{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"uk","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/uk-economy-slowdown-worse-than-feared-as-sales-fall-1-4432009","id":"1.4432009","articleHeadline": "UK economy slowdown worse than feared as sales fall","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493371330000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK economy endured a worse-than-expected slowdown in the first three months of the year as sliding retail sales and a jump in living costs took their toll on growth.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.3 per cent in its initial estimate for the first quarter of 2017, down from 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said today’s figures, which represent the slowest expansion since the first quarter of 2016, when growth was 0.2 per cent, marked a “significant dent” to UK economy’s resilience.

• READ MORE: Cost of living fears mount as inflation hits 2.3%

He added: “Following the marked first-quarter slowdown, we suspect that 2017 will stay challenging for the UK economy – and particularly for consumers as their purchasing power is squeezed harder still.

“We expect GDP growth to be limited to 1.6 per cent in 2017 – this is a below consensus forecast, but the poor first-quarter performance reinforces our jaundiced view on the economy. We do not expect the snap general election on 8 June to materially change the economic outlook for this year, assuming that the Conservatives are re-elected with an increased majority.

Economists had been expecting the economy to cool as consumers tightened their belts in the face of rising inflation, but they had pencilled in a growth reading of 0.4 per cent.

The ONS said the main driver behind the slowdown was a sharp decline in the dominant services sector, which saw its growth more than halved to 0.3 per cent, down from 0.8 per cent in the final three months of last year.

It added: “There were falls in several important consumer-focused industries, such as retail sales and accommodation; this was due in part to prices increasing more than spending.”

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

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: “Rising inflation and slow wage growth have dampened consumer demand and reduced retail spending, which were helping drive growth last year after Britain’s vote to leave the EU. On the other hand though, the increased attractiveness of sterling in the wake of the referendum has boosted manufacturing and international exports, making headway in rebalancing the UK economy.

“With the general election just around the corner and Brexit negotiations afoot, any dip in the economy risks bringing further caution and uncertainty to businesses, which has a knock-on effect when it comes to investment and employment. However the Chancellor, with better-than-expected Budget tax receipts in his pocket, has room for manoeuvre and should be able to pre-empt any further slowdown, which should help with business confidence.”

GDP comment from Royal Bank of Scotland

The UK economy grew by just 0.3 per cent in the first three months of 2017, writes RBS senior economist Sebastian Burnside. What should we make of this slowdown?

It’s certainly slow. Slower than the 0.5 per cent expected by the Bank of England. Slower than the 0.7 per cent the UK managed at the end of last year. But it also might just herald a more sustainable pace, given the challenges facing the economy.

In the nine months since the Brexit vote, the economy is now 1.5 per cent bigger. That growth has been uneven. The strength seen in Q4’s 0.7 per cent expansion has been offset by the 0.3 per cent recorded at the start of this year. So overall, growing at an average pace of 0.5 per cent a quarter is very respectable.

But a slowdown is already with us. Inflation is now matching wage growth, meaning the purchasing power of people’s pay packets has stopped growing.

The most obvious sign of this weakness is on the high street. Spending by shoppers has stagnated after an especially strong final three months of 2016. Rising prices have meant they’re actually taking even less home in real terms than they were before Christmas. The ONS thinks that this alone knocked 0.1 per cent off GDP growth.

Slower consumer spending might actually a good thing. Borrowing through personal loans and credit cards is rising at around 10 per cent a year.

Households actually spent £5.8 billion more than they earned in Q4 last year. Neither of these trends can last forever. A bit of belt tightening would put growth on a more sustainable footing.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gareth Mackie and Ben Woods"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/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/uk/scots-surgeon-guilty-of-performing-needless-breast-operations-1-4432686","id":"1.4432686","articleHeadline": "Scots surgeon guilty of performing needless breast operations","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493405629000 ,"articleLead": "

A Scottish-born breast surgeon has been convicted of carrying out a series of “completely unnecessary” operations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots-born surgeon Ian Patersons operations saw hundreds of patients recalled and dozens receiving payouts from the NHS. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Ian Paterson was described in court by one victim as being “like God”, lying to patients and exaggerating or inventeing the risk of cancer to convince them to go under the knife.

The 59-year-old did so for “obscure motives” which may have included a desire to “earn extra money”, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

After a seven-week trial, Paterson was convicted yesterday by a jury on 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding.

Judge Jeremy Baker released Paterson on conditional bail ahead of sentencing next month. The maximum sentence for wounding with intent is life.

The surgeon, originally from Glasgow, had maintained that all the operations were necessary – but a jury of six men and five women agreed with the prosecution that Paterson carried out “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.

Patersonsobbed as the foreman of the jury returned the guilty verdicts, as did his daughter Emily, who was also in court.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC spoke of 20 unnecessary operations causing “really serious harm” to nine women and a man, saying they fell “quite outside the realms of reasonable surgery”.

Frances Perks, whose mother and sister died from breast cancer, was advised to undergo a series of operations, fearing she could develop “full-blown cancer”.

She said: “I think he’s a psychopath. Why would anyone in their right mind do operations to people knowing that they didn’t need them? My feelings towards him is I hate him with a passion. You wouldn’t be able to print what I truly think of him and what I would like to see happen to him.

“But I hope he goes down for a very long time and I hope he has a dreadful time in prison and hope he rots in hell.”

There are fears he could have thousands of other victims and dozens of women have already received payouts for treatment after settling civil claims.

Jurors were told at the start of the trial they should not conduct any research into the case – and were not told that hundreds of Paterson’s patients were recalled in 2012 after concerns about unnecessary or incomplete operations.

The surgeon was suspended by the General Medical Council that same year amid claims he carried out so-called cleavage-sparing mastectomies (CSMs) which led to the recall of more than 700 patients.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALEXANDER BRITTON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scots-born surgeon Ian Patersons operations saw hundreds of patients recalled and dozens receiving payouts from the NHS. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots-born surgeon Ian Patersons operations saw hundreds of patients recalled and dozens receiving payouts from the NHS. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432685.1493405624!/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/uk/sturgeon-s-eu-plans-rejected-over-risk-of-uk-trade-barriers-1-4432382","id":"1.4432382","articleHeadline": "Sturgeon’s EU plans rejected over risk of UK trade barriers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493393924000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK Government rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU because it would create trade barriers and cause “significant disruption” of the UK internal market.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis"} ,"articleBody": "

The rationale for the UK Government’s decision not to adopt the economic models proposed by the First Minister in her “Scotland’s Place in Europe” document came to light in a letter written by Brexit Secretary David Davis.

In the letter, Mr Davis also expressed dismay that the Scottish Government called for a second referendum before he had properly discussed Nicola Sturgeon’s plan.

Mr Davis was responding to Ms Sturgeon’s hefty paper, published in December which set out detailed proposals of how Scotland could protect trade and freedom of movement after Brexit.

Mr Davis’s letter was written in March, but remained under wraps until it was published on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

The letter said UK Government officials has undertaken a “programme of intensive discussions” to understand Ms Sturgeon’s proposals.

