in the spring of 2015, McColl told the Financial Times that while he still supported further autonomy to boost the economy, the independence issue was settled.

Pressed on whether he still believed the country would move towards becoming a separate state, he said: “No. The decision has been made.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4362356.1487697577!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4362356.1487697577!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4362356.1487697577!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4365410.1486992600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4365410.1486992600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Tennant has changed his mind on independence. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Tennant has changed his mind on independence. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4365410.1486992600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1487268344374"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/independent-scotland-should-have-own-currency-and-central-bank-1-4341267","id":"1.4341267","articleHeadline": "Independent Scotland ‘should have own currency and central bank’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697556000 ,"articleLead": "

A nationalist MP has said an independent Scotland should have its own currency and central bank.

" ,"articleBody": "

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East and Constitutional Affairs spokesman for the SNP, was speaking at the Scottish Independence Convention.

Whether an independent Scotland would have its own currency proved a contentious issue in the lead up to the 2014 referendum.

Then Chancellor George Osborne said the UK Government would refuse to allow an independent Scotland to use the pound.

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon presents her Brexit proposals for Scotland

Sheppard told the convention meeting in Glasgow: “The time has come to say that if we want our own government which is capable of investing in our economy and making sure we develop and modernise our industry, then that government will need to have a central bank behind it, under its own control, and we are going to have to have our own currency.

“One of the lessons we learnt from 2014 is that it is very difficult to go into a campaign when one of your central policy points relies on consent from your opponents, and therefore the next time it will be clear that what we will say we can offer we can do in Scotland using the political power we seek from the electorate.”

READ MORE - Support for Scottish independence higher than 2014 shows new poll

He added: “I know it has to be tested, I’m not suggesting we start printing the leaflets just yet.

“But we should spend this year looking at the options, testing the possibilities, looking at the downsides and the upsides of policy options, but I think at the end of it we will come out with a belief we can run our own economy with our own currency and that will make us stronger.”

Sheppard played a prominent role in the Yes campaign ahead of the September 2014 vote and was elected SNP MP for Edinburgh East in 2015.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/tony-blair-scottish-independence-case-much-more-credible-1-4369155","id":"1.4369155","articleHeadline": "Tony Blair: Scottish independence case ‘much more credible’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697529000 ,"articleLead": "

Tony Blair claimed the case for Scottish independence is “much more credible” after the Brexit vote and warned the break up of the UK was back on the agenda.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369154.1487328399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say today that the case for Scottish independence has been made "much more credible" following the Brexit vote. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The former prime minister made his remarks in a speech calling on pro-Europeans to “rise up” and persuade Leave voters to change their minds about quitting the EU.

Mr Blair rejected the idea that leaving the EU was “inevitable” despite the vote against EU membership recorded last year.

As he urged “progressives” to make it their “mission” to reverse the outcome of June’s referendum, Mr Blair gave his view on the Scottish implications of the Brexit vote.

“In addition to all this, there is the possibility of the break-up of the UK, narrowly avoided by the result of the Scottish referendum, but now back on the table, but this time with a ­context much more credible for the independence case,” Mr Blair said.

Questioned following the speech at the London headquarters of financial firm Bloomberg, Mr Blair added: “I want Scotland to remain in the UK. Even if Brexit goes ahead, I’m still in favour of Scotland remaining in the UK.

“Let’s be very clear, Scotland’s single market with England is of far greater importance to it economically than Scotland’s interaction with the rest of Europe.

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

“When myself and John Major warned this would be a threat to the UK we meant it, and it was true, and you can see that by the referendum coming back on the agenda.”

His remarks were pounced on by the SNP with Nicola Sturgeon telling BBC Scotland that Mr Blair was “stating the obvious”.

The First Minister, who has already said a second referendum is “highly likely”, added she believes the case for independence is “even more compelling” now than it was at the time of the 2014 referendum.

Mr Blair’s remarks will be seen as unhelpful for Scottish Labour, which has been attempting to promote the message that there should not be a second independence referendum.

Scottish Labour Westminster spokesman Ian Murray said: “The Tory Brexit chaos has certainly given the SNP the excuse it was looking for to stoke up more grievance.

“But the reality is that the economic case for separation is even worse now than when the people of Scotland rejected it in 2014.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Tony Blair may not be aware of it but the fact is that only around a quarter of people in Scotland want another referendum on independence now.”

He added the SNP’s attempts to use Brexit to muster support for another Scottish independence referendum had “failed”.

Arguing for the Brexit decision to be looked at again, Mr Blair said: “I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to rethink. But the people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind. Our mission is to persuade them to do so.

“I don’t know if we can ­succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4369154.1487328399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4369154.1487328399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say today that the case for Scottish independence has been made "much more credible" following the Brexit vote. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say today that the case for Scottish independence has been made "much more credible" following the Brexit vote. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4369154.1487328399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1487268344374"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/alex-salmond-scots-ready-to-vote-yes-after-brexit-1-4320539","id":"1.4320539","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond: Scots ready to vote Yes after Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697498000 ,"articleLead": "

ALEX Salmond has warned that Scots will vote for independence if the UK Government blocks move for a stand-alone Holyrood deal on Brexit.

