{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"news","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/s-karly-kehoe-debora-b-f-kayembe-and-shawki-al-dubaee-academic-refugees-have-much-to-offer-countries-which-give-them-a-safe-haven-1-4664819","id":"1.4664819","articleHeadline": "S. Karly Kehoe, Debora B. F. Kayembe and Shawki Al-Dubaee: Academic refugees have much to offer countries which give them a safe haven","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516271535000 ,"articleLead": "

Imagine what it would feel like if you had your career ripped out from under you. If you had your entire life’s work destroyed by people who feared your critical appraisal. How would you feel if, all of the sudden, you became a ­target for violence or retribution just because you worked at a university and were considered to have intellectual ­abilities?

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "S. Karly Kehoe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland"} ,"articleBody": "

In 2016, the Royal Society of ­Edinburgh’s Young Academy of ­Scotland (YAS) decided to recognise the rights of academic researchers and practitioners fleeing conflict by introducing the at-risk academic and refugee membership initiative (ARAR). Founded in 2011, YAS brings together the next generation of Scotland’s talent and its mission is to achieve transformative societal change through citizenship, ­innovation, collaboration, evidence and leadership.

According to the UN, the number of people displaced worldwide due to war and conflict has now topped 65 million. The Geneva Convention defined a refugee as someone who is displaced, has been forced to cross national borders and who ­cannot return home safely. To receive ­refugee status, a person must have applied for asylum, making them an asylum seeker while awaiting a ­decision.

A displaced person, even though legally entitled to refugee status, ­cannot apply for asylum and is excluded from official asylum seeker status. The United Kingdom has adopted the Geneva Convention as well as the two additional protocols which states that people whose ­liberty has been restricted shall, if made to work, have the benefit of working conditions and safeguards similar to those enjoyed by the local civilian population.

When YAS inducted the first four ARAR members into its wider ­membership of 126 in 2016, it became the first young academy in the world to welcome these professionals into its ranks. In taking this bold, but ­necessary step, the YAS membership not only acknowledged the potential of these colleagues to make outstanding and meaningful contributions to the future prosperity of Scotland, but it committed to helping them to regain some of the social and professional capital that they had lost during their displacement.

If we exclude these professionals, we run the risk of losing out on what they would have accomplished or on the discoveries they might have made. For the academic researchers and practitioners, accessing the ­networks needed to recover their careers is vital but, more often than not, what they experience is a long corridor of closed doors. Some also have additional needs including building stronger language skills, understanding the academic culture and, at a basic level, settling their ­families into a routine and trying to establish a level of normality.

Living in the global north, many of us have no idea that this is the ­reality for many people. Many more of us have no awareness of the fact that some of these at-risk scholars are now our neighbours.

When we do find out about them, though, it is incumbent upon us and the organisations we represent to find ways of sharing our resources and of making space for them in our networks, ­universities and social circles. It is also important that we find ways of considering and evaluating fairly their academic qualifications and that we establish systems to either recognise them as being on par, where possible, or provide routes to enable upgrading.

At a panel at the recent Protecting the Rights of Individuals Fleeing Conflict symposium organised by the Committee on Human Rights of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, legal health and human rights advocate Leonard Rubenstein made the point that “you don’t have to grant rights to recognise rights”.

Building resilient societies, as ­countries like Scotland, Canada and others seek to do, requires us to look for and capture talent wherever we find it. It also requires us to have a moral compass and to extend the hand of friendship to newcomers. YAS seeks to build empathy among the scholarly ­community and use that to ­create meaningful opportunities for ­integration. This is an essential part of keeping research fresh and ­progressive. While governments have a major role to play in enabling this, we, as individuals, must bear some of the responsibility. You can read more about YAS’s work, and our current ARAR member recruitment round, on our website: https://www.youngacademyofscotland.org.uk/.

S. Karly Kehoe, Debora B. F. Kayembe and Shawki Al-Dubaee, members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "S. Karly Kehoe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "S. Karly Kehoe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664817.1516271530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664817.1516271530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shawki Al-Dubaee, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shawki Al-Dubaee, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664817.1516271530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664818.1516271532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664818.1516271532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Debora B. F. Kayembe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Debora B. F. Kayembe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664818.1516271532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/poll-most-scots-back-snp-s-tax-rise-plan-1-4664721","id":"1.4664721","articleHeadline": "Poll: most Scots back SNP’s tax rise plan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516270571000 ,"articleLead": "

A majority of Scots back Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to raise income tax to help fund public services, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4636236.1516270567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay"} ,"articleBody": "

Research for The Times by YouGov found that 54 per cent of those interviewed supported the first minister’s proposal to increase income tax.

The poll findings come after Derek Mackay, the finance secretary, announced significant changes to income tax rates, introducing two more bands and changing the rates of the existing bands.

READ MORE: SNP MSP hails ‘economic impact’ of Robert Burns

If Mr Mackay’s budget is passed this year, all Scots earning more than £26,000 would pay more than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK from April.

YouGov pollsters found that 54 per cent of those who took part in the survey supported the move, 27 per cent opposed it and 19 per cent did not know. A third said they thought the idea was “unfair”.

There was no difference in opinion between the age groups but more women supported the plans than men, and even one in four Conservative voters - 24 per cent - were in favour.

Mr Mackay said: “As this poll and others have shown, a majority of Scots support the SNP’s progressive tax reforms that will allow us to invest in our schools and hospitals.

“The SNP is on the side of Scotland’s taxpayers ensuring that 70 per cent pay less and that Scotland has the fairest taxed system in the UK. I hope other parties will now back our tax plans.”

James Kelly, the Glasgow Labour MSP, said: “This confirms that Scots are in favour of a more progressive system of taxation.

“However, the support for these proposals cannot be accurately considered at this time. That is because Derek Mackay’s tax plan will not stop cuts to lifeline local services. Poll after poll has shown Scots are willing to pay more tax to fund public services. Instead, Derek Mackay has tinkered around the edges and delivered a plan which will just mean more cuts.”

READ MORE: Poll: Majority of Scots don’t want Indyref2 in next five years

Murdo Fraser, finance spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Making Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK won’t just hit people in the pocket, it will damage the economy too.

“It will stunt growth and hand an advantage to our competitors. That all means less cash for vital public services like schools, hospitals and roads.”

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4636236.1516270567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4636236.1516270567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4636236.1516270567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5636791963001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/kenny-macaskill-migrants-help-make-scotland-a-cultural-melting-pot-1-4664194","id":"1.4664194","articleHeadline": "Kenny MacAskill: Migrants help make Scotland a cultural melting pot","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516255200000 ,"articleLead": "

Migration is the issue of our time, convulsing many countries as war and climate change wreak havoc. Fortress Britain is no more defensible than Fortress Europe, and an Immigration Home Guard is as ludicrous as Trump’s Wall.

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Migration is the issue of our time, convulsing many countries as war and climate change wreak havoc. Fortress Britain is no more defensible than Fortress Europe, and an Immigration Home Guard is as ludicrous as Trump’s Wall.