• READ MORE: Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP, predicts new poll

Ms Sturgeon looked at a range of possibilities including the possibility of Scotland becoming a full or associate member of the European Free Trade Association to maintain its place in the Single Market, in the event of the UK going for a hard Brexit.

Mr Davis said his officials had been engaged in “a substantive programme of work” and added: “I am disappointed that the Scottish Government has called for another referendum on independence before we were able to discuss the outcomes of this joint work that was entered into good faith.”

On the detail of Ms Sturgeon’s paper, Mr Davis said: “There are clear barriers to making your proposals a reality. Scotland’s accession to EFTA, and then the EEA (European Economic Area), would not be deliverable and, importantly, would require the consent of all EFTA and EU member states.

“Any divergence between EU and UK law -as a result, perhaps of new EU regulation- could lead to the creation of new barriers to trade within our Union, which could take the form of additional controls and checks on trade within the United Kingdom.”

• READ MORE: Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland

Mr Davis added: “Given that trade with the rest of the UK is worth four times trade with the EU, I do not believe that such significant disruption to the internal UK market is in Scotland’s – or the UK’s – best interests.

“And Scotland’s businesses could face a confusing mix of regulatory regimes.”

The four page letter claims the UK and Scottish Governments have many common objectives, but it warned that Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for membership of the EU Single Market cannot be met.

“The Scottish Government and the UK Government agree that achieving the freest and most frictionless trade with the EU and maintaining the deeply integrated trade and economic relationship with the EU is in both Scotland’s and the UK’s interests,” Mr Davis wrote.

“You have called specifically for membership of the Single Market as the means of delivering that end; as the Prime Minister has made clear, this is simply not possible if we wish to take back control of borders and immigration in the way people in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom desire, nor if we wish to enjoy the supremacy of our domestic courts.

“However we share the same goal in terms of the outcome.”

The Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell has written back to Mr Davis re-stating the “fundamental importance” Ms Sturgeon’s administration places on EU Single Market membership.

Mr Russell added that the Scottish Parliament had “agreed an independence referendum” and complained that there has not been “proper discussion or engagement on the strategic choices we face” with the UK Government.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/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/whitehall-terror-suspect-named-1-4432317","id":"1.4432317","articleHeadline": "Whitehall terror suspect named","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493384863000 ,"articleLead": "

The terror suspect arrested with several knives in Whitehall on Thursday is understood to be Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police arrest a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. Picture; getty"} ,"articleBody": "

It is thought the 27-year-old is a British national who was born overseas and went to school in Tottenham, north London.

The suspect was detained by armed officers after a stop and search in an “intelligence-led” operation.

READ MORE: Knifeman arrested on terror charges in Whitehall

He remains in custody, having been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Terrorism Act and possession of offensive weapons.

Police recovered knives during the swoop, which took place yards from the scene of last month’s deadly attack by Khalid Masood in Westminster.

Reports suggest the suspect was arrested after a concerned family member contacted authorities.

Detectives are continuing to question him, while two searches are being carried out at addresses in London.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police arrest a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. Picture; getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police arrest a man on Whitehall near the Houses of Parliament in central London. Picture; getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432316.1493384857!/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/labour-mps-speak-out-against-trump-state-visit-1-4432084","id":"1.4432084","articleHeadline": "Labour MPs speak out against Trump state visit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493373993000 ,"articleLead": "

Renewed criticism of the planned state visit to Britain by US President Donald Trump has been voiced by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and other politicians.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump."} ,"articleBody": "

In a move timed to coincide with the milestone of Mr Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, a number of parliamentarians have issued a statement criticising Prime Minister Theresa May’s invitation to the president.

It states: “It is deeply regrettable that Theresa May is determined to press ahead with according US President Donald Trump a state visit, ignoring the views of millions of British people.

READ MORE: Donald Trump visit ‘will shift to Scotland to deter protests’

“Racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, war-mongering, climate change denial, attacks on human rights, or policies that will deepen poverty and inequality should not be rewarded or celebrated by our Government.

“Most people in Britain want no part of it. We will continue to oppose this state visit - it is not in our name.”

As well as Ms Abbott, the bid is supported by fellow shadow cabinet member Cat Smith, prominent Labour MPs Dennis Skinner and David Lammy, and Baroness Kinnock.

Spokeswoman for the Stand Up To Trump campaign, Maz Saleem, said: “Trump has already committed numerous war crimes and has massively escalated the bombing in the Middle East - his war-mongering is a threat to the entire world. He has pursued a racist, Islamophobic and otherwise bigoted agenda home and abroad.

“It is vital that we build a broad and sustained movement that maintains the opposition to Trump. Our primary goal is to build the pressure for a cancellation of the state visit, but if it does goes ahead, we will be ready to mobilise on a massive scale.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JEMMA CREW"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/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/ewan-gurr-food-banks-can-fill-a-gap-but-more-cash-is-needed-1-4431226","id":"1.4431226","articleHeadline": "Ewan Gurr: Food banks can fill a gap but more cash is needed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493359257000 ,"articleLead": "

Dundee has been my home for almost two decades. It is known for a lot of things but my organisation – The Trussell Trust – revealed this week that our ­network of foodbanks in Scotland gave out enough food to feed the entire population of my city for at least three days.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431225.1493294441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Food banks hand out more supplies than ever, says Ewan Gurr. Picture Sarah Peters."} ,"articleBody": "

The number of three-day ­supplies distributed to men, women and children topped 145,000 and the reasons underpinning this growing need are even greater cause for concern.

We have seen child psychiatrists lose work due to ill health, redundant oil and gas workers struggling to make ends meet and even a former boxing champion unable to get work coming to our foodbanks. John ­Steinbeck once said that “a sad soul kills quicker than the germ” and there is a great sadness that closes in on the comfortable when circumstances destabilise their financial resilience.

Alex competed for Great Britain in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games in the 1980s and was a British champion. ­Following his sporting success he moved to New Zealand where he was married with children and worked as a HGV driver. He came home to Scotland after his marriage broke down but he struggled to find work and fell into depression, considering ­taking his life before he went to the foodbank. The words of Steinbeck resonate with Alex and many others.

For the first time in our history, The Trussell Trust in Scotland has seen low income become the biggest single issue driving ­people to foodbanks. This is reflected also in all the other parts of the UK. This is unsurprising given recent food price increases and ­benefit delays attributed to the ­rollout of Universal Credit, which is ­crippling families and leading to ­devastating consequences.

William Beveridge, the founder of the welfare state once said: “Adventure came not from the half-starved but those who were well fed enough to feel ambition.” I believe Beveridge wholeheartedly believed in ­flexing the statutory muscle to ensure that social ­security enables social mobility. ­However, there is a ­growing hopelessness in parts of the country where welfare changes intended to ease the ­pressure end up making life more ­difficult.

That pressure is also felt among our foodbank volunteers and managers, without whom the work of preventing starvation and malnutrition across Scotland would grind to a halt. It is in foodbanks where questions are asked about Scottish Government money to support frontline services or the provision of Scottish Welfare Fund ­advisors to get cash in the pockets of poor people.