" ,"articleBody": "

The former First Minister insists that if UK ministers “refuse to listen” to Scotland’s proposals to remain in the EU single market, it will trigger an independence referendum in two years which would deliver a Yes vote.

The Scottish Government will set out its Brexit strategy on Tuesday. It will include calls for new powers for Holyrood which could pave the way for a stand alone Scottish deal on single market membership. Controls over immigration and employment rights and business regulation will be among the measures that will be set out by Nicola Sturgeon when she sets out the options on Tuesday.

It will call on the UK to remain in the EU single market, but if this cannot be done and a separate Scottish deal is proposed. If this is ruled out by Westminster, then Scottish independence would be delivered in two years, Salmond said.

“In a situation where a United Kingdom government was determined - despite being given every opportunity - to sever Scotland’s European links, to sever our ties as a thousand year old European nation, then I think that would bring many people who were previously sceptical about independence onto the Yes side,” Mr Salmond told BBC’s Sunday Politics show.

“There’s a lot of people with an open mind about Scottish independence. Certainly I think there are people who are passionately in favour and people who are strongly against.

“But there are still lots of folk in Scotland who would regard Scotland’s prosperity, securing Scotland’s position as a European nation and the rights of Scottish workers, the equal treatment of our fellow Europeans, access to the single market place as a member, as key priorities which if they could only be maintained and claimed by independence could be persuaded to vote in that direction over the next two years.”

Mr Salmond pointed to weekend polling which showed that two-thirds of Scots wanted to maintain Scotland’s place in the single market and put that above the control of immigration.

“What we’re seeing is a variety of indications about a clarion call for Scotland to make its way as a European nation,” he said.

“In the absence of any alternative to secure that position I think would be a strong position to debate the independence issue.”

Ms Sturgeon will become the first UK leader to publish a formal strategy on how to respond to the Brexit vote.

The referendum in June saw 62 per cent of Scots vote to remain in the EU, but the UK voted to leave the Brussels bloc on the strength of votes from south of the border.

Ms Sturgeon said at the weekend that leaving the EU single market will have “profound consequences” for Scotland’s economy and society and retaining Scotland’s membership of this institution will be “at the heart” of her strategy on Tuesday. The Scottish Government’s starting point is for the UK to remain in the EU single market.

But she added: “If that is not possible, then we will also be outlining ways in which this could be achieved for Scotland even if the rest of the UK leaves.

“Doing so will involve the devolution of new powers to Edinburgh.

“But regardless of what happens with the single market, there are further powers being repatriated from Brussels which should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. It would add insult to injury if being dragged out of the EU were to be accompanied by a Westminster power grab.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/mel-gibson-braveheart-woke-something-up-in-scottish-politics-1-4344026","id":"1.4344026","articleHeadline": "Mel Gibson: Braveheart ‘woke something up’ in Scottish politics","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697449000 ,"articleLead": "

Mel Gibson believes his Oscar-winning film Braveheart “woke something up” in Scotland during the country’s debate over independence.

" ,"articleBody": "

The Hollywood star, who played 13th century Scottish warrior William Wallace in the 1995 movie, said the decision to devolve powers to Holyrood had been a “good thing” for Scotland.

But Gibson, 61, did not reveal whether he backed Scottish independence, saying he did not comment on the politics of other countries.

In an interview, Gibson said of Braveheart: “It certainly woke something up there in Scotland. I know they achieved partial autonomy for that and I think it was a good thing.

“I like to stay out of the politics of other people’s nations so I won’t go further.”

The Scottish Parliament was created following the 1997 devolution referendum, while the 2014 vote on Scottish independence ended in favour of remaining part of the UK by 55.3% to 44.7%.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond predicts indyref2 in autumn 2018

Gibson described Wallace as a “butcher” but said he saw similarities in Second World War hero Desmond Doss, the subject of his latest film Hacksaw Ridge.

Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive America’s Medal of Honour after saving the lives of 75 men on a Japanese battlefield without carrying a gun.

“They’re both men of conviction who were willing to die for what they believed,” Gibson said.

“But Desmond was the pacifist, he wouldn’t take another life, whereas Wallace was a butcher. He’d light people on fire.

“Desmond was far more evolved in solving the world’s problems.”

Hacksaw Ridge, which is up for five Baftas next month, marked Gibson’s return to directing for the first time in a decade following a string of controversies in recent years including his controversial anti-Semitic rant in 2006.

The Lethal Weapon actor said he decided to return to work as a director because Hacksaw Ridge was a “story well worth telling”.

“It’s a war film but it’s beyond that, it’s a love story,” he said.

“It’s a man who goes to war with his core belief - love. He wants to help others and he considers others more important than himself. So in that way he’s selfless, he sacrifices and he surely did.

“He saved many and the inspirational aspect of the story is huge so why wouldn’t I tell a story like that? It’s the pinnacle of heroism.”