The solution is ultimately to take steps to address the problems at source, so that people needn’t flee seeking sanctuary. But that’s not happening any time soon and issues remain with economic migrants – something Scots and Brits have been for centuries but memories are short and selective. So, action on controlling immigration is needed.

It is also best for nations to deal with major movements of people collectively, rather than individually. An irony of Brexit is that it was brought about through fears over immigration, yet the EU is moving towards far tougher controls. Many of the restrictions wanted by Brexiteers will be available or delivered anyway within the EU. Even the liberal and welcoming regimes in Sweden and Germany are feeling the challenge and action will be taken.

READ MORE: Report calls for ‘bespoke immigration policy’ for Scotland

For, action there has to be. Every nation requires an immigration policy as an open-door plan is socially and politically unacceptable. Racism has rightly to be condemned and requires to be opposed at every opportunity. But concerns over immigration are perfectly understandable and need to be addressed in a manner that is conciliatory, whilst challenging all the same.

Some of the fears are legitimate and many more concerns are perfectly reasonable. It doesn’t mean that these people are racist, just worried as some pressures mount and the society they are used to changes around them. Simply berating them for supposed shameful attitudes is more likely to drive them into the hands of racists than lure them away. That applies not just in Sweden or Germany but in England and even Scotland.

That’s why Jeremy Corbyn and Labour south of the border were right to change tack and acknowledge the concerns of many in deprived parts of England. It’s easy to be condemnatory when you’re comfortable and neither affected nor threatened by it. They were condemned by the SNP, yet they would seek to do likewise if the issues were as great here, as they are in many deprived parts south of the border.

Folk are the same the world over. In the main they seek to be warm and welcoming but can be cold and resentful if they feel threatened. The pressures are less in Scotland than south of the border, as they are worse in the east rather than the more affluent west of Germany. I recall as Justice Secretary meeting my Irish counterpart and in a discussion on immigration said that Scotland’s history of emigration mitigated against the imposition of tighter rules. A rather naïve and pompous thing to say to a minister from a land equally afflicted by that historical curse but also with enduring difficulties. He simply, and far too kindly, said “you’ll change”.

READ MORE: Paris Gourtsoyannis: Why we are all immigrants

So, it was good to see the statement and comments from the First Minister about a Scottish Immigration policy. They were sensible and stateswoman-like in both tone and policy. As every nation requires an immigration policy, so no country’s immigration policy can be entirely independent. Each country has to take cognisance of its situation and that of its neighbours.

The policy of the Republic of Ireland required to be tempered by both its land border with Northern Ireland and the Common Travel Area (CTA) it operated with the United Kingdom. Whilst it was distinct, it wasn’t entirely separate as to open a policy gap would have adversely impacted on the UK.

That would have jeopardised both the absence of a hard border and the CTA. Brexit has threatened that but a completely independent immigration policy – separate from the interests of the UK – there will not be. An independent Scotland would be likewise. However, that doesn’t mean that a devolved Scotland cannot have a distinct policy within the UK. After all, it happens in both Australia and Canada. The policy that operated in South Australia seemed apposite for Scotland. It had a demographic problem with Sydney and Melbourne, the desired destinations for immigrants. Accordingly, it was made easier to migrate to South Australia but with criteria that a set number of years required to be spent there. Seek to simply depart for one of the bigger more popular cities and you could be deported. But, arriving and settling, gaining work and sending the kids to school, meant that most stayed on. There’s no reason why that couldn’t work successfully in Scotland and indeed to England’s benefit. They have areas under considerable pressure, whereas we have population needs. Allowing them to come here, eases it for them and helps us. If immigrants abuse it then sanctions could be imposed but as in “Down Under” most might find they like it and stay. So, Nicola Sturgeon was right to raise the issue – even Westminster committees are seeing the possible benefits. What was also welcome in her comments was the arguments she used. It’s not enough to simply warn of economic disaster if we don’t allow immigration. For sure, there are real challenges and they’re already being felt in many areas of the economy. But, just as doom and disaster didn’t work with Brexit, they won’t work with immigration.

This is why her arguments for the social benefits of immigration were welcome. Our society has changed and for the better with past waves of immigration from Italy and Ireland but also with recent ones from Poland and elsewhere. For our society has also changed. Many years ago, I went out with an American girl for quite a while and had a dalliance with a New Zealand lass, perhaps reflecting the links that existed then. Now, my nephew lives with a Polish girl and my youngest son with a German lass.

That’s modern Scotland and those young women make our country a better place. It’s not just about our economy but our society and it’s why there needs to be a Scottish immigration policy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kenny MacAskill"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664193.1516206725!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664193.1516206725!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Every nation requires an immigration policy as an open-door plan is socially and politically unacceptable\\nPicture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Every nation requires an immigration policy as an open-door plan is socially and politically unacceptable\\nPicture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664193.1516206725!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/bill-jamieson-carillion-s-failure-was-necessary-nationalisation-isn-t-1-4664410","id":"1.4664410","articleHeadline": "Bill Jamieson: Carillion’s failure was necessary, nationalisation isn’t","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516255200000 ,"articleLead": "

The demise of the corporate behemoth Carillion is no argument for nationalisation, writes Bill Jamieson.

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Few more tasty dishes could have been served up to Jeremy Corbyn than the collapse of Carillion, the construction and services behemoth.

Tens of thousands of jobs at risk, hundreds of small firms facing bankruptcy over unpaid bills and critical public services from hospitals to schools facing uncertainty.

What more damning exposure could there be of public-sector outsourcing and private-sector failure? Carillion’s handling of numerous projects came under criticism and maintenance contracts were withdrawn. Three public profit warnings in five months were issued last year – but ignored by the UK Government, which continued to award Carillion huge contracts. Once again, it seems, the capitalist model has failed.

New contracts were taken on in the hope that extra revenues would make good the shortfalls in existing ones – a giant Ponzi scheme in effect. Meanwhile Carillion’s management kept shelling out millions in dividends to shareholders while the group’s pensions deficit ballooned.

READ MORE: What Carillion collapse means to Scotland

Enough, already! The solution is blindingly obvious: bring all those infrastructure projects and long-term public service contracts in-house, to be overseen and managed by the public sector, cutting out the need for profits to finance dividends, fees to banks and costly advisors – and bringing to an end the fat cat pay circus. That’s one way of summing up this corporate debacle. But there’s another. This is not a “failure of capitalism” but an object lesson in how sanction and penalty should work to enforce reform. On this perspective, Carillion is a necessary failure. It sends a clear and salutary signal on the constant dangers of aggressive ambition and over-reach, while reinforcing the cautionary principle that should govern all undertakings: mind that you do not bite off more than you can chew – you may choke to death. A set of searing post-mortems is now underway – as well they should – questioning the award of government contracts, the project accounting system, the oversight of so-called watchdogs and auditors, and above all the Carillion management.

These may take many months. For not least of the questions to be explored is how this company, the UK’s second largest construction concern with a £1.5 billion debt pile, was allowed to grow so big.

The scale of Carillion’s operations almost beggars belief. Contracts embraced institutions from the Royal Opera House, Library of Birmingham and Tate Modern to the controversial HS2 high-speed rail line and the headquarters of GCHQ.

