Review of the Year 2016: a political year like no other

US President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump. Picture: Getty

US President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump. Picture: Getty

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It was the year which saw Brexit, the departure of David Cameron as Prime Minister, the election of Donald Trump as US President and the SNP launch a consultation on a second Scottish independence referendum.

JANUARY

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage . Picture: JP

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage . Picture: JP

High winds and heavy rain laid siege to swaths of Scotland as Storm Frank hit. The owner of the historic Abergeldie Castle was forced to evacuate the 16th century tower house after the River Dee swept away land, leaving the property only a few feet from the water.

There was bad news for the North Sea industry after BP announced it was to axe 600 jobs, the equivalent of a fifth of its total workforce in the region. The company said it was taking the step in the face of “toughening market conditions”. A further blow for the economy was dealt by Texas Instruments, the global semiconductor company, which announced a phased closure of its electronics plant in the Inverclyde town of Greenock. The firm said it planned to move production to “more cost-effective” sites in Germany, Japan and the US.

Donald Trump, a man who would go on to dominate the 2016 news cycle, threatened to pull his purported £700m investments in Scotland amid hostility from the British public. Over half a million people backed a petition calling on the billionaire to be banned from travelling to Britain, a protest sparked by his contentious remarks about Muslims.

In a spectacle that had viewers gripped to their televisions, Major Tim Peake stepped out of the International Space Station to complete his first spacewalk. The 44-year-old British astronaut spent nearly five hours in space, although the walk was cut short after US colleague, Tim Kopra, reported water in his helmet. Despite the abrupt ending to his spacewalk, Mr Peake described the experience as “exhilarating”, posting a selfie on Twitter, saying the feat would be “etched in my memory forever”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron. Picture: Getty

British Prime Minister David Cameron. Picture: Getty

Sir Robert Owen’s long-awaited 300-page report following the public inquiry into the 2006 murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko concluded he was the victim of a Russian state-backed assassination and said such an operation was “probably” carried out with a nod from President Vladimir Putin.

The child killer Robert Black, who was convicted of the murders of four children from across the UK in the 1980s, died in prison in Northern Ireland aged 68. The paedophile, originally from Grangemouth, has a long criminal record of sexually abusing young girls.

Tensions among the international community heightened after North Korea announced it had successfully carried out its first underground test of a hydrogen bomb, a weapon more powerful than an atomic bomb, although experts cast doubt on Pyongyang’s claim given the size of the explosion.

In a year notable for the losses of major public figures, the month witnessed the death of three of the country’s best loved entertainers. David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of his era, lost his 18 month-long battle against cancer at the age of 69, Sir Terry Wogan, the radio and television broadcaster beloved to millions, died at his Buckinghamshire home aged 77 and Alan Rickman, a giant of British screen and stage, died in London at the age of 69.

In sport, Serena Williams, one of the most successful tennis players of all time, was at the centre of a major upset at the Australian Open. The US player was defeated by Germany’s Angelique Kerber, denying her an Open-era record equalling 22nd major title. In the men’s final, Andy Murray lost to a dominant Novak Djokovic.

Scotland’s Gary Anderson retained his PDC World Darts Championship title, beating Adrian Lewis 7-5 in the final. The 45-year-old from Eyemouth, known to his fans as the Flying Scotsman, admitted afterwards he may require to have his eyes tested, having twice miscounted scores during the contest.

FEBRUARY

In a historic announcement long-awaited by members of his own party, prime minister David Cameron confirms the UK will vote on whether to remain in the EU in June. “The choice goes to the heart of the kind of country we want to be and the future we want for our children,” he said in an address from outside Downing Street.

A former government minister, meanwhile, was faced with his own challenge after being landed with a legal bill of around £150,000. Alistair Carmichael, the former secretary of state for Scotland, lost a bid to have his legal fees paid after a challenge to his election failed. It followed a court action raised by four of his constituents under the Representation of the People Act 1983, which claiming he misled voters over a leaked memo before the election. Judges ruled it has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt he had committed an “illegal practice”.

Bad news also befell Royal Bank of Scotland after it reported a loss of £1.98 billion for 2015, its eighth year of annual losses. The figures also showed that underlying profits at RBS, which is still 73 per cent government-owned, dropped to £4.4bn, from £6bn a year before.