Council elections and another general election may be on the horizon but the Scottish Government still needs a clear and coherent strategy on tackling hunger and food poverty that can be implemented both at local and national level.

Ewan Gurr is Scotland ­network manager for The ­Trussell Trust, which works with churches to launch foodbanks across the UK.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431225.1493294441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431225.1493294441!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Food banks hand out more supplies than ever, says Ewan Gurr. Picture Sarah Peters.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Food banks hand out more supplies than ever, says Ewan Gurr. Picture Sarah Peters.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431225.1493294441!/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/jailed-marine-freed-after-taliban-killing-1-4431883","id":"1.4431883","articleHeadline": "Jailed marine freed after Taliban killing","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493359120000 ,"articleLead": "

Royal Marine Alexander Blackman, who had his sentence for shooting dead an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan reduced, has been released from prison.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431882.1493359117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, who had his sentence reduced for shooting dead an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. Picture: Andrew Parsons/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The commando, who spent more than three years in jail for killing the insurgent in 2011, left Erlestoke Prison just before 12.20am on Friday.

Blackman hid from cameras as he was driven away from the prison near Devizes, Wiltshire, in the back of a dark Audi estate.

He was originally convicted of murder but this was quashed by the Court Martial Appeal Court and replaced with diminished responsibility manslaughter last month.

Five judges ruled that Blackman was suffering from an “abnormality of mental functioning” at the time of the incident, when he was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando.

READ MORE: Court quashes ‘Marine A’ Taliban murder conviction

His sentence was reduced to seven years, meaning he would be freed within weeks - a decision his wife Claire Blackman described as “the moment that we have all been fighting hard for”.

Speaking to the Daily Mail while awaiting her husband’s release, she said: “I haven’t slept all week. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas. We have had so many setbacks over the years that I almost cannot believe it is really going to happen this time.

“I can’t wait to see him and spend some quality time together.”

Blackman was convicted of murder at Bulford Court Martial in 2013 and jailed for life, with a minimum term of 10 years.

This sentence was later reduced to eight years.

His wife Claire led a campaign for Blackman to be released, which was taken up by the Daily Mail.

In March, his conviction for murder was quashed and replaced with manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

During the original trial in 2013, Blackman was known only as Marine A.

His identity was made public after his conviction.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431882.1493359117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431882.1493359117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, who had his sentence reduced for shooting dead an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. Picture: Andrew Parsons/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, who had his sentence reduced for shooting dead an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. Picture: Andrew Parsons/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431882.1493359117!/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/woman-shot-and-four-arrested-in-anti-terrorism-operation-1-4431881","id":"1.4431881","articleHeadline": "Woman shot and four arrested in anti-terrorism operation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493358516000 ,"articleLead": "

A woman has been shot by police and four people arrested as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism operation in London and Kent.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431880.1493358513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Armed police carried out out a raid. Picture; Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

The woman in her twenties was injured during the swoop at an address in Harlesden Road, north London, shortly before 7pm on Thursday.

The operation was not connected to an earlier incident where a man carrying knives was arrested on suspicion of planning a terror attack near Downing Street, Scotland Yard said.

Police said a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old woman were arrested at the address where the woman was shot and a 20-year-old man was detained nearby.

A further woman, aged 43, was arrested in Kent a short while later.

All four are being held at a south London police station on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist acts.

The injured woman was taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service but has not been arrested due to her condition, which has not been disclosed.

No other injuries have been reported.

Police said the property and people connected to it had been “under observation by counter-terrorism officers as part of an ongoing intelligence-led operation”.

Further searches at linked addresses across London are under way, although Scotland Yard did not reveal the locations.

Following the shooting of the woman, who was “one of the subjects of the investigation”, the incident has been referred to the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) “as a matter of course”, Scotland Yard said.

Video was posted online appearing to show armed police clad in black surrounding a terraced house as gun shots rang out on Thursday afternoon.

Police said the operation was unconnected to the earlier arrest of a 27-year-old man armed with knives in Westminster.

During an “intelligence-led” operation, terror police swooped on the suspect close to Downing Street and the scene of the deadly Westminster Bridge attack.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431880.1493358513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431880.1493358513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Armed police carried out out a raid. Picture; Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Armed police carried out out a raid. Picture; Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431880.1493358513!/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/uk/when-do-the-paper-5-notes-stop-being-legal-tender-1-4431519","id":"1.4431519","articleHeadline": "When do the paper £5 notes stop being legal tender?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493357172000 ,"articleLead": "

Shoppers are being urged to use any paper five pound notes before they stop being legal tender.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431517.1493306134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The notes will stop being legal tender on May 5. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

From May 5, shops and businesses will stop accepting the paper banknote, featuring Elizabeth Fry on the reverse, as payment, and will instead only accept the new polymer version.

The banknote, featuring Sir Winston Churchill, will be the only Bank of England £5 note to hold legal tender status.

The Bank of England revealed last month that more than 50 per cent of the paper notes have been returned, with around 160 million remaining in circulation.

Shops have been instructed to stop handing out paper notes in change, but anyone who comes into possession of an old note can ask for it to be swapped.

Banks and building societies may still accept paper notes after May 5, but this will be at their own discretion.

The Bank of England will continue to exchange the old notes as it does with any other bank note no longer in circulation.

People can present notes for exchange in person, or by post - at the sender’s risk - by sending them to Dept NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431517.1493306134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431517.1493306134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The notes will stop being legal tender on May 5. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The notes will stop being legal tender on May 5. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431517.1493306134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431518.1493306136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431518.1493306136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The reverse of the note features English prison reformer, social reformer and philanthropist Elizabeth Fry. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The reverse of the note features English prison reformer, social reformer and philanthropist Elizabeth Fry. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431518.1493306136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/knifeman-arrested-on-terror-charges-in-whitehall-1-4431388","id":"1.4431388","articleHeadline": "Knifeman arrested on terror charges in Whitehall","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493328199000 ,"articleLead": "

Police swooped on a man carrying a bag of knives in Whitehall yesterday and arrested him on suspicion of planning a terror attack.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431387.1493302818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police at the scene where a man has been arrested following an incident in Whitehall in London. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The suspect, 27, was carrying a rucksack containing at least three knives when he was detained, and it appears he was known to police as Scotland Yard said he was arrested “following a stop and search as part of an ongoing operation”. The bearded man, who was described as “very calm” by a witness, was held yards from the scene of last month’s terror attack by Khalid Masood.

Parliament staff were told by security sources that police were tipped off by the man’s family according to Sky News, although this was not confirmed.

READ MORE: Forfar town centre closed amid anthrax threat

The Metropolitan Police said the suspect was held by armed officers from the Specialist Firearms Command.

It went on: “The man, aged in his late twenties, was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism.

“Knives have been recovered from him. He is being detained under the Terrorism Act and is in custody in a south London police station.”

Dressed in dark clothing, the suspect was wrestled to the ground on a traffic island at the Parliament Square end of Whitehall, close to the Foreign Office and the entrance to Downing Street. Handcuffed, with his arms behind his back, one of his hands appeared to be wrapped up in a bandage as four officers stood next to him.