READ MORE: Darren McGarvey: Carillion – giants of capitalism or scroungers?

Built up through the acquisition of parts of Tarmac, Mowlem, Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine, it came to hold some 450 government contracts spanning the departments of Education, Justice, Defence and Transport. Its projects included the running of libraries under the fanciful brand name “Cultural Community Solutions”. Amey Housing took on the maintenance of some 50,000 army homes across the UK. Contracts worth between £700 million and £1bn in total. Last year a report by the Public Accounts Committee described the group’s performance for the MoD as “totally unacceptable”.

Carillion maintained approximately half of the UK’s prisons and Young Offender Institutions – again, widely criticised by independent monitoring boards. Two major hospital building contracts have fallen behind schedule, while responsibility for handling the delivery of school meals in Oxfordshire has now been handed to firefighters. Critical issues need to be explored here, three in particular. The first relates to the culture within Carillion – but is by no means confined to it – that encouraged aggressive fixed-price contract bidding to secure business and the booking of profits before contracts (with inevitable cost over-runs) were completed.

Second is who, if anyone, in government had overall oversight of the totality of all the public sector contracts and projects that Carillion was taking on. And who was checking on the competence of Carillion’s finances and its management to handle them? The third relates to the banks, City institutions and investors who for the past 30 years sought to dismantle the corporate behemoth conglomerates and mouthed the mantra of focused business models: no management, the mantra insisted, could possibly have a uniformity of competence across many disparate activities.

Yet multi-contract corporates such as Carillion and Interserve sprang up amid all this, with fund managers and analysts extolling the so-called ‘defensive’ qualities of these all-purpose infrastructure and service models – just so long as they paid the dividends. Ever-rising order intake seemed to be the only metric that mattered, blinding them to issues of managerial competence – and of course, ever-rising debt. As for the £600m pension fund deficit, who seemed much concerned about that, such was the flawed culture within Carillion?

While the post-mortems get underway, it is tempting to urge that public service contracts are now brought in-house and managed by central and local government: tempting, but blind to past experience. The land is littered with examples of public sector failure – projects that overran massively such as Edinburgh’s trams, rail line extensions that billowed in cost, buildings that fell years behind schedule, poor workmanship, inefficiency and wasted resources.

No public sector approach can ever be total, for which local authority can afford a fully staffed, full-time, multi-skilled and multi-specialist workforce to meet all contingencies? Heavy assurances would be given that small-scale outsourcing would be allowed to enable contracts to be undertaken and completed with confidence. But for years, small and medium-sized enterprises have railed against the exclusive nature of public sector procurement.

Nowhere has this complaint been louder than in Scotland, where the business community has constantly lobbied government ministers for a more equitable slice of the pie. Qualification hurdles working against small firms can range from lack of historic track record to size of balance sheet and gender and diversity requirements. All these can effectively bar all but the biggest private sector firms from bidding for contracts. The system favours the biggies. But, hey, isn’t this where we came in? The path out of this trap inevitably involves pain: sanction, behaviour change and cultural shake-up. In this respect ‘capitalism’ must be allowed to work: managers and government agencies brought to account, and business models obliged to reform and adapt.

Seventeen years ago, the US – that epitome of unbridled capitalism – threw the book at the gross corporate mismanagement at the corporate giants Enron and WorldCom. Government did not step into ‘rescue’ them but instead ensured that market sanction had its chastening effect. That is why Carillion is indeed a necessary failure and why the sanction of bankruptcy and searching inquest must apply. Just as an enterprise system should reward success, it needs also to penalise failure – the endgame business seeks to avoid.

There is every reason to despair at what has happened, but every reason, too, for hope that Carillion will stand as a lesson that will bring about a chastened but more responsible business culture.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bill Jamieson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664409.1516219329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664409.1516219329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Carillion's collapse was spectacular and questions must be asked, but the answer is not nationalisation (Picture: SWNS)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Carillion's collapse was spectacular and questions must be asked, but the answer is not nationalisation (Picture: SWNS)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664409.1516219329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/tom-peterkin-tory-tin-ear-on-scotland-is-fuelling-power-grab-row-1-4664421","id":"1.4664421","articleHeadline": "Tom Peterkin: Tory tin ear on Scotland is fuelling ‘power grab’ row","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516255200000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK Government’s failure to meet a deadline to amend legislation to devolve some EU powers to Scotland after Brexit may play into the SNP’s hands but a deal can still be struck, writes Tom Peterkin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664420.1516219868!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson's frustration with Conservative party leaders at Westminster has boiled over into public view in recent days (Picture: Greg Macvean)"} ,"articleBody": "

The tortuous process of extricating the United Kingdom from the European Union appears to be triggering quite an array of responses from Conservative politicians.

A few days ago the Scottish Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw complained – only half in jest methinks – that the prospect of speaking in a Brexit-related debate gave him a migraine.

The eleventh day devoted to debating Brexit in the House of Commons proved all a bit much for dear old Sir Desmond Swayne, who very publicly nodded off while the finer points of EU withdrawal were being discussed. The Brexiteer blamed the rigours of an early morning swim in the Serpentine rather than weariness with the arch-Europhile Ken Clarke, who happened to be speaking at the time.

For Ruth Davidson the over-riding emotion of the moment has been frustration.

READ MORE: Adam Tomkins: How to avoid a Brexit ‘power grab’ crisis

In a series of interviews, the Scottish Conservative leader has expressed her exasperation at the UK Government’s lack of progress when it comes to setting out which EU powers will come to Holyrood.

Ms Davidson’s frustration is widespread across the Scottish party and nearly boiled over on Tuesday night when Conservative MPs from north of the border complained vociferously about the behaviour of the UK Government.

The frustration stemmed from Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s admission earlier this month that changes to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which deals with devolution, had been delayed.

As it stands, Clause 11 would result in 111 powers in devolved areas being retained by Westminster when they are transferred from the EU.

This state of affairs that has led to long-standing SNP claims that Theresa May’s administration is undermining devolution by indulging in a power grab at the expense of the Scottish Parliament.

READ MORE: Tommy Sheppard: Brexit bill is the power grab of the century

Scottish Conservatives have been acutely alert to these criticisms and, in fact, the UK Government agrees that a substantial raft of powers should come to Holyrood, aside for those best dealt with across a common UK framework.

Therefore the missed deadline is a source of embarrassment, as is the fact that the changes to Clause 11 will be brought forward in the House of Lords rather than the Commons.

Hence Ms Davidson’s frustration and some forthright remarks in the House of Commons chamber from Stirling Tory MP Stephen Kerr.

“It sticks in my craw,” said Mr Kerr. “It’s not really good enough and as a member of the House of Commons I hang my head to think that we have somehow dropped the ball.”

Mr Kerr lamented the lost opportunity to make the changes and thereby “pull the rug from under” the SNP’s “squalid argument”.

His frustration was palpable. “It would have shown them (the SNP) up as the creators of grievance rather than giving grievance a voice,” he said. “The [UK] Government had control of the timetable. The deadlines were created by them, but they have let this chamber down by not delivering on what they promised.”