Hacksaw Ridge is released in UK cinemas on January 27.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/second-independence-referendum-weeks-from-being-called-1-4370810","id":"1.4370810","articleHeadline": "Second independence referendum ‘weeks from being called’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697422000 ,"articleLead": "

A prominent Scottish independence campaign group has launched a new fundraising drive as it expects a second referendum to be held in May or September next year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370809.1487697401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has said another independence referendum is "highly likely". Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

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

Business for Scotland, which focused on the economic case for independence, said it is getting “back in full campaign mode” for a vote in 2018.

Group founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp emailed members to say “we are only weeks away” from a second referendum being called, according to the Sunday Herald.

A Yes vote in a future referendum is now the favourite with bookmakers William Hill offering odds of 8/11 on independence by 2024.

Nicola Sturgeon has said another independence referendum is ‘’highly likely’’ after a majority of Scots voted to stay in the European Union while the UK as a whole opted for Brexit.

In his message to supporters, Mr MacIntyre-Kemp said: “Business for Scotland was a vital contributor to the growth of the Yes vote in 2014. We need your help to renew the business and economic case for independence and drive Yes support to the levels required to call and win Indyref2.

“We didn’t go away, instead we have kept on campaigning for independence and we also campaigned for a Remain vote in the EU referendum.

“We are getting ready for Indyref2 in May or September 2018 and so we are back in full campaign mode.

“Please back us to renew the business and economic case for independence, drive Yes support to the levels required to trigger, and then win Indyref2.”

Almost a third of the £15,000 target has already been raised in the online fundraiser.

A prominent Scottish independence campaign group has launched a new fundraising drive as it expects a second referendum to be held in May or September next year.

Business for Scotland, which focused on the economic case for independence, said it is getting “back in full campaign mode” for a vote in 2018.

Group founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp emailed members to say “we are only weeks away” from a second referendum being called, according to the Sunday Herald.

A Yes vote in a future referendum is now the favourite with bookmakers William Hill offering odds of 8/11 on independence by 2024.

Nicola Sturgeon has said another independence referendum is ‘’highly likely’’ after a majority of Scots voted to stay in the European Union while the UK as a whole opted for Brexit.

In his message to supporters, Mr MacIntyre-Kemp said: “Business for Scotland was a vital contributor to the growth of the Yes vote in 2014. We need your help to renew the business and economic case for independence and drive Yes support to the levels required to call and win Indyref2.

“We didn’t go away, instead we have kept on campaigning for independence and we also campaigned for a Remain vote in the EU referendum.

“We are getting ready for Indyref2 in May or September 2018 and so we are back in full campaign mode.

“Please back us to renew the business and economic case for independence, drive Yes support to the levels required to trigger, and then win Indyref2.”

Almost a third of the £15,000 target has already been raised in the online fundraiser.

READ MORE - Alex Salmond admits business rate rise ‘a genuine concern’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PAUL WARD"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370809.1487697401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370809.1487697401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has said another independence referendum is "highly likely". Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has said another independence referendum is "highly likely". Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370809.1487697401!/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/william-hill-first-bookies-to-back-yes-vote-for-indyref2-1-4370963","id":"1.4370963","articleHeadline": "William Hill first bookies to back Yes vote for Indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697398000 ,"articleLead": "

William Hill has become the first bookmakers to back Yes as the likely outcome of a second Scottish independence referendum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370962.1487697377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The bookies has put odds of a vote in favour of the UK splitting by 2024 at 8/11.

A No vote sits at evens.

Former First Minister called the bookmaker’s prediction “more significant than any opinion poll.”

He added: “This is the first time I can remember independence being odds on favourite.

“It doesn’t make it a cert, but bookies tend not to throw their money away.”

Top pollster Professor John Curtice said it was not an “unreasonable bet” but added: “I don’t think the fact a bookie has made it odds on favourite means it’s going to happen.”

Ladbrokes, bookmaker rivals to William Hill are backing a No vote.

A William Hill spokesman said: “We are pretty sure there will be another referendum by 2024. And we think by then, it’s likely Scotland will vote yes.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Amy Watson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370962.1487697377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370962.1487697377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370962.1487697377!/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/tom-peterkin-irish-eyes-smiled-on-sturgeon-but-life-is-more-complex-1-4305556","id":"1.4305556","articleHeadline": "Tom Peterkin: Irish eyes smiled on Sturgeon but life is more complex","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697354000 ,"articleLead": "

Irish politicians may have backed Scottish independence but it is not that simple for the First Minister, writes Tom Peterkin

" ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister’s appearance as the first serving head of a foreign government in front of Ireland’s Seanad was a bit of a love-in.

Had a stranger from a distant land dropped into the session unaware of the close and enduring bonds between Scotland and Ireland, they would certainly have been very much the wiser after their visit.

Gaelic rang out across the chamber as Irish politicians spoke of the close cultural and linguistic ties between the two nations.

Sturgeon did her bit by quoting the Scottish Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean’s account of the Celtic bonds across the Irish Sea.