Images from the scene showed three knives on the ground close to a brown rucksack, and an officer in forensic overalls could be seen taking photographs of the knives. Westminster has been on a state of heightened alert since Masood launched his attack on March 22, killing five people, including Pc Keith Palmer.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson says British military could help US in Syria

Masood drove at pedestrians before stabbing Pc Palmer as he guarded the cobbled forecourt of the Palace of Westminster. He was shot dead by police.

Prime Minister Theresa May was away from Number 10 on a campaign visit at the time of the incident yesterday.

“This is an ongoing police operation and we are monitoring it,” a spokeswoman said.

Recruiters Harry Peasnell, 27, and Andy Burnage, 22, were leaving the adjacent building which houses various government offices after a meeting with officials when they were told over the tannoy the usual entrance on to Whitehall was closed.

Mr Peasnell, who says he regularly has meetings in Westminster, said police were “quick on the scene” and that he was not worried like he was during the terror attack in the area just weeks ago.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Russell Jackson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431387.1493302818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431387.1493302818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police at the scene where a man has been arrested following an incident in Whitehall in London. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police at the scene where a man has been arrested following an incident in Whitehall in London. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431387.1493302818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431545.1493328195!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431545.1493328195!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May was not at Downing Street when the man was arrested. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May was not at Downing Street when the man was arrested. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431545.1493328195!/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/may-uses-brexit-warning-to-take-fight-to-labour-1-4431673","id":"1.4431673","articleHeadline": "May uses Brexit warning to take fight to Labour","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493312400000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May has taken her election message deep into enemy territory, calling on Labour supporters to “lend” her their votes if they want to see Brexit succeed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427422.1493328313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister used comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned the UK has “illusions” it will get the same terms after Brexit, to warn against allowing opposition parties to further disrupt “tough” negotiations with the EU.

Mrs Merkel earlier insisted talks on the UK’s divorce bill from the European Union must be dealt with before negotiations on any trade deal can begin. EU leaders are due to meet on Saturday to discuss their stance on Brexit negotiations.

Speaking in the Bundestag, Mrs Merkel was cheered as she struck a firm tone about Germany’s approach.

Mrs Merkel stressed that a “third country” - as the UK would be after Brexit - could not enjoy the same rights as a member of the EU.

She said she had the “feeling that some in Great Britain still have illusions” about Brexit and “that is a waste of time”.

Responding to the warning from Berlin, Mrs May said: “We have seen Chancellor Merkel’s comments today. She says the UK has “illusions” about the process and that the 27 member states of the European Union agree. We can see how tough those negotiations are going to be at times”

“Yet our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations – at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us.”

Speaking in Leeds, a Labour stronghold where the Tories hope to gain ground, she claimed “everyone in our country has a positive reason to lend me their vote” because of the upcoming talks.

Renewing her personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, she said: “I know this city is one of the places that people call a ‘traditional Labour area’. But here – and in every constituency across the country – it may say Labour on the ballot, but it’s Jeremy Corbyn that gets the vote.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427422.1493328313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427422.1493328313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427422.1493328313!/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/fear-of-brexit-impact-sparked-panic-election-says-snp-1-4431251","id":"1.4431251","articleHeadline": "Fear of Brexit impact sparked ‘panic election’, says SNP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493311874000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s economy secretary Keith Brown has blamed the “desperate panic” for a General Election on a fear of Brexit damaging the economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says Brexit will hit the economy. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking at leading industry figures at the Sunday Times/Brodies business breakfast in Edinburgh, Mr Brown said there is a “clear consensus” that leaving the European Union (EU) would hit the economy.

He said: “I think the UK Government is seeing what is coming down the track and that’s why there is a desperate panic General Election that’s happening.

“Many people in the business community have said to me that the approach of the UK Government has been utterly shambolic if you think about the lead ministers involved in this.

“There is a clear consensus that leaving the EU is going to be damaging to the UK economy.”

READ MORE: Poll: ‘More people think Brexit is wrong than right’

He said the Fraser of Allander Institute predicted Brexit would cost the economy £11 billion a year by 2030 and lead to the loss of 80,000 jobs.

Mr Brown said Scotland should have a separate immigration policy and stressed freedom of movement was crucial to the economy.

Speaking at the same event, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said predictions the UK economy would struggle following the Brexit vote had not come to pass, adding Scotland is the only area in the UK where the economy is struggling.

“I think going on and on and on about a second independence referendum is the most damaging thing for economic recovery in Scotland,” he added.

Meanwhile, cconomists are expecting a marked dent in Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) when official figures are released tomorrow, with growth slowing to 0.4 per cent from 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, as consumers tighten their belts in the face of rising living costs.

READ MORE: Tom Peterkin: Tory focus on indyref2 to distract from rape clause

The bleak outlook has been compounded by dismal retail sales, which recorded their biggest fall for seven years in the three months to March.

Consumers are feeling the pinch, with inflation sitting at its joint highest level for more than three years at 2.3% last month.

While falling flight and fuel prices kept a lid on the overall cost of living, price tags on food and clothing kept climbing in March.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist for IHS Markit, said the predicted first-quarter slowdown was “primarily the consequence” of consumers reining in their spending.

“Additionally, we expect businesses to become more cautious over investment, as the economy shows mounting signs of slowing and uncertainties over the outlook are magnified by Brexit negotiations coming increasingly to the forefront now that the Government has triggered Article 50,” he said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says Brexit will hit the economy. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says Brexit will hit the economy. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420460.1493295434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420460.1493295434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said talk of indyref2 is damaging the economy. Picture: JP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said talk of indyref2 is damaging the economy. Picture: JP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420460.1493295434!/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/business/companies/economy-s-resilience-gives-housebuilders-a-boost-1-4431281","id":"1.4431281","articleHeadline": "Economy’s ‘resilience’ gives housebuilders a boost","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493297129000 ,"articleLead": "

Two of Britain’s biggest housebuilders have reported solid progress as the industry attempts to close the gap between supply and demand.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The resilient economy is helping builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Persimmon thanked the “resilience of the UK economy” for helping drive an 11 per cent leap in forward home sales since the start of the year.

The owner of the Charles Church brand said total forward sales, including legal completions, had jumped to £2.6 billion in the year so far, up from £2.3bn a year earlier.

• READ MORE: Construction sector brushes off fears over Brexit

Its weekly private sales rate is running 12 per cent higher since the end of February, bringing the total of homes sold so far in 2017 to 8,928 at an average selling price of around £229,500.

The figures came as rival Taylor Wimpey hailed a “good start” to 2017, with “positive customer demand” and steady mortgage availability supporting a strong sales performance.

In a trading update, it said the market had remained positive in the first four months of the year, with its total order book currently standing at 9,219 homes, up from 8,811 a year earlier. By value, the order book has risen 2 per cent, year-on-year, to just over £2.2 billion.

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

In its statement, Persimmon said: “[Our] operational performance continues to be excellent, with the group delivering higher volumes of newly built homes in local communities across all our regional markets, supported by the resilience of the UK economy.