With the Scottish Tories now a force at Westminster thanks to the swelling of their ranks to 13 MPs and Mrs May’s failure to win an outright majority, the UK Government should listen to the likes of Mr Kerr.

The problem for Mr Kerr and his Tory colleagues north of the border, however, is that the UK Government appears to have a bit of a tin ear when it comes to matters Scottish.

UK ministers should remember that sorting out the Irish border is not the only constitutional hurdle that has to be overcome when exiting the EU. The politics of Scotland and Wales have to be taken into account when devising Brexit strategies.

Scottish Conservative sources say it was the sudden departure of Damian Green from Mrs May’s Cabinet, rather than ignorance of Scottish politics, that has led to the current situation. Mr Green, they say, was adept at over-ruling Whitehall officials whose default position was for powers to go London.

Whatever the reason, missing the Clause 11 deadline gives the SNP ammunition and complicates an already complex situation.

Much of the frustration felt in Tory circles north of the border is down to a feeling that progress is being undermined. Last year there was a suggestion that talks between the Scottish and UK Governments were unusually constructive. A more collegiate atmosphere was evident in negotiations and it seemed as though Scottish Tory attempts to act as honest broker between the two governments was bearing fruit.

The Clause 11 public relations foul-up has rather spoiled that atmosphere, but the Scottish Tory insiders say there is still optimism that a ‘more powers’ deal can be struck.

Their optimism is based on the notion that striking a deal will suit both governments in one way or another. Mr Mundell has promised that Brexit will bring a “powers bonanza” to Holyrood. The Tory calculation is that the SNP may be critical of any arrangement short of outright independence, but will generally support moves that help make the Scottish Parliament more powerful.

As one senior Scottish Conservative put it yesterday, if a more powers deal fails to materialise the SNP has nowhere to go other than a second independence referendum.

With a YouGov poll suggesting yesterday that only 36 per cent of Scots want another independence vote in the next five years, calling indyref2 is a gamble – a massive gamble that would wake Sir Desmond Swayne from his slumbers and do little for Jackson Carlaw’s migraine.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664420.1516219868!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664420.1516219868!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson's frustration with Conservative party leaders at Westminster has boiled over into public view in recent days (Picture: Greg Macvean)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson's frustration with Conservative party leaders at Westminster has boiled over into public view in recent days (Picture: Greg Macvean)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664420.1516219868!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/kevan-christie-this-year-s-flu-isn-t-australian-1-4664412","id":"1.4664412","articleHeadline": "Kevan Christie: This year’s flu isn’t Australian","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516255200000 ,"articleLead": "

The current furore around the outbreak of so-called Aussie flu has led to outlandish comparisons with the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 which claimed the lives of around 50 million people.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664411.1516219340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The take-up of the flu vaccine has been too low (Picture: SWNS)"} ,"articleBody": "

Like hurricanes an outbreak of flu isn’t deemed to be serious unless it is given a name – in this case a country with a tenuous link to the virus.

Spanish flu, the H1N1 strain of the bug, was given its name primarily due to the fact that it received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918. The Spanish were not involved in the First World War and had not imposed wartime censorship like the Allied forces.

The epicentre of worldwide pandemic is actually thought to have been a major troop staging post and hospital in war-torn France.

Aussie flu, a series of H3N2 viruses, was particularly strong in Australia and Hong Kong from June through to August last year. It is said to be responsible for the death of 300 Australians, while 170,000 people were affected.

These viruses were seen in the UK during the winters of 2014/15 and 2016/17 and in each of these two winters it had a considerable impact in Scotland. So it’s not new and it’s not really got anything particularly to do with Australia – it’s basically the flu.

READ MORE: Scottish A&E wait times soar to new high as flu rates jump

The World Health Organisation says the current rate of influenza in the UK is considered to be ‘medium activity’ at present and higher than the rate seen at the same time last year. Not exactly a pandemic then.

In Scotland, the flu rate for the first week of 2018 was four times higher than the same week last year with statistics from Health Protection Scotland showing 107 Scots in every 100,000 of the population were diagnosed with the virus in the week ending January 7. New figures for the flu are out later today so we’ll know if the virus is spreading.

Tragically, eight Scots have died as a result of complications caused by the disease, including 18-year-old Bethany Walker, from Applecross in the Highlands.

Other than the most vulnerable groups, the flu will leave the rest of us miserable but, as the NHS suggests, plenty of bed rest, staying hydrated and using Ibuprofen for any aches or pains should see you over the worst.

However, questions remain around this year’s vaccination process in Scotland.

READ MORE: Calls to make free flu jab ‘a priority’

While children receive a protective nasal spray at school and pensioners are entitled to the jab on the NHS, adults who do not have long-term health problems are not routinely innoculated.

NHS staff are also offered a free vaccination but this year only 40 per cent of them have had the jab.

This is lower than chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood would like but she believes this is something that should not be mandatory and I tend to agree.

Apart from in war-zones, employers can’t be sticking needles in the arms of their staff, even if they think it’s for the greater good.

What’s of wider concern is the lack of take-up in the under 65s considered “at risk”. This year’s vaccine is believed to be a good match for the current strains of flu virus, but has been met with general apathy.

Professor Harry McQuillan, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland, has said there has been a “missed opportunity” in not getting pharmacists to administer the vaccinations.

Predictably, this all comes back to a familiar tale of under-pressure GPs and NHS staff struggling to cope.

Here’s hoping lessons are learnt next winter.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664411.1516219340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664411.1516219340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The take-up of the flu vaccine has been too low (Picture: SWNS)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The take-up of the flu vaccine has been too low (Picture: SWNS)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664411.1516219340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/leader-comment-rude-uk-must-learn-from-macron-s-bayeux-diplomacy-1-4664414","id":"1.4664414","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Rude UK must learn from Macron’s Bayeux diplomacy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516255200000 ,"articleLead": "

Emmanuel Macron has just given Britain a masterclass in diplomacy. His announcement that the Bayeux Tapestry will be loaned to the UK has already created a significant stir. Just imagine what it will be like when the 950-year-old artefact actually arrives.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664413.1516219346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Bayeux Tapestry would be 'probably the most significant' loan of art by France to the UK, according to the British Museum (Picture: PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

In contrast, British politicians involved in the Brexit process have been calling our European allies “the enemy” (Philip Hammond), telling them to “go whistle” (Boris Johnson) and warning against trying to “administer punishment beatings” in the style of “some World War Two movie” (Boris, again).

If you’re trying to reach an agreement with someone, it’s a good idea to at least pretend you like them. It’s really that simple.

READ MORE: Theresa May says loan of Bayeux Tapestry to UK is ‘very significant’

Macron’s generosity will win France friends and, consequently, influence. China does the same with pandas; when Macron visited Beijing, he took a presidential cavalry corps horse.

Should the UK carry on like this, Macron is likely to let us know. Remember his marked swerve away from Donald Trump to embrace Angela Merkel instead?

This is a politician who knows the power of symbolism.

READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron: I will reunite split France

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664413.1516219346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664413.1516219346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Bayeux Tapestry would be 'probably the most significant' loan of art by France to the UK, according to the British Museum (Picture: PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Bayeux Tapestry would be 'probably the most significant' loan of art by France to the UK, according to the British Museum (Picture: PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664413.1516219346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-msp-hails-economic-impact-of-robert-burns-1-4664192","id":"1.4664192","articleHeadline": "SNP MSP hails ‘economic impact’ of Robert Burns","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516207035000 ,"articleLead": "

An SNP MSP will today lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament celebrating “the economic impact” of Robert Burns on Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664191.1516207032!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tourists at Burns Cottage in Alloway. Picture: Rob McDougall"} ,"articleBody": "

Joan McAlpine said that World Bank economists, commissioned by the BBC in 2003, calculated that Burns related tourism and merchandising, as well as the bonanza of the Burns supper season, with spending on everything from hospitality, whisky and haggis sales, kilt hire and even paying the piper, provided £157 million added value each year to the Scottish economy.

The MSP is calling for this economic impact assessment to be updated to reflect the opening of the Burns Birthplace museum and Scotland’s Winter Festival Programme, which includes Burns Night.

READ MORE: From songs to stamps: Robert Burns references in popular culture

The MSP said: “I think we Scots are, in general, more confident about celebrating our cultural heritage today than we have been in the past, and I am really proud of the role that the SNP Scottish Government has played in promoting our precious cultural assets like the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns.

“Burns the brand helps promote Scotland’s exports and trade links through Burns suppers around the globe, including through more than 250 member clubs of the Robert Burns World Federation.

“And year-round Burns-related tourism is on the increase thanks to Burns Scotland partner destinations such as the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ellisland Farm near Auldgirth, the Monument Centre in Kilmarnock and Burns House Museum in Mauchline, as well as numerous other places in Scotland associated with the poet.

“The Centre for Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University has, in and of itself, been an income generator and job creator – with students from all over the world coming to study Burns and others writers of his period. The Centre secured an Arts and Humanities Research Council or AHRC grant worth £1.1 million towards the project editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century. Over 15 years it will produce a new multi volume edition of his entire work published by Oxford University Press and with an accompanying website and social media engagement.

“Of course, we cannot put a price on the cultural value of Burns. Burns cemented our national identify and self-confidence. But we can be sure that the Bard’s legacy wields soft power, spreading Scotland’s influence far and wide, and is a huge part of our contribution to the world.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664191.1516207032!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664191.1516207032!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tourists at Burns Cottage in Alloway. Picture: Rob McDougall","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tourists at Burns Cottage in Alloway. Picture: Rob McDougall","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664191.1516207032!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/controversial-scottish-sectarian-laws-face-the-axe-after-msps-back-repeal-1-4664450","id":"1.4664450","articleHeadline": "Controversial Scottish sectarian laws face the axe after MSPs back repeal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516233601000 ,"articleLead": "

Controversial laws aimed at cracking down on sectarian abuse at football are facing the axe after a MSPs at Holyrood backed their repeal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4644239.1516221443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The laws were introduced following the infamous Old Firm shame game of 2011, which saw then Celtic manager Neil Lennon (pictured) and his Rangers counterpart Ally McCoist square up on the touchline after the match. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act “needs to be changed” according to Holyrood’s justice committee, which found that existing laws could be used to tackle much of the abuse being targeted.

Opposition parties came together to out-vote Nationalist MSPs on the committee. It will now go forward to the full Parliament, where a repeat of the united opposition stance would mean the SNP minority government is defeated and the laws are axed.

Justice committee convenor Margaret Mitchell said: “Whether the act is finally repealed or not, the message that came through from the vast majority of witnesses was that this legislation needs to be changed.

“While there is disagreement over the best way to proceed, the committee is united in its desire to have laws that help the police and prosecutors to clamp down on unacceptable behaviour. However, it is vitally important that our laws actually improve relationships between various groups within society, including law enforcement and sports fans.”

The laws were introduced following the infamous Old Firm “shame game” of 2011 which saw then Celtic manager Neil Lennon and his Rangers counterpart Ally McCoist square up on the touchline after the match, with widespread trouble among supporters inside and outside the ground.

The act was the first piece of legislation to have been passed without any cross-party support in the history of the Scottish Parliament when the then-majority SNP government pushed it through seven years ago.

But it has come under fire in recent years amid claims it unfairly targets football fans and has even “criminalised” a generation of football supporters. This has resulted in the current “Repeal Bill” being lodged at Holyrood by Labour MSP James Kelly.

Yesterday’s report finds existing laws could already be used to crack down on the sectarian behaviour targeted by the act.

“Repeal would not have a significant impact on the prosecution of the type of offences which the 2012 act sought to capture,” it said.

Many of these offences could also be covered by sentencing “aggravations”, the committee was told in evidence.

However, the repeal of Section 6 of the act, which involves “communicating material” which may cause fear and alarm or which stokes up religious hatred, would leave a gap, the report finds.

The Scottish Government has called for the Repeal Bill to be delayed while a review of hate crime in Scotland, which has examined the impact of the act, is completed by Lord Bracadale. But the committee says such legal reviews can take years to implement and says it would “not be appropriate” to delay the bill to await this.

Community safety minister Annabelle Ewing said a “range of organisations” set out concerns during the committee inquiry that the police would be hampered from tackling the issue.

“We share those manifest concerns that repeal will send entirely the wrong message, leaving vulnerable communities feeling exposed to abuse and prejudice and putting Scotland behind the rest of the UK,” she said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4644239.1516221443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4644239.1516221443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The laws were introduced following the infamous Old Firm shame game of 2011, which saw then Celtic manager Neil Lennon (pictured) and his Rangers counterpart Ally McCoist square up on the touchline after the match. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The laws were introduced following the infamous Old Firm shame game of 2011, which saw then Celtic manager Neil Lennon (pictured) and his Rangers counterpart Ally McCoist square up on the touchline after the match. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4644239.1516221443!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scotland-faces-severe-accommodation-shortage-for-university-students-on-campus-1-4664491","id":"1.4664491","articleHeadline": "Scotland faces severe accommodation shortage for university students on campus","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516224911000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland has a “clear problem” with providing accommodation for university students on campus, an MSP has claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664490.1516224909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Green Mark Ruskell called on the Scottish Government to hold a summit of university accommodation providers and student representatives to tackle the issue.

Speaking at Holyrood, he said: “It think it is clear that we have got a problem across Scotland.

“At Stirling University 180 first year students didn’t have accommodation last year.

“Under-18s cannot rent in the private sector, care leavers and international students struggle to find guarantors for private contracts.

“Disabled students very rarely find the appropriate private accommodation to meet their needs and we see increasing rents on campus as well.”

Liam McArthur said there were issues at the Stromness Heriot-Watt campus in his Orkney constituency.