Though the First Minister stuck to the English translation when she recalled MacLean’s description of “the humanity that the oceans could not break – that a thousand years has not severed”.

Her charm offensive also included a reference to the Book of Kells, the ancient illuminated manuscript thought to have been created in Iona before making Ireland its permanent home.

According to Sturgeon, seeing the masterpiece for the first time on her Irish trip had been a “truly moving reminder of just how deeply and inextricably linked the peoples and culture of Ireland and Scotland have always been”.

These links were in turn celebrated by Irish politicians, with some keen to emphasise more modern common ground. For example, Rose Conway-Walsh of Sinn Fein was keen to highlight the contribution of two Scottish “iconic revolutionaries” to the Easter Rising of 100-years ago. She was referring to James Connolly, the Edinburgh-born socialist who was executed for helping lead the Rising, and Margaret Skinnider, the teacher turned sniper from Coatbridge who opened fire on British soldiers after travelling to Dublin to take part in the rebellion of 1916.

Of course, harking back to a bloody rebellion that was the prelude to a civil war and which strengthened the role of the gun in Irish politics is not always a comfortable fit with the sort of civic nationalism which the SNP claims to be a paragon of.

Comparing the Scottish situation with the Ireland of the early part of the 20th century was more Alex Salmond’s style than Nicola Sturgeon’s. It was not so long ago that Salmond borrowed from WB Yeats’ famous poetic homage to the rising “Easter 1916” to describe the situation Scotland finds itself in.

In his November 2014 resignation speech Salmond said Scotland had “changed utterly”. The phrase was interpreted as the departing first minister saying that independence would eventually come, despite the No vote.

A couple of years before that, Salmond used a visit to Dublin to draw a parallel between Ireland before it became independent in 1921 and the “bullying” he claimed Scotland was receiving at the hands of Westminster politicians.

His remarks did not go down well in Northern Ireland, where figures on both sides of the political divide criticised Salmond. It was the veteran moderate nationalist Seamus Mallon who said British/Irish relations were a great deal more complex than Salmond appeared to suggest. Mallon pointed out that many Scots were members of the Black and Tans, the violent British militia sent to Ireland after the First World War to suppress the struggle for independence.

Much sweeter music to Sturgeon’s ears than Conway-Walsh’s republican reflections on a troubled past would have been the wholehearted and passionate endorsement of her battle for Scottish independence that came from senators from a variety of parties and none.

Referring to the independence vote, Catherine Ardagh of Fianna Fail said: “While it was not to be in 2014, Scotland’s day will come.”

And Michael MacDowell, the former deputy prime minister of Ireland, said: “I wholly and unambiguously support Scotland’s movement for national independence.

“Many people have queried the value of independence. For this country, independence has been a remarkably transforming thing. I have no doubt that the genius of the Scottish people – once released through full independence – will achieve the same for Scotland.”

But as the praise rang out across Leinster House, Sturgeon’s critics claimed the First Minister was only using her visit to drum up support for Scottish independence.

It will not be lost on the First Minister that beyond the independence rhetoric there was little support for her other option of protecting Scotland’s relationship with the EU within the UK.

Ireland’s foreign minister Charlie Flanagan shied away from endorsing that option and restricted 
himself to talking about being “helpful and constructive towards issues relating to Scotland”. The former Taoiseach John Bruton was more blunt. He described the possibility of Scotland staying in the single market if the UK as a whole leaves as technically, administratively and politically nearly impossible.

That would appear to leave independence as Sturgeon’s best Brexit option. But with a YouGov poll yesterday putting support for a Yes vote at just 44 per cent, the difficulty for the First Minister is that support for Scottish independence at home does not match the enthusiasm for it in the Irish Seanad.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/outlander-star-sam-heughan-voices-support-for-indyref2-1-4371778","id":"1.4371778","articleHeadline": "Outlander star Sam Heughan voices support for indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697306000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish actor Sam Heughan has taken to Twitter to voice his support for indyref2.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish actor Sam Heughan. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Heughan was responding yesterday to an article tweeted by The Economist calling independence ‘a gamble’ when he appeared to lend his support for a second vote.

The Economist article included an image depicting a bare-chested Tartan Army fan, draped in a Saltire and wearing a Tam O’ Shanter hat.

He retweeted the article, adding ‘Maybe a gamble is needed to move forward for the country? Finally, escape age-old stereotypying and cliché, as portrayed in similar photos?”

It follows a similar tweet after the results of the EU referendum were announced, when Heughan wrote: “Looks like Scotland wants to remain and rest UK wants to go... Time for another independence referendum?”

It’s not the first time the Outlander star has voiced his support for Scottish independence.

Heughan was very active prior to the independence referendum vote in 2014, regularly posting messages and images of support on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that she would announce indyref2 in the coming weeks if Scotland’s relationship with the EU was put at risk by a hard Brexit.