“The prevailing disciplined approach to mortgage lending is enabling customers to buy newly built homes on attractive but sustainable terms.”

Meanwhile, Taylor Wimpey is to set aside £130 million as part of plans to help customers trapped in onerous leasehold contracts drawn up by the housebuilder.

Following a review of lease agreements struck over the past decade, the company also issued an apology for the “unintended financial consequence and concern” for what MPs dubbed the “PPI of the housebuilding industry”.

Leaseholders were forced to stomach ground rents that doubled every ten years and the freeholds to their houses were able to be sold to third-party private firms, making many homes unsaleable.

It said: “We acknowledge that the introduction of these doubling clauses was not consistent with our high standards of customer service.”

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "sreid@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Reid"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The resilient economy is helping builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The resilient economy is helping builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/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/general-election-2017-labour-admits-facing-fight-of-its-life-1-4430767","id":"1.4430767","articleHeadline": "General Election 2017: Labour admits facing fight of its life","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493293363000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour faces the fight of its life, the party admitted as the general election campaign gets under way in earnest.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4416094.1493277305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Party sources acknowledged Labour’s dire poll rating but insisted Jeremy Corbyn’s message would get through to voters after 18 months of turbulent leadership once it was delivered on the campaign trail.

Theresa May set the tone at the final Prime Minister’s Questions for a presidential-style election battle, pitting her leadership against Mr Corbyn’s.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond says General Election is a vote on indyref2

“Every vote for him is a vote for a chaotic Brexit; every vote for me is a vote to strengthen our hand in negotiating the best deal for Britain,” she claimed.

But televised debates will play little role over the next six weeks after Labour responded to Mrs May’s refusal to take part by saying Mr Corbyn would boycott any event without the Prime Minister.

The Conservatives drove home their central message of the “stronger leadership” needed to deliver a successful exit from the EU.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urged to set out indyref2 plan before election

Last night Boris Johnson told the Lord Mayor’s banquet in London that while Brexit means “some plaster may fall off the ceiling”, only the Prime Minister could “pull it off”.

And a cabinet source claimed the party was ready was ready to seize on the chance of a breakthrough in Scotland by sending its big guns for high-profile appearances in target seats, saying: “We’re waiting for our marching orders from Ruth Davidson.”

The latest set of polls showed the gap between Labour and the Conservatives continuing to rise, with the Tories enjoying a lead of up to 23 points.

A Labour source said: “We have the fight of our lives on our hands, but it’s clear as Labour is able to speak with its own voice in its election campaign, as has not been entirely the case in the previous 18 months, the public will respond very clearly to our very popular policies. We will be setting out to transform the way Britain is run for the many and not the few.”

Mrs May was unable to rule out a squeeze on pensions when she came under sustained pressure at PMQs from Labour and the SNP.

The Prime Minister refused to pledge that a ‘triple lock’ on pensions would continue if the Conservatives win on 8 June, leading to accusations of a “betrayal” of older people.

She was attacked for not doing more to help 
women born in the 1950s who must work longer as the retirement age rises. Nicola Sturgeon claimed it was a “scandal” that the Tories had “coldly brushed aside” the concerns of campaigners demanding additional compensation.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson challenged Mrs May to guarantee the triple lock that sees pensions increase in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5 per cent - whichever is highest. 
Mrs May said pensioner incomes will “continue to increase” but would not give an explicit commitment to the triple lock for the second time this week.

Mr Robertson said: “Pensioners right across this land are right to conclude that this Tory Prime Minister plans to ditch the triple lock on the state pension.

“Too many women already face pensions inequality, and the Tories now won’t even guarantee the pensions triple lock, and the only reason that they will not guarantee it is because they want to cut pensions.”

The Prime Minister was also challenged over the ‘rape clause’, which requires women to prove they have conceived a third child through rape to be exempt from a two-child cap on tax credits.

SNP MP Chris Stephens called on the Prime Minister to condemn the “unworkable and immoral policy”. Mrs May said it was an “incredibly sensitive issue” that had been subject to careful consultation.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4416094.1493277305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4416094.1493277305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4416094.1493277305!/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/business/companies/retail/pret-a-manger-hunts-for-british-staff-to-plug-brexit-gap-1-4431165","id":"1.4431165","articleHeadline": "Pret A Manger hunts for British staff to plug Brexit gap","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493292454000 ,"articleLead": "

The chief executive of sandwich chain Pret A Manger has said the group is “reaching out” to British applicants as it looks to plug a looming recruitment gap caused by Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pret boss Clive Schlee is 'reaching out' to British workers. Picture: Pret A Manger/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Clive Schlee said the group is taking a proactive approach to tackling fears that the UK’s exit from the European Union will leave it struggling to staff its cafes, by advertising on social media and working with job centres.

Pret’s head of human resources last month revealed fears of a recruitment crisis because just one in 50 of its job applicants is British. The chain has 14 shops in Scotland, employing nearly 230 people.

• READ MORE: Paris Gourtsoyannis: UK should see migration differently

Schlee said: “We used to wait for people to come to us, but we’re reaching out to more British labour applicants through social media and job centres.”

Pret, which last year created 839 full-time jobs, recently revealed it is launching a programme this summer to offer 500 week-long paid work experience placements to UK school students.

Schlee said he was “encouraged” by UK government plans to head off recruitment woes for the hospitality industry with a new “barista visa” mooted to allow young European citizens to continue coming to the UK to work in coffee shops and pubs.

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

His comments came as the group posted a record set of full-year results, with worldwide sales rising 15 per cent to £776.2 million in 2016, while operating profit grew 11 per cent to £93.2m. Like-for-like sales rose 4.8 per cent.

Schlee said the pound’s fall since the Brexit vote had been a double-edged sword, helping boost trade as it has driven tourists to the UK while also sending up costs of many ingredients.

Many of Pret’s 250 UK shops are based at major transport hubs, such as airports and railway stations, which have been benefiting from tourist trade.

• READ MORE: Sandwich chain Pret rings up record sales

He pledged to keep price rises below inflation despite seeing costs of imported ingredients rise, with salmon, avocados and crayfish particularly impacted as supply issues have also taken their toll.

The group, majority-owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, hailed sales of its dairy-free coconut porridge, which accounts for one in five porridge sales in the UK.

The firm also opened its first vegetarian-only pop-up shop in London’s Soho last year, which will now be made permanent, with a second Veggie Pret opened earlier this month in Shoreditch.

Its overseas trade was boosted by a strong showing in the US, where sales broke the $200 million mark for the first time in 2016.

Bridgepoint is reportedly considering a stock market flotation within the next 18 months, with speculation that bosses are eyeing New York rather than London.

But Schlee remained tight-lipped on any potential listing, saying it was a “matter for the shareholders”.