Mr McArthur said this was not in the interests of students or the university and called on higher education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville to “island-proof” the legislation, which she said she would raise with ministers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664490.1516224909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664490.1516224909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664490.1516224909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/regions/aberdeen-north-east/former-carillion-boss-resigns-from-aberdeen-oil-firm-1-4664459","id":"1.4664459","articleHeadline": "Former Carillion boss resigns from Aberdeen oil firm","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516222886000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Carillion chief executive Richard Howson has resigned from an Aberdeen oil services giant.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664458.1516222882!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Howson has stood down from his role as non-executive director with energy firm Wood.

He had separately left Carillion in November, just weeks before it went into administration.

Mr Howson joined Wood - formerly the Wood Group - as a non-executive director in 2016.

Ian Marchant, chairman of John Wood Group PLC, said: “I would like to thank Richard for his contribution over the last two years.”

When Mr Howson was hired in 2016, Mr Marchant said the director’s “extensive experience” at Carillion would “further strengthen the board”.

The move comes as unions reported cases of Carillion workers being laid off across the country as a number of construction projects were stopped, with no certainty over when work would restart.

Workers on most private sector contracts held by the failed construction company will continue to be paid. Bonus payments to directors and former executives have been stopped.

The UK Government has urged banks to deal “swiftly and sympathetically” with small firms caught up in the crisis.

Mr Howson had been due to collect his £660,000-a-year salary and £28,000 in benefits from Carillion until October.

The company went into liquidation on Monday and yesterday the Government ordered a fast-track investigation into directors at the failed construction firm.

‘Historic milestone’ hailed as MPs vote through Brexit Withdrawal Bill

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664458.1516222882!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664458.1516222882!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664458.1516222882!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/whisky-distilleries-on-the-rise-south-of-scottish-border-1-4664405","id":"1.4664405","articleHeadline": "Whisky distilleries on the rise south of Scottish border","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516218851000 ,"articleLead": "

It has long been regarded as Scotland’s national drink. But now, a growing number of whisky distilleries are opening south of the Border, with the number of new spirits manufacturing facilities rocketing in England and Wales over the past five years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664404.1516218848!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Whisky distilleries are opening in greater numbers south of the border. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Official figures from HMRC showed that 42 more distilleries making a range of spirits are open now than in 2013. Of the new distilleries, 20 were in Scotland, 22 were in England, four in Wales and another three in Northern Ireland.

Trade body the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said the figures were not broken down into types of drink, but said that whisky distilleries are increasingly opening in England and Wales.

The figures showed that 149 distilleries are now online in Scotland compared with 90 in 2010 – a two-thirds increase.

The WSTA added that the boom in gin sales – which has seen a record number of bottles of gin sold last year, with an estimated 95 different gin brands now on the UK market, has contributed to the increase – but said that whisky making was becoming increasingly popular in England and Wales. More than 47 million bottles of gin have been sold in the UK in the last 12 months, up seven million bottles on the same period a year ago.

UK distillery openings have gone up 172 per cent from 116 since 2010 when the WSTA first started collecting the data – adding 199 in just seven years. The region showing the most rapid growth is England which in 2010 had only 23 distilleries but grew to 135 in 2017, accounting for 56 per cent of all UK openings in the last eight years.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, pointed to research which states that since 2010 the number of Scotch brands in the UK market has more than doubled to 246 from 119.

He said: “It is welcome news that another 49 new distilleries opened in the UK last year, bringing new jobs to the British spirit industry and helping boost Britain’s export potential.

“There is a significant amount of investment going in to the British spirits industry and the Chancellor’s welcome boost [duty was frozen in the November Budget] is likely to see this trend continue into 2018 – as well as broadening out into new variations of English and Welsh whisky.”

He added: “Gin is the key driver behind the surge in new distillery openings in the UK in the last five years.”

Ciaran Myles, WSTA head of research and insights, said that some newer distilleries are currently selling gin, but are also waiting for their whisky to mature.

He said: “While no-one should assume that there are many who are out solely to make great gin and lots of it, there are incidents of gin producers making gin but also biding their time until the brown stuff is ready for sale.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664404.1516218848!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664404.1516218848!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Whisky distilleries are opening in greater numbers south of the border. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Whisky distilleries are opening in greater numbers south of the border. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664404.1516218848!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/historic-milestone-hailed-as-mps-vote-through-brexit-withdrawal-bill-1-4664400","id":"1.4664400","articleHeadline": "‘Historic milestone’ hailed as MPs vote through Brexit Withdrawal Bill","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516218192000 ,"articleLead": "

Flagship Brexit legislation has cleared the House of Commons in a significant parliamentary milestone on the way out of the European Union.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664401.1516218585!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis described the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill as an "historic milestone""} ,"articleBody": "

The EU Withdrawal Bill was passed by MPs at its Third Reading by 324 votes to 295, and now moves to the House of Lords for further scrutiny this month. It is likely to return to the Commons following amendments by peers.

Brexit Secretary David Davis hailed the vote as a “historic milestone” and said he hoped peers will debate the bill, which will transfer EU law into British statute on the day the UK leaves the bloc, “in the same constructive way” as the Commons.

A cross-party amendment supported by the SNP and Liberal Democrats that would have tied the Withdrawal Bill to keeping the UK in the European single market fell after Labour ordered its MPs to abstain.

The amendment failed by 99 votes to 322, with 48 Labour rebels defying the party whip. SNP MP Peter Grant said Labour had chosen to “sit on the sidelines”.

An SNP attempt to have the bill thrown out because the government failed to implement promised changes to prevent a devolution “power grab” also fell. The SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the unamended bill was “a constitutional outrage”.

The bill will be corrected in the Lords, ministers have said. A Scottish Parliament delegation is due to meet with peers today.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664401.1516218585!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664401.1516218585!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis described the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill as an "historic milestone"","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis described the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill as an "historic milestone"","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664401.1516218585!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664399.1516218597!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664399.1516218597!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664399.1516218597!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/meghan-markle-gets-an-apron-as-first-official-royal-gift-1-4664396","id":"1.4664396","articleHeadline": "Meghan Markle gets an apron as first official Royal gift","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516217594000 ,"articleLead": "

Meghan Markle may not be a member of the Royal family, but she has already received an official gift - an apron.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664395.1516217709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Meghan Markle received an apron as an official Royal gift last year. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The present - a joint gift to the US actress and her fiance Prince Harry - may be fought over as the couple are known to like to cook together.

Harry famously proposed to his bride-to-be as they prepared a roast chicken dinner at his cottage home in the grounds of Kensington Palace.

The apron was one of hundreds of official gifts received by members of the Royal family last year.

The Queen received glitter balls for the Royal Christmas tree, a purple fleece dog bed and the Union Flag from Major Tim Peake’s spacesuit.

The annually released list of gifts revealed Harry and Ms Markle’s apron was received on their behalf by the Duke of Cambridge, from an unnamed individual, during a trip to Finland in November.

The monarch was also given an ostrich egg decorated with Maasai beadwork as a 91st birthday present from the Kenyan president.

British astronaut Major Peake, who became the first Briton to form part of the crew of the International Space Station, handed over his own historic gift at Windsor Castle.

He gave the Queen the flag from his spacesuit when he stayed with the monarch for a “dine and sleep” gathering at her Berkshire residence in April last year.