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Angus Howarth"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish actor Sam Heughan. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish actor Sam Heughan. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/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/bbc-chief-set-to-dismiss-scottish-six-calls-1-4370806","id":"1.4370806","articleHeadline": "BBC chief set to dismiss Scottish Six calls","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697289000 ,"articleLead": "

The Director General of the BBC is expected to rule out replacing the corporation’s flagship TV news broadcast with a ‘Scottish Six’ when he appears before MSPs this week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370805.1487697269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BBC Director General Tony Hall"} ,"articleBody": "

Reports suggest Tony Hall will dash hopes for a new hour-long flagship BBC news programme, produced in Scotland and covering domestic and international affairs, despite commissioning pilots to explore the idea.

Calls have been made for a Scottish programme to replace the UK-wide News at Six over the past two decades, but have provoked controversy over fears the broadcast could undermine the Union.

The BBC has examined several options for a Scottish Six in a bid to address concerns about the strength of its Scottish news output, but reports suggest some of these have performed poorly with focus groups and have failed to impress the corporation’s executives.

It is not clear whether Lord Hall will push ahead with less extensive proposals for Scottish TV news, which have also been tested.

The latest bid for an hour-long Scottish Six was boosted last year when MPs on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee gave it cross-party political backing for the first time.

However, the UK Government dampened expectations when in set out the latest BBC charter, with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley saying the corporation had to “reflect the national mood and the national news”.

SNP MP John Nicolson, a former BBC journalist who sits on the Commons committee, accused the corporation of have a “cloth ear” on Scottish issues and claimed it was stuck in a “1970s time warp”.

He said: “If the BBC decide not to go ahead with the Scottish Six it will represent an extraordinary lack of ambition and commitment to Scotland.

“I will be very disappointed for the staff at BBC Scotland if the long planned launch does not go ahead.

“They have been working incredibly hard on pilot programmes and appear to have been led up the hill and back down again by their management.”

A poll last year found that 63% of respondents wanted to keep the current arrangement, with 30 minutes of Scottish news following the UK-wide News at Six. However, a separate poll this month suggested one third of viewers believe the BBC’s output is biased against Scottish independence. The new director of BBC Scotland, Donalda MacKinnon, has said part of her job will be to win back the “significant number still in Scotland whose trust we lost” during the 2014 independence referendum.

A Scottish Government source told journalists that a failure to commission a Scottish Six would be “a major missed opportunity”. A BBC spokesperson said it would announce its plans shortly.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4370805.1487697269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4370805.1487697269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BBC Director General Tony Hall","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BBC Director General Tony Hall","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4370805.1487697269!/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-blair-should-keep-his-counsel-to-himself-1-4371108","id":"1.4371108","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: Blair should keep his counsel to himself","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697236000 ,"articleLead": "

Just as Charles de Gaulle’s large nose and ears were of no consequence to him being the last great Frenchman, so Tony Blair’s perma tan does not impinge on his ability to fashion a reasoned argument. The former prime minister’s lectures, after dinner speeches and consultancies with corporate lobbyists, banks and well-meaning institutes do not mean his comments on Brexit are driven by self-interest to remain in sight of the public eye, maintain brand-Blair and earn millions of dollars as a consequence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371106.1487697212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Unwanted: Tony Blair should keep his opinions to himself PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The personal criticism by commentators and those on social media do not mean his views cannot be as honest and objective as the next man’s.

What the three times-elected and never defeated former prime minister has to say about the United Kingdom leaving the European Union is always likely to attract attention, and in Scotland’s case what he has to say about independence will undoubtedly receive the same level of interest. His arguments should be treated on their merit, and on that basis thoroughly and unequivocally dismissed as not just wrong but dangerously foolish.

It is not Brexit that has made the case for Scottish independence more credible, it has been the reckless constitutional reforms of Tony Blair that brought the once distant possibility close to reality. It has been his wilful refusal to recognise the detrimental impact of his progressive policies on so many of his own former voters that contributed to Brexit happening. Likewise, it is the continuing self-delusion of Blair and others who will not accept the democratic outcome of the EU referendum that fans the flames of nationalism by giving succour to the SNP nursing a fabricated grievance.

When Blair gave his Open Europe speech and further interviews last week, he called on people to rise up to reverse the Brexit vote. His disrespect for the most momentous and convincing of political deliberations by Britain since universal suffrage was obtained is no different from the repeated disrespect shown to the Edinburgh Agreement by the past and current First Ministers of Scotland.

Tony Blair believes he was right to warn Scotland would have a case for a further independence referendum were there a Leave vote, but this is nothing other than self-endorsement of a flawed analysis, for no such case exists.

David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership if he were to command a majority in the 2015 general election as far back as January 2013 – 18 months before the Scottish independence referendum. Then, only five months later in June, the Conservatives published a Referendum Bill. It passed its first and second readings in the House of Commons but was stopped in the House of Lords.

It should therefore have been obvious to everyone that had a vote in the 2014 Scottish referendum that there could be an EU membership referendum – not least because the SNP government pointed out this risk in its own White Paper as one of the consequences of Scotland staying in the UK.