Pret opened 50 new shops during 2016 – including 31 in the UK – taking its total to 444, and Schlee said the 500th branch is set to open over the next 12 months.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Holly Williams and Ravender Sembhy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pret boss Clive Schlee is 'reaching out' to British workers. Picture: Pret A Manger/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pret boss Clive Schlee is 'reaching out' to British workers. Picture: Pret A Manger/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/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/uk/british-brands-lose-value-after-brexit-vote-1-4431087","id":"1.4431087","articleHeadline": "British brands lose value after Brexit vote","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493290332000 ,"articleLead": "

Most of Britain’s biggest brands have lost value in the wake of the Brexit vote, a report reveals today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BP: Britain's fourth most valuable brand. Picture Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

Shell retained its position as the most valuable brand in the UK, rising by 16 per cent to £28.5 billion as it benefited from a surge in oil prices, in the latest Brand Finance UK 150 report.

Vodafone and HSBC were second and third respectively, despite a “very difficult” year that saw them losing 22 per cent and 14 per cent of their value respectively, the figures show.

Oil and gas, telecoms and banking accounted for eight of the top 10 most valuable brands in the UK.

Accounting and professional services firm EY came top of the list of the most powerful UK brands, beating ITV and Lynx.

Unilever had a particularly positive year with eight brands in the UK 150, led by Dove whose brand value rose by 17 per cent to £3.7bn.

However, 88 of the 150 most valuable brands decreased in value over the year, with the falls in sterling making them vulnerable to takeovers, the report said.

READ MORE: Engineer Weir buoyed by jump in oil and gas orders

The UK 150 ranks brands by monetary value and also calculates the most powerful brands. Brand Finance considered marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation to determine the “strength” or “power” of a brand.

Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh said: “While the impact of Brexit on the broader economy has not lived up to the doomsday scenarios espoused by remainers with the domestic performance of brands holding strong, on an international scale the majority of Britain’s biggest brands have clearly suffered.

“If foreign exchange rates stay at current levels, British companies could well be vulnerable to takeover from international buyers.

“There are a number of companies whose woes extend far beyond Brexit, including Thomas Cook which has continued to lose value following its poor handling of a number of scandals to detriment of its corporate reputation and customer loyalty.”

READ MORE: Barclays tops table for financial service complaints

The Brand Finance UK 150 top 10 most valuable brands are:

1. Shell

2. Vodafone

3. HSBC

4. BP

5. EY

6. Barclays

7. BT

8. Tesco

9. Sky

10. O2

The top 10 most powerful brands are:

1. EY

2. ITV

3. Lynx

4. Holiday Inn

5. The Body Shop

6. Dove

7. Dettol

8. Rolls Royce

9. Costa Coffee

10. British Gas

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Josie Clarke"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BP: Britain's fourth most valuable brand. Picture Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BP: Britain's fourth most valuable brand. Picture Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/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-more-people-think-brexit-is-wrong-than-right-1-4431069","id":"1.4431069","articleHeadline": "Poll: ‘More people think Brexit is wrong than right’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493289036000 ,"articleLead": "

More people think Brexit was the wrong decision than the right one for the first time since last June’s referendum, a poll has found.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431068.1493289033!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May greets European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a Brexit meeting. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

A YouGov survey found that 45 per cent of voters in the UK agreed that, with hindsight, the country was wrong to vote to leave the European Union - compared to 43 per cent who said it was the right move and 12 per cent who said they didn’t know.

It is the first time Brexit doubters have outnumbered those in the pro-Leave camp in a nationwide poll.

Theresa May has placed the UK’s exit from the EU at the heart of her election campaign, promising voters that every vote for the Conservatives is a vote for a stronger Brexit.

But the SNP and Liberal Democrats have both warned against a so-called hard Brexit and demanded concessions on a range of issues, including the rights of EU nationals living in the UK to be protected.

The poll for the The Times also saw the Tory election lead shrinking from 23 points at the end of last week to 16 points.

It had the Tories on 45 per cent, down three, and Labour on 29 per cent, up four.

READ MORE: Labour admit it faces fight of its life

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431068.1493289033!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431068.1493289033!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May greets European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a Brexit meeting. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May greets European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a Brexit meeting. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431068.1493289033!/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/boris-johnson-says-british-military-could-help-us-in-syria-1-4431032","id":"1.4431032","articleHeadline": "Boris Johnson says British military could help US in Syria","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493287511000 ,"articleLead": "

Britain could join the United States in taking military action against the Syrian regime, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431029.1493287454!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says UK could help US military in Syria. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Johnson said the government may also bypass a House of Commons vote authorising action if the US asked for help.

The Foreign Secretary said it would be “very difficult to say no” if Donald Trump’s administration asks the UK for help in taking action against Bashar Assad’s regime in response to another chemical attack.

The US launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian regime air base this month after President Assad allegedly killed scores of people in a sarin gas attack on a rebel-held area in Idlib province.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond says General Election is a vote on indyref2

Asked if MPs would have to approve Britain joining any similar action in the future, Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that needs to be tested.”
Mr Johnson said Theresa May backed his view that the UK would find it difficult to say no to a request from the US.
He said: “I think it will be very difficult if the United States has a proposal to have some sort of action in response to a chemical weapons attack, and if they come to us and ask for our support, whether it’s with submarine-based cruise missiles in the [Mediterranean], or whatever it happens to be, as was the case back in 2013, it would be in my view, and I know this is also the view of the Prime Minister, it would be very difficult for us to say no.”
Asked if the Prime Minister would have to win a Commons vote before taking action, he replied: “I think that needs to be tested.
“I think it would be very difficult for us to say no.”
Asked if the approval of MPs was a necessary pre-condition, he replied: “As I said, I think it would be very difficult for us to say no; how exactly we were able to implement that would be for the Government, for the Prime Minister.
“But if the Americans were once again to be forced by the actions of the Assad regime - don’t forget, it was Assad who unleashed murder upon his own citizens with weapons that were banned almost 100 years ago - if the Americans choose to act again and they ask us to help, as I say, I think it would be very difficult to say no.”
Britain is currently carrying out air strikes in Syria and Iraq against so-called Islamic State (IS) terrorists but has taken no military action against the Assad regime.
MPs backed the action against IS in a December 2015 Commons vote but rejected strikes against the Assad regime in 2013.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Arj Singh"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431029.1493287454!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431029.1493287454!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says UK could help US military in Syria. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says UK could help US military in Syria. Pic: Victoria Jones/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431029.1493287454!/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/business/markets-economy/martin-flanagan-lse-puts-on-a-brave-profitable-face-1-4430781","id":"1.4430781","articleHeadline": "Martin Flanagan: LSE puts on a brave profitable face","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493274776000 ,"articleLead": "

London Stock Exchange Group was left with shared egg on its face when its proposed merger with Frankfurt rival Deutsche Borse foundered on the rocks of European Union anti-trust concerns recently.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430780.1493273943!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The London Stock Exchange is still in the market for a tie-up, writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

But a fairly good flannel to wipe such embarrassment off is a double-digit rise in profits, which the LSE has just delivered.

Gross profit at the LSE has jumped 17 per cent to £409 million in the first three months of 2017, while total income surged 19 per cent to £458.7m. The first-quarter outturn was boosted by a near-third jump in income at French clearing business LCH, the subsidiary which the LSE had offered to offload to Euronext to help ease the EU’s competition concerns.