Locomotive enthusiasts gave a warm welcome to a familiar old friend as the Flying Scotsman returned to the West Coast mainline. The famous engine passed through Carnforth and Oxenholme as part of a test run following its decade-long, £4.2m restoration.

In a landmark announcement for British journalism, the owners of the Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers confirmed the titles would cease to print and become online only. At its peak, sales of the Independent stood at around 428,000 copies a day.

One long-running story that has featured in countless pages of newsprint down the years appeared to come to an end in February after a High Court ruled Lord Lucan was now presumed to be dead. A death certificate was issued some 42 years after the peer vanished following the discovery of the bludgeoned body of his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett.

Other fantastical news that month came in the form a major scientific breakthrough. A global team of physicists, including staff from the University of Glasgow, announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.

The fast-spreading Zika virus led to the World Health Organisation to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

In Hollywood, the drama, Spotlight, which charts the efforts of the Boston Globe newspaper to uncover widespread child abuse by Catholic clergy, saw off the likes of The Big Short and The Revenant to win the Best Picture award at the 88th Academy Awards.

In sport, the footwear manufacturer Nike ended its endorsement deal with the world-renowned Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao, after he made comments about gay people being “worse than animals”.

MARCH

Asad Shah, a shopkeeper in the Shawlands area of Glasgow, was stabbed to death outside his store in a religiously motivated murder. The 40-year-old was an Ahmadi, a minority sect not recognised by all Muslims. His killer, Tanveer Ahmed, a Sunni Muslim, said he killed Mr Shah because he had posted videos online in which he claimed to be a prophet.

Police Scotland launch a murder inquiry after the body of missing 15-year-old Paige Doherty is found in a wooded area in Clydebank.

In Aberdeen, a teenager who stabbed a 16-year-old pupil to death in a school was found guilty of culpable homicide. Bailey Gwynne died after being stabbed in the heart at Cults Academy the previous October. Another 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Aberdeen.

There was troubling news for the economy in the form of the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) bulletin for 2014-15, which showed Scotland’s public spending outstripped its tax revenue by almost £15bn. The numbers showed the amount spent per head stood £1,400 per person higher than the UK figure, with the deficit running to almost 10 per cent of Scotland’s output.

With tensions escalating over the Europe question, Iain Duncan Smith dealt a blow to prime minister David Cameron’s government by resigning as work and pensions secretary in protest at cuts to disability benefits. In an attack on chancellor George Osborne’s budget, he said warned of pressure to “salami slice” welfare and said the latest cuts proved a “compromise too far”.

In another horrific terror attack in the heart of Europe, co-ordinated bombings at Zaventem international airport in Brussels and a metro station in the city left 32 people dead and 340 others injured. The militant group IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, which left Belgium reeling. “What we feared, has happened,” prime minister Charles Michel said.

The same month, Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November 2015 which killed 130 people, was wounded and arrested in a raid in Brussels. The raid in the district of Molenbeek came after Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found in a flat in another district of the city.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted of genocide and war crimes in the 1992-95 Bosnian war. UN judges in The Hague found the 70-year-old guilty of ten of 11 charges, including genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

There were sorely felt losses in the world of entertainment in March. Comedian Ronnie Corbett died at the age of 85, while magician Paul Daniels passed away aged 77. George Martin, the producer of the Beatles and the man Sir Paul McCartney described as a “second father”, died aged 90.

In sport, England claimed their first rugby union Grand Slam in 13 years after holding out to secure a historic victory in Paris in the Six Nations.

With two wins from their five matches, Scotland finished fourth in the standings.

The former world number one tennis player Maria Sharapova revealed she had failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open earlier in the year.

APRIL

Seventeen schools in Edinburgh were closed indefinitely over safety fears, leaving more than 7,000 pupils and their parents in limbo. The raft of closures came after new construction issues were discovered in schools which were built or refurbished under a public private partnership (PPP1) deal.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed the deaths of the M9 crash couple, John Yuill and Lamara Bell, were the lowest point in her career as First Minister to date.

As the row over an investment pact between Scotland and China intensified, Ms Sturgeon faced accusations that she had misled the Scottish public

There was further political controversy with President Barack Obama’s visit to the UK as he warned the country would find itself at the “back of the queue” in any trade deal with the US if it chose to leave the EU.

A global story broke in the form of the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The data leak engulfed then prime minister David Cameron after it emerged his father ran an offshore fund that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain. Mr Cameron admitted he owned shares in the tax haven fund, which he sold for £31,500 before entering Downing Street.