When the Conservative’s general election victory arrived it was duly announced that the promised referendum would take place and that it would be a UK-wide decision with no veto for any city such as London or nation such as Scotland. There has been no material change of circumstance for what had been promised and known – the EU referendum was always probable and the outcome of Brexit always possible.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may project her own spin on to the referendum result to whip up sentiment for her divisive case, but the reality is that Scots chose the United Kingdom in full possession of the facts of what might happen down the road.

When it comes to putting the Union at peril it is Tony Blair who should stand in the dock. It was Blair that ushered in a form of devolution that, as many of us predicted, would only fan the flames of nationalism, especially once a Conservative government was returned to office at Westminster. Rather than kill the SNP “stone dead”, we have ended up with three SNP administrations and an independence referendum that saw nationalists achieve 45 per cent support.

It was Tony Blair who, by the manner of his own foreign policy interventions, poisoned the well of public trust in British politicians that has contributed to the disconnect between the electorate and their political representatives. It was also Tony Blair who, in turning a Nelsonian eye to the concerns of so many ordinary people about the effects of the mass EU immigration upon their standards of living and the public services that they relied upon that encouraged them to believe Brexit was necessary to “take back control”.

Now Mr Blair tells us the case for Scottish independence is more credible when it is less so. If leaving the EU’s Single Market is so bad that it should be avoided at all costs then leaving the UK’s single market – worth four times as much to Scotland – must be a more credible threat to our prosperity. With the UK now resolved to negotiate a Brexit that means controls on commercial regulations, tariffs, the judiciary and our borders being recovered for our own representatives to decide upon then any separation by Scotland from the UK must mean the erection of new barriers between us that do not currently exist.

Likewise, were an independent Scotland to renegotiate EU membership – as the advocates of independence insist is vital – then we would be confronted with terms more costly and onerous than currently enjoyed. There are the questions of the Thatcher rebate (that Blair infamously reduced), the Schengen open border agreement, membership of the euro, the need to reduce the Scottish deficit (requiring austerity the likes of which we have never seen), the return of fishing controls to Brussels and the inability to conduct trade agreements. It is possible some compromises could be obtained but not on all issues, something would have to give making membership less attractive – meaning independence would be less credible.

There is no demographic group where Tony Blair is now popular and even among Remain voters and Labour supporters his unpopularity is embarrassingly high. If he truly believes in the unity of the UK and in fostering a better relationship with Europe then he would be better keeping his counsel to himself and leaving the arguments to a new generation without his record for getting things wrong.

l Brian Monteith is a director of Global Britain

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371106.1487697212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371106.1487697212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Unwanted: Tony Blair should keep his opinions to himself PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Unwanted: Tony Blair should keep his opinions to himself PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371106.1487697212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371107.1487697215!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371107.1487697215!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tony Blair urged Britons who support the European Union to "rise up" and persuade Brexit voters to change their mind about leaving the bloc in a high-profile speech. Picture AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tony Blair urged Britons who support the European Union to "rise up" and persuade Brexit voters to change their mind about leaving the bloc in a high-profile speech. Picture AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371107.1487697215!/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/paris-gourtsoyannis-labour-will-struggle-to-win-over-scotland-1-4371928","id":"1.4371928","articleHeadline": "Paris Gourtsoyannis: Labour will struggle to win over Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487697199000 ,"articleLead": "

The Labour leader will struggle to deliver a convincing message in Scotland, says Paris Gourtsoyannis

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn faces a double by-election challenge this week which risks further embarrassment. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

This week, the worst job in politics belongs to Jeremy Corbyn’s speechwriter. The Labour leader will stand up in front of the Scottish party conference in Perth this weekend to deliver what in times past would have been a rallying call ahead of local elections in May. But any attempt to imagine what message Corbyn can deliver to his dwindling Scottish troops conjures little more than a blank page.

UK polling shows Labour languishing as much as 18 points behind the Conservatives, even as Theresa May navigates the most contentious issue to face any government since the war, leading a divided country and a tiny Commons majority.

Corbyn’s speech in Perth has already been pushed back from the start of the Scottish Labour conference to its last day to limit the fall-out from by-election results in Copeland and Stoke, where Labour runs the risk of an unprecedented double embarrassment for an opposition.

But there is no rescheduling that can delay the humiliating third act in Labour’s Scottish collapse that will inevitably follow, when it is crushed in council elections in May by both the SNP and the Conservatives. The mood music isn’t good.

Pick any policy issue and the chances are good that Corbyn is not only at odds with many of his own MPs, but with much of the Scottish party and its leader, too. On Brexit that split has been decisive, with the two party chiefs ordering their parliamentarians to vote in opposite ways on legislation to trigger the UK’s exit from the EU. In last summer’s leadership challenge, Scotland was reported to be the only place where Owen Smith came out on top, so Corbyn’s support among the membership isn’t what it is elsewhere, either.

So, what on earth will he say? In a quieter moment, as Corbyn stares at that blank page, perhaps he will wish he could give the speech delivered recently by one of his predecessors.

In a press conference last week Tony Blair did something no Labour politician has managed since the EU referendum – and you could argue that few managed it during the campaign, either. He made a clear, coherent argument for Britain’s place in Europe, and managed to get some TV cameras and microphones pointed at him while he did it.