Such a strong performance at least helps make the case that the London exchange and its subsidiaries were dealing from a position of strength when trying to pull off the deal with Deutsche Borse.

LSE, somewhat like a dowager adjusting her skirt self-consciously after tripping when alighting from a hackney carriage, also addressed the other issue by saying it was exploring “inorganic” as well as organic investments to drive growth. This is corporate-speak for the organisation still being in the market for merger or joint venture if a suitable strategic opportunity and price presents itself.

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

It will be interesting to see whether one of the major US exchanges, in particular, bites. Meanwhile, the LSE repeated its plans for a £200m share buyback programme, first announced last month, as compensation for the collapsed merger deal.

Perhaps most importantly, the LSE’s shares edged up to a record closing high of 3,348p, indicating that institutions do not believe the failure of the marriage with Frankfurt is an out-and-out disaster.

Times get tougher for banks

Santander follows Virgin Money in warning of potentially more challenging times ahead as consumers face tougher economic times.

They are unlikely to be the last of the lenders to do so. No sudden borrowing car crash is being forecast. More a gradual realisation among consumers as inflation rises and earnings tread water that times are a bit tougher.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "mflanagan@scotsman.com" ,"author": "MARTIN FLANAGAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4430780.1493273943!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430780.1493273943!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The London Stock Exchange is still in the market for a tie-up, writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The London Stock Exchange is still in the market for a tie-up, writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4430780.1493273943!/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/business/companies/financial/barclays-tops-table-for-financial-service-complaints-1-4430765","id":"1.4430765","articleHeadline": "Barclays tops table for financial service complaints","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493271488000 ,"articleLead": "

More than three million complaints were made by consumers to financial services firms in the second half of 2016, according to the City regulator.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430764.1493271483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barclays received the most complaints in the second half of 2016. Picture: Alastair Grant/AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Barclays Bank received the most complaints in the period, followed by Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland, which are both part of Lloyds Banking Group.

Barclays received 438,237 complaints while Lloyds Bank had 297,148 and Bank of Scotland 267,237.

• READ MORE: Ethical bank Triodos to launch first current account

Although the overall total of 3.04 million was significantly higher than the 2.05 million reported in the first half of the year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said changes in the way firms report complaints were behind the increase.

Firms were not previously required to submit figures for complaints resolved by the end of the working day after they were received, but from 30 June all complaints became reportable.

Payment protection insurance (PPI) remained the most complained-about product in the second half followed by current accounts.

Some 60 per cent of complaints were upheld in favour of customers and total redress paid was £1.9 billion.

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

The top two reasons for complaints were admin and customer service together with the advising, selling and arranging of products.

Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director of strategy and competition, said: “Consumers want a simple way to complain that does not leave them out of pocket. And they want to be assured that their concerns will be dealt with fairly and quickly.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Perry Gourley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4430764.1493271483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430764.1493271483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Barclays received the most complaints in the second half of 2016. Picture: Alastair Grant/AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barclays received the most complaints in the second half of 2016. Picture: Alastair Grant/AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4430764.1493271483!/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-shows-theresa-may-most-popular-leader-since-1970s-1-4430581","id":"1.4430581","articleHeadline": "Poll shows Theresa May ‘most popular leader since 1970s’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493231051000 ,"articleLead": "

Conservatives have extended their poll lead over Labour to 23 percentage points in a survey which suggests voters rate Theresa May more highly than Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair for leadership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430580.1493231048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May laughs as she talks with a member of staff as she makes a general election campaign visit to a steel works in Newport, Wales. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The Ipsos Mori poll found 61 per cent of voters saw Mrs May as the “most capable” of the leaders of the main political parties, against 23 per cent for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.

The ranking is the strongest the pollster has recorded since it began asking the question in the 1970s, outstripping Mrs Thatcher’s peak of 48 per cent shortly before her landslide defeat of Michael Foot in 1983 and Mr Blair’s high point of 52 per cent ahead of his emphatic 2001 election victory over William Hague.

The poll put Conservatives on 49 per cent - up six points since last month - against Labour’s 26 per cent (down four). Liberal Democrats were unchanged on 13 per cent, while Ukip slumped from 6 per cent to 4 per cent and Greens were down from 4 per cent to 1 per cent.

If repeated at the ballot box, it suggests Mrs May is heading for a majority comfortably over 100 seats on June 8.

:: Ipsos Mori interviewed 1,004 adults across Great Britain between April 21 and 25.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4430580.1493231048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430580.1493231048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May laughs as she talks with a member of staff as she makes a general election campaign visit to a steel works in Newport, Wales. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May laughs as she talks with a member of staff as she makes a general election campaign visit to a steel works in Newport, Wales. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4430580.1493231048!/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/pmqs-snp-claims-theresa-may-wants-to-cut-pensions-1-4430296","id":"1.4430296","articleHeadline": "PMQs: SNP claims Theresa May wants to ‘cut pensions’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493216657000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May has refused to guarantee the triple lock on pensions will continue.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430295.1493216653!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaking during the weekly Prime Ministers Questions session in the House of Commons in London. Pic: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister did say that pensioner incomes would continue to rise under a Conservative government.

But this prompted accusations from SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson that the Tories could not be trusted on pensions.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Robertson asked Mrs May to guarantee the triple lock for increases on the state pension.

Mrs May replied: “I’ve been very clear that under this Conservative government, we have seen pensioners benefit as a result of what we’ve done to the basic state pension to the tune of £1,250 a year.

“I am clear that under a Conservative government, pensioner incomes would continue to increase.”

The Prime Minister’s response prompted cries of “answer” from the opposition benches, with Mr Robertson saying: “I asked the Prime Minister a pretty simple question, it was a yes or a no, and the Prime Minister failed to answer.

“So pensioners right across this land are right to conclude that this Tory Prime Minister plans to ditch the triple lock on the state pension.

“Too many women already face pensions inequality, and the Tories now won’t even guarantee the pensions triple lock, and the only reason that they will not guarantee it is because they want to cut pensions.

“Is not the message to pensioners you cannot trust this Prime Minister, you cannot trust the Tories on your pension.”

Mrs May again defended the Conservative record in Government on pensioners, reiterating that pensioner incomes would continue to increase.

She added: “He talks about inequality for women.

“It’s the change in the structure of the state pension introduced by this Government that is going to improve the lot of women, female pensioners, in the future, that is going to be much better for them.

“But one thing that pensioners in Scotland will know, as other voters in Scotland will know, is that if they believe in the union, there’s only one way to vote and that’s to vote Conservative.”

The Prime Minister and other senior ministers have repeatedly failed to guarantee the future of the triple lock, which ensures pensions increase in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5% - whichever is highest.