In November, the Queen was presented with two sets of glitter balls for her Christmas tree by the German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

GCHQ also opted for an early Christmas theme when the monarch opened the National Cyber Security Centre in London in February last year, with the British security agency giving the Queen a Christmas decoration containing Enigma machine paper.

The dog-loving head of state, who now has one corgi and two dorgis, received a purple fleece dog bed and soft toy after a visit to the Canine Partners National Training Centre in November.

She was also given a silver-plated filigree pumpkin during an audience with the Cambodian Ambassador.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte received armfuls of gifts on their overseas tour to Poland and Germany in July, receiving 59 presents between them.

This included 17 soft toys, two lollipops, three toy trains, a toy pram, three dresses, two pairs of socks and a dreamcatcher.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also received a variety of gifts on the high-profile trip, including 19 books, three pairs of earrings for Kate and three pairs of cufflinks for William.

There were two handbags for the duchess and replica cavalry sabre for the duke from the president of Poland Andrzej Duda.

During her solo visit to Luxembourg, Kate received a bamkuch by a member of the public, a traditional European cake with a hole in the middle that is served on important occasions.

When William and Kate visited Paris the outgoing president Francois Hollande gave the couple some decorative arts - a vase for William and a ceramic rose sculpture for Kate.

Official gifts can be worn and used, but are not considered the royals’ personal property. The royals do not pay tax on them.

They can eat any food they are given and perishable official gifts with a value less than £150 can also be given to charity or staff.

Gifts cannot be sold or exchanged and eventually become part of the Royal Collection, which is held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation.

The rules on official presents were tightened following the Peat inquiry in 2003 into the sale of royal gifts and the running of St James’s Palace.

JK Rowling refutes claims that £4m pub inspired Harry Potter

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664395.1516217709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664395.1516217709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Meghan Markle received an apron as an official Royal gift last year. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Meghan Markle received an apron as an official Royal gift last year. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664395.1516217709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/bernard-ingham-press-freedom-attack-could-turn-uk-into-a-totalitarian-state-1-4663198","id":"1.4663198","articleHeadline": "Bernard Ingham: Press freedom attack could turn UK into a totalitarian state","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516215600000 ,"articleLead": "

Heaven only knows what they would call me now in this at once sensitive and insensitive age. As Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary for 11 years, I copped a lot of abuse and ridicule.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663197.1516215307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary, fears the House of Lords' attempt to control the press could have serious consequences for democracy"} ,"articleBody": "

It did not do me much harm. Indeed, in my retirement, I find my notoriety is an extremely commercial commodity. I rejoice in being called, among many other things, the sewer but not the sewerage, a mound of poisoned suet, a rough-spoken Yorkshire Rasputin and Mrs Thatcher’s personal Rottweiler. They also called me her vicar on Earth, which is somewhat contradictory.

READ MORE: Minister accuses peers of voting to curb press freedom after double defeat

It was, and remains, like water off a duck’s back. Sticks and stones may break my bones but calling me names never hurt me. It is true that I worked in a gentler, more inventive, era and did not have to contend with the pestilential internet. But, with certain provisos, I do wish people would not take so seriously the often empty-headed exhibitionists who are colonising the ether with their tweets. Are you listening, Donald Trump?

My provisos stem from the coarsening of society in the last 25 years with its free use of filthy and obscene language, often directed at women, especially Tory women MPs, and racialism. The lingering antisemitism in the Labour Party – or more accurately Momentum – is a disgrace and a disqualification for office. My contempt for once-moderate and humanitarian Labour MPs who put up with Jeremy Corbyn’s mob increases by the week.

It is against this background that we are seeing new assaults on free speech from many angles. In the process, the laws of defamation and pornography, generally observed by newspapers, are brushed aside by the malcontent Twitterati.

READ MORE: John McLellan: Data Protection Bill has been hijacked

As if that were not enough, we are assailed by political correctness at every turn. Hypersensitive souls lurk behind every sculpture, portrait, sign and label demanding their removal. It is no longer acceptable to some to distinguish between a man and a woman, notwithstanding Adam and Eve; gender neutrality is the order of the day. It is ages since I could preside over a meeting as chairman. Instead, I am consistently transmuted into an inanimate chair.

Such is the state of our education system that obviously very few people have heard of the French philosopher Voltaire, who famously said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Oh Voltaire, wouldst thou were living at this hour.

I recognise that Mr Trump is not exactly an example of balanced thinking – more a mouth disengaged from brain – but does he deserve to be kept from these shores for fear he would not be welcome? Can we no longer entertain our principal ally lest he provoke a riot by activists? If we can’t, we are already ruled by the mob. Another high on the narcissistic scale – to wit, Sir Richard Branson – led to Virgin trains banning the Daily Mail before backtracking. This is no way to run a railway, especially when newspapers, unlike trains, operate reliably on time. Didn’t Virgin see that this was likely to be counter-productive? Newspapers are entitled to expose, condemn, criticise, lampoon and entertain us with their censure. What is more, they inevitably have the last word. This always assumes that the government and Commons will tell the unelected House of Lords where to put its current attempt to muzzle a free press. It is almost beyond belief that their Lordships should seek to bring the press under state control.

Yet that is precisely what they have in mind in latching on to a bill to update Britain’s data protection laws. They want all newspapers that fail to sign up for state regulation to be liable for the legal costs of anyone who brings a complaint against them – even if the publication wins. Just imagine what that would do to the local press with its limited resources and already fighting for its life against the weakening of community life and competition from the internet to which advertising has migrated.

You would not think that virtually all newspapers are already governed by an independent regulatory body chaired by a neutral Appeal Court judge with power to order front-page corrections and impose fines of up to £1 million. Prime Minister Theresa May is clearly dismayed by the Lords’ incipient dictatorship which some see as vindictive. We should all join her in the fight to preserve press freedom. Otherwise, you will soon wake up to a totalitarian Britain.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bernard Ingham"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663197.1516215307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663197.1516215307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary, fears the House of Lords' attempt to control the press could have serious consequences for democracy","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary, fears the House of Lords' attempt to control the press could have serious consequences for democracy","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663197.1516215307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/rbs-workers-joked-about-letting-customers-hang-themselves-1-4664358","id":"1.4664358","articleHeadline": "RBS workers joked about letting customers ‘hang themselves’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516214718000 ,"articleLead": "

RBS employees in a controversial small business unit joked about letting customers “hang themselves”, newly published memos reveal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664357.1516214716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RBS Bothwell is among 62 branches set to close across Scotland"} ,"articleBody": "

The revelation came as it was confirmed RBS chief executive Ross McEwan will be hauled in front of MPs later this month to answer questions about the conduct of the Global Restructuring Group (GRG).

The Treasury select committee confirmed Mr McEwan will appear alongside chairman Sir Howard Davies on 30 January.

Following a request from chairwoman Nicky Morgan for unpublished memos, details of how staff were encouraged to extract money from struggling businesses have come to light.

One 2009 memo entitled Just Hit Budget! talks of applying high interest rates to encourage customers to sign over a stake in their business.