Inquests into the Hillsborough disaster concluded that the 96 fans who died in the 1989 incident were unlawfully killed. The jury found the match commander, Chief Supt David Duckenfield was “responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care.

Burdened by debts of £1.3 billion, British Home Stores, one of the UK’s best known high street retailers, filed for administration, putting 11,000 jobs and 164 stores at risk.

There was a major scientific and medical breakthrough in Mexico with the first baby to be born using a new technique that incorporates DNA from three people. The birth of the child, whose Jordanian parents were treated by a US-based team, was welcomed by embryologists around the world.

Professor Stephen Hawking joined forces with Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and billionaire, Yuri Milner, to unveil a £70 million research programme designed to send tiny spacecraft to another star system in the space of a generation. The Breakthrough Starshot initiative hopes to send so-called nanocraft on a journey spanning trillions of miles to our nearest neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri.

The singer, Prince, widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation, died at his recording studios in Minneapolis. The 57-year-old star, best, known for songs such as Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette, died following an accidental overdose of the painkiller, fentanyl.

At the 80th Masters tournament, England’s Danny Willett pipped American Jordan Speith to the Green Jacket at Augusta, shooting a five under par 67 in his final round to become the first British winner of the prestigious event in 20 years.

MAY

The SNP secured a historic third term in the Holyrood election but failed to secure an overall majority. The SNP won 63 seats, with the Scottish Conservatives replacing Labour as the second largest party.

A mother and her partner were found guilty of murdering two-year-old Liam Fee. Rachel Fee, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 29, denied fatally assaulting Liam, the former’s son. But in a case which shocked Scotland, the jury at the High Court in Livingston found that they had subjected the toddler to an escalating pattern of cruelty during his short life. They were also convicted of a catalogue of abuse against two other children.

The North Sea oil industry suffered another blow after Shell announced it was cutting 475 jobs, with the majority based at its headquarters in Aberdeen. The company said it had taken the decision to reduce its cost base and improve production efficiency.

One of Scotland’s best known golf clubs was widely criticised after maintaining its ban on women members in a vote described as “indefensible” and “embarrassing.” Following the decision by Muirfield’s members, the sport’s governing body, the R&A, said it would not stage the Open at a venue that refused to admit women as members.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley admitted Police Scotland was under financial pressure to provide training for forces in Sri Lanka and the UAE. With the force facing condemnation for its links to countries with poor human rights records, Mr Gormley told the MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee there were “significant” budgetary difficulties.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson revealed she and her partner, Jennifer Wilson, got engaged while on holiday in Paris.

In London, the former Labour MP Sadiq Khan beat the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith by 1,310,143 votes to 994,614 to become the city’s first Muslim mayor.

Stars including Kylie Minogue, Gary Barlow, and Katherine Jenkins performed for the Queen at a special event at Windsor Castle to mark the monarch’s 90th birthday.

Principal filming began in Edinburgh and Glasgow on the sequel to the hit 1996 film, Trainspotting.

At the 69th Cannes Film Festival, I, Daniel Blake, the acclaimed film directed by Ken Loach, won the Palme d’Or.

In Pakistan, the Taleban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was killed after the US targeted him in a drone strike. Mansour assumed the leadership of the group in July 2015, replacing Taleban founder and spiritual head, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Tragedy struck in the Mediterranean after EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed into sea, killing all 66 passengers and crew on board. The Airbus A320 had flying overnight from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, bound for Cairo International Airport.

Hibs players and fans rejoiced after the club ended their 114-year wait for Scottish Cup glory after defeating Rangers 3-2 at Hampden. The game marked the first time the final of the competition featured two teams from outside Scottish football’s top flight, although the celebrations were marred by a pitch invasion and violence.

In England, the unfancied Leicester City enjoyed a victory many thought impossible by seeing off traditional heavyweights of English football to win the Premier League.

JUNE

In a surprise decision, the UK decided to leave the EU by 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent, becoming the first country within the 59-year history of the organisation to vote to secede. While England and Wales voted strongly to leave, a significant majority of people in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain, setting in motion a political upheaval that continues to play out.

Following the historic vote for Brexit, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he was to step down from his post, saying that Britain required “fresh leadership” to negotiate the country’s exit from the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn faced the prospect of a leadership challenge after refusing to resign despite the fact more than three-quarters of Labour MPs voted to show that they had no confidence in his leadership.

Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by Thomas Mair while en route to a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. Brendan Cox, husband of the 41-year-old MP for Batley and Spen, said she would want people “to unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”

The Scottish Government announced a widening of IVF treatment, with the number of cycles women undergo increased to three. The measure also ensures that couples who have children from previous relationships will be eligible for fertility treatment on the NHS.

Holyrood voted to support an outright ban on fracking after SNP MSPs abstained. Labour tabled an amendment stating there ‘should’ be a full ban as part of an environment debate headed by Roseanna Cunningham. After SNP members abstained, the motion was passed by 32 votes to 29.

A coroner ruled that the death of an army recruit from a gunshot wound to the head at Deepcut barracks was suicide. Private Cheryl James was found dead with a bullet wound to the head in 1995. The 18-year-old was one of four recruits to die at the base in seven years. Her father, Des James, said he was “deeply saddened” and did not believe the evidence supported the conclusions of the inquest.

In the worst mass shooting in modern US history, gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing at least 49 people and injuring 53 others before being shot dead by police following a three hour standoff. “This was an act of terror and an act of hate,” said President Barack Obama.

A terror attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport killed 45 people and left more than 230 others injured. Three attackers, subsequently linked to IS, arrived at the hub in a taxi and began firing at the terminal entrance, before blowing themselves up.

One of the world’s most iconic figures, Muhammad Ali, died at the age of 73. The legendary boxer and activist’s death drew tributes from around the world.

Andy Murray reunited with Ivan Lendl, the coach credited with helping the Scot achieve some of the biggest successes in his career to date.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first major tournament of his career at the US Open. However, his victory was overshadowed by farcical circumstances after he was forced to play the final round not knowing if he would face a sanction after his ball moved on the fifth green.

JULY

After Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the Conservative leadership race, former home secretary Theresa May succeeded David Cameron as prime minister and began assembling her cabinet. Her most notable appointment was that of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.

The seven-year wait for the Chilcot Inquiry report finally came to end, with stern criticism of former prime minister Tony Blair. The inquiry’s chairman, Sir John Chilcot, said Mr Blair had overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle, and had “wholly inadequate” plans for the aftermath. He added that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was not the “last resort” action presented to MPs and the public.

The Scottish Government’s flagship Named Person scheme suffered a blow after judges at the UK’s highest court ruled against the initiative.

Judges at the Supreme Court said some proposals behind the policy, which aims to appoint a named person – usually a teacher or health visitor – to ensure the wellbeing of every child, breached rights to privacy and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Susan O’Brien, QC, the chair of the inquiry into historical child abuse in Scotland, resigned after stating that her position had been “actively undermined” by officials. In her resignation letter to deputy first minister John Swinney, she wrote: “My trust that the Scottish Government will actually respect the independence of the inquiry has gone.”

Following a five-hour debate, a majority of 355 MPs voted to replace Britain’s Trident programme. During the parliamentary motion, Theresa May confirmed she would be prepared to press the nuclear button if necessary.

Owen Smith and Angela Eagle confirmed they would challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour top job, triggering a formal leadership contest. The latter candidate pulled out of the race soon afterwards.

French energy firm EDF Energy approved funding for Hinkley Point, the UK’s first new nuclear plant in 20 years, but just as contracts are due to be designed, the government announces it is postponing a decision on whether to press ahead with the £18bn project.

Nearly 300 people are killed and around 6,000 are arrested in Turkey following an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Nice, 84 people are killed during Bastille Day celebrations after Tunisian delivery driver Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a 19-tonne lorry into crowds gathered in the city’s famous Promenade des Anglais.

Nine people are killed in Munich after teenage gunman Ali David Sonboly rampaged through a branch of fast food chain McDonald’s and into a busy shopping centre.

In the US, the presidential election race steps up a gear after Donald Trump wins the Republican Party’s nomination, with Hillary Clinton endorsed to fight for the Democrats.

Actress and comedian Caroline Aherne lost her battle with cancer aged just 52. The star was best known for The Royle Family and The Mrs Merton Show. The same month, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel died aged 87.

Andy Murray cemented his reputation as one of the world’s best tennis players after winning the Wimbledon men’s singles title for the second time, beating Canadian Milos Raonic in straight sets in the final.