Labour has committed to keeping the triple lock.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4430295.1493216653!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430295.1493216653!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaking during the weekly Prime Ministers Questions session in the House of Commons in London. Pic: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaking during the weekly Prime Ministers Questions session in the House of Commons in London. Pic: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4430295.1493216653!/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/business/companies/financial/santander-profits-fall-amid-plunge-in-brexit-hit-pound-1-4429680","id":"1.4429680","articleHeadline": "Santander profits fall amid plunge in Brexit-hit pound","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493197090000 ,"articleLead": "

High street lender Santander today warned of a “changeable and potentially more challenging” economic outlook amid the fallout from the Brexit-hit pound as it revealed lower first-quarter UK profits.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429679.1493197086!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Santander warned of a 'potentially more challenging' economic outlook as it revealed lower UK profits. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Sterling’s plunge since the Brexit vote left its Spanish owner Banco Santander nursing an 8 per cent fall in UK profits when translated into euros, at €416 million (£354.5m).

• READ MORE: Santander warns over Brexit impact as UK profits rise

At the UK arm, reported profits were 1 per cent lower at £525m for the first three months of 2017 as it took a further £32m charge to cover claims for payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation.

The bank said that net mortgage lending fell by £400m after withdrawing some of its most competitive rates at the end of last year.

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

Chief executive Nathan Bostock, the former finance chief at Royal Bank of Scotland, said the group was bracing for a tougher 2017 as Brexit-fuelled inflation from the weak pound hits consumer spending power.

He added: “Looking ahead, we anticipate a changeable and potentially more challenging macro environment.”

• READ MORE: Cost of living fears mount as inflation hits 2.3%

Santander said it expects UK growth to remain “solid” in 2017, but added that clouds are beginning to appear after an initially resilient performance since the Brexit vote.

It warned: “Higher inflation, largely from the lower value of sterling, could reduce households’ real earnings growth. This, and a potentially more challenging macro environment going forward, adds a degree of caution to our outlook.”

Santander said its extra PPI charge is set to cover costs until the deadline for claims in August 2019, which will draw a line under the industry’s costly mis-selling scandal.

With the PPI charge and £25m of other one-off regulatory costs stripped out, underlying UK profits were 6 per cent higher at £582m.

Its mortgage lending was lower after pulling competitive deals in the previous three months and as first-quarter figures a year earlier were boosted by the buy-to-let borrowing rush before April’s stamp duty increase.

Santander added that it would “continue to focus on customer service in what remains a highly competitive market”, although mortgage approvals rose in the first quarter.

The group also expects slower growth in lending to businesses over the year ahead as Brexit uncertainty takes its toll. It is keeping a tight lid on costs amid an ongoing drive to slash £100m from costs this year.

The wider Banco Santander group posted a better-than-expected 14 per cent leap in first-quarter net profit to €1.87 billion as strong growth in Brazil offset the lower UK earnings.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Holly Williams"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429679.1493197086!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429679.1493197086!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Santander warned of a 'potentially more challenging' economic outlook as it revealed lower UK profits. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Santander warned of a 'potentially more challenging' economic outlook as it revealed lower UK profits. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4429679.1493197086!/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/business/companies/financial/ethical-bank-triodos-to-launch-first-current-account-1-4428879","id":"1.4428879","articleHeadline": "Ethical bank Triodos to launch first current account","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493195984000 ,"articleLead": "

Ethical lender Triodos today said it was opening registrations for its first personal current account in the UK.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429660.1493195980!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Triodos debit card will be made from a renewable alternative to plastic. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The Dutch-owned bank, which opened an Edinburgh office in 2006 and only lends to organisations and projects that make a “positive difference to society”, said the phased roll-out of the account, which carries a monthly fee of £3, will begin in June.

• READ MORE: Why banks are putting human dignity at their core

UK managing director Bevis Watts said: “Our new personal current account brings an inspiring new option to the UK current account market, which we believe is dysfunctional and is obviously dominated by a small number of large banks.

“We want people to really think about what their bank is doing with their money. Money doesn’t have to be invested in the arms trade, fossil fuels and tobacco – it can be used to do good things that help build the society we want to live in.”

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

A spokesman said Triodos has financed 130 projects in Scotland, with sustainable energy accounting for more than two-thirds of its total £107 million lending north of the Border.

• READ MORE: Scottish lending grows at ethical bank Triodos

In recognition of its environmental stance, the lender’s customers will receive an eco-friendly debit card made from a renewable alternative to plastic.

Head of retail banking Huw Davies said the bank, which already operates current accounts in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, was “leading by example” with its £3 monthly fee.

He added: “There is no such thing as ‘free’ banking because someone else always pays. ‘Free’ accounts are usually subsidised with high penalty charges and hidden fees, so the most vulnerable customers, or those making a rare miscalculation with the household finances, end up paying an exorbitant price.”

The move by Triodos comes as new data shows that more current account customers have been ditching and switching their bank following a wave of providers cutting rates or reducing perks on their accounts.

Some 248,302 switches took place between January and March, according to payments body Bacs, which oversees the current account switch service. This was higher than the 208,387 switches that took place between October and December 2016.

In total, more than 3.7 million current accounts have been switched since the seven-day service to make it easier for customers to ditch and switch was launched in September 2013.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429660.1493195980!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429660.1493195980!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Triodos debit card will be made from a renewable alternative to plastic. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Triodos debit card will be made from a renewable alternative to plastic. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4429660.1493195980!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4428878.1493195982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428878.1493195982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Bevis Watts, UK managing director at Triodos. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bevis Watts, UK managing director at Triodos. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4428878.1493195982!/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/business/companies/financial/lloyds-to-start-compensating-victims-of-hbos-fraud-1-4429650","id":"1.4429650","articleHeadline": "Lloyds to start compensating victims of HBOS fraud","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493195172000 ,"articleLead": "

Lloyds Banking Group is to begin making compensation offers to victims of fraud at the hands of former HBOS staff next month, and has also appointed a retired high court judge to probe its handling of the affair.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429649.1493195168!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lloyds said redress relating to fraud at HBOS will begin to be paid in June. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The lender, which expects compensation payouts to total about £100 million, said redress offers will be made from late May onwards, with payments to begin in June.

In addition, Dame Linda Dobbs has been appointed as an independent legal expert to “consider whether the issues relating to HBOS Reading were investigated and appropriately reported to authorities” by Lloyds, following its acquisition of HBOS, formed in 2001 by the merger of Bank of Scotland and Halifax.

• READ MORE: Regulator to look at KPMG audit of collapsed HBOS

Dame Linda has previously led an investigation into former radio presenter Stuart Hall’s conduct at the BBC, which fed into a wider review into Jimmy Savile’s behaviour while at the corporation.

Lloyds said Dame Linda has been selected for her “considerable experience of working on fraud cases and track record of chairing inquiries”.

Earlier this month the lender said it will pay compensation for “economic losses, distress and inconvenience” as part of a package of measures to assist victims.

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This includes providing interim payments to help those in day-to-day financial difficulty as a result of the fraud, covering “reasonable” fees for professional advice to customers and writing off remaining business and personal debts owed to Lloyds and not pursuing repayment.

Last month Lloyds recruited Professor Russel Griggs to spearhead an investigation into whether it should compensate customers who became victims of fraud at the hands of former HBOS staff in Reading.

It came after a group of corrupt financiers were jailed for carrying out a £245m loans scam and squandering the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays.

The Financial Conduct Authority is also resuming its investigation into the episode after it was placed on hold in 2013 at the request of Thames Valley Police.

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