Brexit is not one tough decision but a series of them, Blair argued. “If we were in a rational world, we would all the time, as we approach those decisions, be asking: why are we doing this and as we know more of the costs, is the pain worth the gain?”

Jeremy Corbyn, one of Blair’s most visceral critics, might ponder that before venturing to Remain-voting Scotland. All Out War, the excellent and definitive account of the EU referendum campaign by journalist Tim Shipman, recounts in depressing detail how the current Labour leader’s disinterest allowed the left-wing case for Europe to wither on the vine. It was less a conspiracy than surly, bureaucratic cowardice: campaign emails went without reply, press events unattended, speeches and statements stripped of a few lines here and there to rob them of any power. Labour’s opposition since the vote has been scarcely more effective.

The reasons why many people, including a good number of Labour supporters, cannot trust or stand Tony Blair need no repetition. Many of those reasons have merit, even if much of the hatred towards him has become performed and instinctive. On Europe, in particular, it is fair to approach with caution Blair’s claim that Brexit will not significantly reduce net migration, given his own government’s record on the issue – although on the facts alone, he is absolutely right.

But if Labour’s fallen idol has stepped back into the firing line, it isn’t because he relishes the abuse from newspapers and the left and right. Nor has he set up a think-tank to combat populism because he has tired of the conveyor belt of money from consulting for dubious regimes and corporations.

It’s because he sees the opening left by Corbyn when the current Labour leader decided to wait and see which way the EU referendum went, and follow its lead rather than leading himself.

The post-Brexit assumption has been that Labour’s pro-EU stance in the referendum, no matter how quietly expressed, had alienated large swathes of its northern, working class supporters, who are now at risk of being picked off by Ukip. Shipman documents how Corbyn’s office believed that by keeping a low profile during the campaign, the Labour leader would be on the side of the country if the result was to Leave.

That logic would have us believe that Labour’s refusal to take a more robust stance on Brexit will help it in places like Copeland, where 62 per cent of voters backed Leave, and Stoke-on-Trent Central, where the Leave vote was even higher at 69 per cent. Indeed, there is a quiet confidence in Labour that it can see off the Ukip threat in Stoke and may even hold on to both constituencies.

If they do, however, to credit Corbyn’s Brexit stance for the victories would be to learn the wrong lesson. While Labour’s support has been split by the EU referendum, it hasn’t been split evenly, as polling guru John Curtice pointed out in a blog post at the weekend.

Analysing figures from the latest British Election Survey, Curtice reminded Labour watchers that a majority of the party’s supporters are believed to have voted Remain last year – including across Leave-voting parts of England. In the north, 57 per cent backed the EU.

Curtice concluded that unless Corbyn works just as hard to keep their support as he does the minority that voted Leave, Labour’s fortunes look bleak. Whether the Labour leader has in fact made altogether the wrong choice in chasing a constituency that has already drifted to Ukip remains to be seen.

In Scotland, according to Curtice’s analysis, two thirds of Labour voters backed Remain last year. Their party now faces a looming battle to convince them that, contrary to Tony Blair’s warning last week, the case for Scottish independence is not “much more credible” in the wake of Brexit. When he stands behind the podium in Perth, Corbyn would do well to recognise that.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn faces a double by-election challenge this week which risks further embarrassment. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn faces a double by-election challenge this week which risks further embarrassment. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/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/willie-rennie-snp-will-sell-out-eu-for-indy-dreams-1-4372083","id":"1.4372083","articleHeadline": "Willie Rennie: SNP will sell out EU for indy dreams","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487670250000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP is prepared to “sell out Europe” for independence, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie . Picture: John Devlin."} ,"articleBody": "

He argued the party’s commitment to the European Union has been “compromised” amid growing speculation the SNP is preparing to announce a second referendum within weeks.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said a second independence ballot was “highly likely” following the Brexit vote.

It has been reported that her party is preparing to drop full membership of the EU as a key part of its independence case, and instead push for a Norway-style model which would allow Scotland to remain in the single market via the European Free Trade Area and European Economic Agreement.

During a speech at the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh, Mr Rennie said the move is an attempt to appease independence supporters who voted to leave the EU.

The Lib Dems are pursuing a Brexit deal referendum, which they say would allow voters the chance to change their minds if they do not like the arrangements agreed between the EU and the UK Government at the end of their negotiations.

“Independence is not the economic or the emotional answer to Brexit,” Mr Rennie said.

“I will continue to stand for Scotland in the UK as much as the UK in the EU. I will not compromise on deep rooted principles of internationalism, openness and liberalism.

“The Scottish National Party’s commitment to the EU has been compromised.

“You haven’t heard any senior nationalist say ‘the only way to keep Scotland in the EU is to have independence’.

“They used to say that all the time. Now they don’t. They now say that their dissatisfaction with the UK Government ‘transcends the issue of Europe’.

“We, perhaps, should not be surprised as one third of their supporters favoured Brexit.