At the final of the European Championships, Portugal stage an upset by defeating hosts France 1-0 in extra time at the final in Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

AUGUST

New Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) figures showed Scotland was facing a record £14.8bn black hole in the nation’s public finances as the impact of the oil industry crash continued to take its toll.

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill claimed Scotland was “set up to take the rap” for the global fall-out of the Lockerbie bombing because the country lacks the “might and power” of the international elites it was up against.

Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who nearly died after contracting Ebola in west Africa, was charged by the Nursing and Midwifery Council with concealing her high temperature when she returned to the UK.

Ross McEwan, chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, said it still planned to move its registered office out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote in any future referendum on Scottish independence.

Power firm Nova Innovation hails a renewable energy breakthrough in the race to develop viable offshore tidal stations after it deploys the world’s first fully operational tidal power turbines in the Bluemull Sound in Shetland.

Westminster’s culture committee said the BBC should press ahead with plans for an hour-long TV news programme, commonly referred to as the “Scottish Six”. BBC Scotland has produced pilots for such a programme, which could replace Reporting Scotland and the Six O’Clock News in Scotland.

More than 28,000 Scottish applicants celebrated getting to university on a record-breaking day of exam results which saw the highest-ever proportion of 18-year-olds entering higher education.

The last remaining 22 BHS stores closed their doors for the final time, ending the chain’s 88-year presence on the High Street after administrators failed to find a buyer. The fall-out saw criticism levelled at former owners Dominic Chappell and Sir Philip Green for mismanaging the chain and failing to protect its company pension scheme.

The Bank of England cut interest rates from 0.5 per cent to 0.25 per cent, a record low and the first cut since 2009. It also signalled that rates could go lower if the economy worsens.

Anjem Choudary, one of the most notorious hate preachers living in Britain, is found guilty of supporting IS. A jury at the Old Bailey heard he had sworn an oath of allegiance to the terror group.

299 people are killed and around 400 others are injured after a magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck in central Italy. Towns and villages were damaged in the regions of Lazio, Le Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo, with the epicentre of a quake about four kilometres north-east of Norcia.

Gene Wilder, the comic actor who starred in classic films including The Producers and Blazing Saddles, died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The performer, who played the title role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, was 83.

At the Rio Olympics, Team GB finish second in the medal table with a 27 golds, 23 silvers, and 17 bronze medals, its best performance in 108 years. Scottish Olympians in the Brazilian city also secured the country’s best-ever medal haul from an overseas Games.

SEPTEMBER

Jeremy Corbyn vowed to “wipe the slate clean” after winning a convincing victory in Labour’s acrimonious leadership contest, securing 61.8 per cent of the vote against Owen to Smith’s 38.2 per cent. Speaking after the result, Mr Corbyn said: “We have much more in common than that which divides us.”

Only two months after stepping down as prime minister, David Cameron announced his resignation as an MP, stating that he did not want his disagreements with Theresa May to become a “distraction” for the Conservative government.

Glasgow East MP Natalie McGarry was charged with embezzlement following a ten-month long investigation by police. The 35-year-old was one of 56 SNP MPs elected in the 2015 General Election, but withdrew from the party whip following allegations about a potential financial discrepancy in the accounts of the Women for Independence campaign group.

The veteran Labour MP Keith Vaz resigned as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee after newspaper claims he paid for the services of two male escorts.

Deputy first minister John Swinney announced the Scottish Government had delayed the Named Person scheme after July’s Supreme Court ruling. Mr Swinney told Holyrood there would be a process of “intense engagement” on necessary amendments to the scheme.

New figures revealed that local authorities have been given £140m for childcare by the Scottish Government which has not been spent on childcare.

The Home Office said the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre, near Strathaven, is to be closed towards the end of 2017.

The hit Scottish comedy show Still Game returned to the television screens after almost a decade, with 1.3 million viewers tuning in to see the first episode of the new series.

Pauline Cafferkey is cleared of misconduct charges by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Her lawyer said there had been “serious failures in communication” amongst Public Health England staff.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took part in the first televised presidential debate.

North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency in Charlotte after violence erupted during protests over the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, the third black man to have been killed by US police in the space of a week.

The UN Security Council agreed to begin drawing up new sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang carried out its fifth nuclear test, its biggest yet.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile brought in from Russia and fired from a village under the control of pro-Russian separatists, a team of international prosecutors announced. All 298 people on board the flight were killed when it went down in July 2014.

Mother Teresa, revered for her work with the poor in India, was proclaimed a saint by Pope Francis in a ceremony at the Vatican. Tens of thousands of pilgrims descended on St Peter’s Square for the Mass and canonisation.

Controversial footballer Joey Barton was sent home from training after an argument with a teammate.

Less than week later, the club announced it had suspended the 34-year-old midfielder for three weeks.

The Scottish national women’s football team celebrated qualifying for the first major tournament.

Portugal’s defeat of Finland ensured Anna Signeul’s side would be taking part in the Euro 2017 tournament in the

Netherlands.

OCTOBER

The Scottish government published its draft bill on a second independence referendum. The move does not guarantee another referendum will take place, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland should be ready to hold a vote before the UK leaves the EU if it is felt necessary to protect Scottish interests.

In a speech at the annual Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she will trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, setting in motion the two-year long Brexit process.

The UK government approved plans to build a third runway at Heathrow to expand UK airport capacity. The controversial decision split the cabinet, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson describing the project as “undeliverable.”

John Leathem, who stabbed 15-year-old Paige Doherty to death at his deli in Clydebank, was jailed for a minimum of 27 years at the High Court in Glasgow. The 32-year-old stabbed the teenager 61 times.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled against a challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association and wine-makers to the Scottish Government’s plan for a minimum price for alcohol. Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, ruled that the policy did not contravene European law.

Ronnie Coulter, from Wishaw, was convicted of the 1998 murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar after being tried for a second time. The 48-year-old was originally cleared of stabbing the 32-year-old in Overtown, North Lanarkshire, following a trial in 1999.

Footballer Ched Evans was found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room. The striker was originally found guilty of rape at Caernarfon Crown Court in 2012, but his conviction was quashed in April. He was found not guilty of the same charge after a retrial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Ukip leader Diane James quit her role after just 18 days in job, claiming that she did not have “sufficient authority, nor the full support” of the party’s MEPs and officers.

Legendary singer Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first songwriter to win the prestigious prize.

FBI director James Carney announced the bureau was reopening its investigation into emails linked to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, sparking a political storm just a few days before the US election. The same month, a videotape emerged showing Donald Trump boasting of groping and kissing women without consent.

Thousands of people were left temporarily homeless after Italy’s most powerful earthquake in 36 years. The magnitude of the quake, which struck north of the town of Norcia in Umbria, was recorded by the US Geological Service at 6.6, with a depth of six miles.

In a surprise referendum result, voters in Colombia rejected a peace deal to end 52 years of war with the Farc guerrilla group. President Juan Manuel Santos said he accepted the result but would continue working to achieve peace.

France announced it had completed an operation to remove thousands of migrants from the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais.

Pete Burns, the singer with pop band Dead Or Alive died aged 57 after suffered a “massive cardiac arrest,” his management said. Jean Alexander, the actress best known for her roles as Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street and Auntie Wainwright in Last of the Summer Wine, died three days after celebrating her 90th birthday.

The US ended Europe’s run of victories in the Ryder Cup after winning 17-11 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

Tennis star Jamie Murray was awarded an OBE by the Queen for services to his sport and charity.

NOVEMBER

In one of the greatest upsets in modern political history, billionaire and Republican candidate Donald Trump defied the odds, polls and commentators to win the US presidency. The 70-year-old, whose campaign was amongst the most divisive in living memory, promised to “bind the wounds of division” following his victory. Just two days before the election, the FBI said it had found no evidence of criminality in a new batch of Hillary Clinton emails.
Thomas Mair, a rightwing extremist, was sentenced to prison for the rest of his life for the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox. The 53-year-old, who repeatedly shot and stabbed the politician, made no effort to defend himself at his trial at the Old Bailey.

Three judges at the High Court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 by March 2017 without parliament’s support. However, Ms May said she was confident that the UK government would win its appeal against the decision.

A succession of former footballers spoke out about sexual abuse they had suffered as children, sparking a major investigation into historic abuse within the British game.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon announced that eight military sites in Scotland, including major Army bases such as Fort George in the Highlands, will be closed over the next 16 years as part of efforts to reduce the size of the defence estate by a fifth.

A fatal accident inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Ciaran Williamson, who was killed when a headstone fell on him at a cemetery in the Cardonald area of Glasgow, heard that up to 900 headstones at the site were deemed unsafe days after the tragedy in May 2015.