“I meet them every week on the doorsteps. Brexit supporters who backed independence in 2014 but are opposed now because of the independence in Europe policy.

“Desperate to keep the significant branch of Brexiteers in their own party in line they are prepared to sell out Europe to get their dream of independence.

“So the risk of their proposal is that it leaves Scotland outside the UK and outside the EU. What a disaster that would be.

“It would only be right for the British people to have the final say on whatever deal is agreed by the Conservative Government with the EU.

“A Brexit deal referendum would be the right and democratic thing to do.

“When they look back at this time, our grandchildren will be perplexed that we did not take our time and ask ourselves the question if we really wanted this.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lyndsey Bews"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie . Picture: John Devlin.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie . Picture: John Devlin.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1487268344374"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/david-mundell-no-circumstances-where-scotland-can-remain-in-eu-1-4372077","id":"1.4372077","articleHeadline": "David Mundell: No circumstances where Scotland can remain in EU","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487660564000 ,"articleLead": "

There are no circumstances in which Scotland can remain in the EU when the UK leaves, the Scottish Secretary will tell MSPs this week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell speaks on the third day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

David Mundell is due to give evidence to the Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee tomorrow.

The Conservative MP will use his appearance at Parliament to state that Scotland will leave the EU with the UK at the end of the Brexit process.

He will say in his opening statement: “I think it is important to be clear, that Scotland will not be in the EU at the end of this process. There is no set of circumstances in which Scotland could remain a member of the EU after the rest of the UK has left.

“If Scotland’s constitutional position were ever to change, it would have to apply to be a member of the EU afresh – and we should not make easy assumptions about the length of time this would take.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a second referendum on independence is “highly likely” following the Brexit vote.

Responding to Mr Mundell’s comments, a spokesman for Scotland’s Brexit minister SNP MSP Michael Russell said: “Scotland faces being dragged out of Europe against its will by a Tory government with just one MP out of 59 in Scotland, “David Mundell – seems totally oblivious to the irony of him seeking to lay down the law.” on what should happen next.”

“The Scottish Government has put forward compromise proposals to keep Scotland in the single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone - but that compromise has not been matched by the UK Government.

“Scotland is now faced with a right-wing Tory government we didn’t vote for intent on taking us off a hard Brexit cliff edge which would be catastrophic for jobs and livelihoods.

“The Tories now clearly think they can do what they want to Scotland and people will simply accept it - but the Scottish Government is determined to stand up for Scotland’s democratic voice and we will pursue every necessary option to protect our place in Europe.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell speaks on the third day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell speaks on the third day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/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-comment-cautious-welcome-for-business-rates-change-1-4371934","id":"1.4371934","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Cautious welcome for business rates change","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487656800000 ,"articleLead": "

With less than six weeks to go before the new rateable values of Scotland’s businesses come into effect, there is still time for the Scottish Government to listen to the growing chorus of opposition. Misgivings over the increases in non-domestic rates have been voiced for several weeks now, with small companies in particular warning that they could go out of business.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay is to announce "further support for business and the Scottish economy"."} ,"articleBody": "

But in recent days, the argument against the rises has intensified and gained momentum. Most damagingly for the SNP, they have emanated from the party’s supposed allies.

At the weekend, former first minister Alex Salmond conceded that some companies have a “very legitimate” case against the hikes, particularly in the north-east of the country.

Now, the pro-independence group, Business for Scotland, has joined the fray, with its chief executive, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, urging the government to intervene with a “robust set of rates relief measures” that will protect those firms hardest hit by the rate rises.

Such a step, he reasons, would be the best way of protecting jobs and promoting economic growth. It is an alluring argument by itself, but given it comes from a organisation that has traditionally shown nothing but support for the government, it becomes even more difficult for those in power to ignore.

Until yesterday, finance secretary Derek Mackay has repeatedly said he will not intervene to ease the impact of the increases, insisting any such scheme should be provided by local authorities. He of all people must have known that advocating such a measure was a cop out, given the straitened finances of Scotland’s councils, but some in local government called his bluff, with Aberdeenshire Council announcing a consultation on how to structure a relief scheme, while warning that any reductions will directly impact on the budget for frontline services.

This flurry of activity has perhaps inspired Mr Mackay to change tack. Today, we are told, he intends to outline a further package of support to help certain businesses “better deal with the impact of the forthcoming revaluation”.

The devil will be in the detail and the business community will no doubt wait and see what he has to propose before declaring victory. At the start of this month, it seemed inconceivable that the Scottish Government would consider a rethink, but if it cannot convince its own supporters that the new scheme is appropriate, it seems change or amendment is necessary.

It is encouraging that Mr Mackay at least appears to have taken notice of the criticism. He and the Scottish Government must surely realise that ploughing ahead in the face of such opposition would be an error.

To some extent, the government’s record on the Scottish economy can be explained by austerity and the general economic climate beyond these shores. But with the prospect of a devolved policy having a direct, negative effect on the country, there can be no excuses.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay is to announce "further support for business and the Scottish economy".","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay is to announce "further support for business and the Scottish economy".","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}