The Belgian firm Ageas said it was consulting on the closure of its Kwik Fit insurance services office in Uddingston, putting more than 500 jobs at risk.

The Accounts Commission watchdog warned that over a third of Scotland’s 32 local authorities will face a funding gap by 2018 that is larger than their reserves

Skyscanner, the Edinburgh-headquartered travel search business, was bought by Ctrip, China’s biggest online travel firm, in a deal worth around £1.4 billion.

Organisers of T in the Park, Scotland’s biggest musical festival, confirmed the event will not be held in 2017, citing logistical and financial constraints due to planning conditions.

Scientists monitoring the North Pole revealed temperatures near there are 20C warmer than the average for the time of year.

Iraqi soldiers advancing on the IslamicState-held town of Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul, discovered a mass grave containing an estimated 100 or so decapitated bodies.

Fidel Castro, one of the most recognisable figures of the 20th century, died at the age of 90. The death of Cuba’s former president prompted outpourings of grief and celebrations across Cuba and the US.

Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter whose work spanned nearly half a century, died at the age of 82. The broadcasting world mourned the loss of Sir Jimmy Young, who entertained Radio 2 listeners for more than three decades. He was 95.

Andy Murray said he felt “very proud” to become the first British singles player to be world number one since computerised rankings began in 1973.

In an historic and highly-charged win, the Chicago Cubs triumphed in Major League Baseball’s World Series, the first time the side had emerged victorious in the contest since 1908.

Rangers announced they had agreed to terminate the contract of midfielder Joey Barton with immediate effect.

DECEMBER

Scotland’s schools recorded their worst ever performance in an international survey of pupils. For the first time since the tests began, the country’s scores for maths, reading and science were classed as “average”, with none “above average” in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment figures.

Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, apologised for failing to properly deal with a past allegation of abuse against a youth coach and assistant referee. Elsewhere, Jim McCafferty, a former Celtic youth coach, was arrested by police in Northern Ireland over allegations of sexual offences against children. The SFA later announce an inquiry into child sexual abuse.

The Supreme Court held a historic four day-long hearing over Brexit to determine who has the ability to trigger it. The 11 justices at the court are currently considering their judgement on whether the UK government or parliament has that power.

MP Michelle Thomson gave an emotive address at a House of Commons debate on violence against women, revealing she was raped at the age of 14.

Relatives of those who died in the 2014 Glasgow bin lorry crash failed in their attempt to bring a private prosecution against the driver of the vehicle.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay pledged a funding increase of £240m for local services as part of his draft budget, but critics warned the amount of money going to local authorities would fall in real terms.

Legislation making it illegal to smoke in a car with anyone under the age of 18 came into force in Scotland.

More than prisoners are moved out of HMP Birmingham following a 12-hour riot at the jail. Inmates took over four wings and started fires in the incident, which left one man hospitalised.

The Liberal Democrats scored a surprise by-election victory after Sarah Olney defeated former Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith.

In international news, 12 people were killed and 49 others injured after a lorry was driven through crowds gathered at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market in Berlin. Islamic State said one of its militants carried out the attack, but offered no evidence.

Across the Atlantic, President-elect Donald Trump picked a fight with CIA after describing its assessment that Russian hackers tried to influence the US election in his favour as “ridiculous.”

The United Nations said it had reliable evidence that at least 82 civilians were shot on sight by Syrian pro-government forces in Aleppo, with women and children among the victims. Thousands of people, including dozens of orphans, later left the besieged city in one of its biggest evacuations yet.

The actor, Andrew Sachs, beloved for his role as the Spanish waiter, Manuel, in Fawlty Towers, died at the age of 86. The former astronaut and US senator, John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth, died aged 95. AA Gill, the award-winning journalist and critic, died less than a month after revealing he was seriously ill with cancer in his newspaper column. He was 62.

In Scotland, the political community mourned the loss of two longstanding Conservative figures. Alex Johnstone, a member of the Scottish Parliament since 1999, died at the age of 55, while Allan Stewart, the former MP who served as a junior minister in the Scotland Office under Margaret Thatcher, died aged 74.

In sport, the Scottish Football Association’s appointment of Malky Mackay as its new performance director prompts a backlash following the well publicised and controversial texts he sent while employed as Cardiff City manager.

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