The memo says: “Rope: Sometimes you need to let customers hang themselves.” SNP committee member Stewart Hosie said the memo was “shocking reading” and a “step by step guide to fleece RBS customers”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664357.1516214716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664357.1516214716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "RBS Bothwell is among 62 branches set to close across Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RBS Bothwell is among 62 branches set to close across Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664357.1516214716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/tesco-delays-clubcard-changes-1-4664307","id":"1.4664307","articleHeadline": "Tesco delays Clubcard changes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516213562000 ,"articleLead": "

Tesco is delaying changes to its Clubcard rewards scheme after an outcry from customers who objected to a cut to the value of vouchers without warning.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664306.1516213559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tesco has delayed plans to change its Clubcard rewards scheme"} ,"articleBody": "

The UK’s largest retailer said it had listened to customer feedback and had decided to delay the introduction of the changes until 10 June.

Tesco wrote to its millions of Clubcard customers earlier this week to say it had “simplified” the scheme with effect from 15 January to make it more straightforward to use by offering three times the value of their vouchers with more than 100 scheme partners as the standard offer.

It said it was ending those which offered twice the value and four times the value, including some of the most popular deals such as meals at Pizza Express, Prezzo and Zizzi. The announcement was immediately met with criticism that customers would gain less from their points and were given no prior warning.

Tesco said any customers who had already redeemed vouchers at three times 
the value “will not lose 
out” and should contact 
its customer service centre.

Tesco has around 16 million Clubcard customers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664306.1516213559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664306.1516213559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tesco has delayed plans to change its Clubcard rewards scheme","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tesco has delayed plans to change its Clubcard rewards scheme","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664306.1516213559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/jeremy-corbyn-accuses-theresa-may-of-being-negligent-on-carillion-1-4664305","id":"1.4664305","articleHeadline": "Jeremy Corbyn accuses Theresa May of being ‘negligent’ on Carillion","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516212883000 ,"articleLead": "

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Government of “negligence” over Carillion as he urged Theresa May to end the “costly racket” of private companies running services for the public.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664304.1516212879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked Theresa May over Carillion at today's Prime Minister's Questions. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The Labour leader said the “ruins” of the collapsed construction giant lie around the Prime Minister. He called for private firms to be “shown the door”.

‘He’s extremely vigorous’: Jeremy Corbyn not too old to be Labour leader

Mrs May said a third of government contracts with Carillion were let by the previous Labour administration, adding she wants to provide “good quality public services, delivered at best value to the taxpayer”.

The fate of Carillion dominated the pair’s exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Concluding his attacks on the Government, Mr Corbyn said: “This isn’t one isolated case of Government negligence and corporate failure - it’s a broken system.

“Under this Government, Virgin and Stagecoach can spectacularly mismanage the East Coast Main Line and be let off a £2 billion payment.

“Capita and Atos can continue to wreck the lives through damaging disability assessments of many people with disabilities and win more Government-funded contracts.

“G4S promised to provide security at the Olympics - failed to do so and the army had to step in and save the day.

“These corporations need to be shown the door. We need our public services provided by public employees with a public service ethos and a strong public oversight.

“As the ruins of Carillion lie around her, will the Prime Minister act to end this costly racket of the relationship between Government and some of these companies?”

Mrs May cited Labour’s involvement with Carillion before outlining the Government’s plan for public services.

She added: “We’re making sure in this case that public services continue to be provided, that workers in those public services are supported and taxpayers are protected.

“But what Labour oppose isn’t just a role for private companies in public services, it’s the private sector as a whole.”

Mrs May said the vast majority of workers in the country are employed in the private sector, but claimed Labour has “turned its back on investment, on growth and on jobs”.

At one stage Mrs May refused to provide a response to Mr Corbyn, telling the Commons: “I’m very happy to answer questions when (Mr Corbyn) asks one. He didn’t.”

One Labour MP could be heard labelling Mrs May an “absolute disgrace”.

Mr Corbyn said: “I asked the Government if they’d been negligent or not and they clearly have been very negligent.”

The PM also took aim at Emily Thornberry after the shadow foreign secretary shouted at her.

Mrs May said: “Can I say to the shadow foreign secretary, I will indeed answer the question, but I know she herself has praised Carillion in the past for the work they have done.”

Ms Thornberry appeared to ask “have I?” to a colleague before laughing and continuing to watch the exchanges.

Poll: Majority of Scots don’t want Indyref2 in next five years

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664304.1516212879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664304.1516212879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked Theresa May over Carillion at today's Prime Minister's Questions. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked Theresa May over Carillion at today's Prime Minister's Questions. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664304.1516212879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/books/jk-rowling/jk-rowling-refutes-claims-that-4m-pub-inspired-harry-potter-1-4663602","id":"1.4663602","articleHeadline": "JK Rowling refutes claims that £4m pub inspired Harry Potter","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516212297000 ,"articleLead": "

JK Rowling has insisted she has never been in a pub which has sold for millions of pounds amid claims that it inspired the Harry Potter books.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663808.1516212296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Harry Potter author Jk Rowling. Picture: Tom Hayward"} ,"articleBody": "

The Old Fire House in Exeter, has been sold for a rumoured £4 million - amid speculation that it was the inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron pub in Rowling’s iconic series set in a wizards’s boarding school.

But author Ms Rowling, who was a student at Exeter University in the 1980s, spoke out on Twitter, saying: “If you want real fantasy, go to an estate agent. Never visited this pub in my life.”

She added: “Red Cow, Black Horse, Mill on the Exe, the Artillery Inn (now sadly gone), but never that one, I’m afraid.”

READ MORE: ‘Avoid travel’: Government warns Scots ahead of heavy snow tonight

READ MORE: {https://www.scotsman.com/news/major-delays-expected-on-scotland-s-roads-amid-snowfall-1-4664281| Major delays expected on Scotland’s roads amid snowfall]

Sales agents Charles Darrow insisted it had not specifically marketed the pub based on Ms Rowling’s apparent links, although the marketing campaign for the property was publicised “confidentially”. The firm has previously advertised a modest corner shop and owner’s accommodation in the town of Pennsylvania, Devon, using Ms Rowling’s name, saying she lived nearby as a student.

Agent John Clyne told The Scotsman: “We didn’t market it as linked to her name at all. It is a lot of online talk. It is Exeter, so there are always a lot of links with Harry Potter.”

The pub has been bought by London-based City Pub Group PLC, owned by the father of Made In Chelsea’s Lucy and Tiff Watson.

Fans of the books expressed their dismay that the pub had not been an inspiration for Ms Rowling.

@TheDanCash tweeted: “Noooo I went to Exeter uni and it was a widely known (non-)fact that you frequented here.”

Exeter University’s Harry Potter Society has frequently held events at the pub, claiming that it inspired the wizarding drinking hole, which is located in London in the literary series.

The city’s Gandy Street has also widely been credited with being Ms Rowling’s inspiration for the books’s Diagon Alley.

Author Lucy Banks wrote on Twitter: “Ahhh, now I feel crushed, I love this pub and always liked to imagine it was an inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron! There’s another childish fantasy dashed right there. Was there any truth in Gandy Street being the inspiration for Diagon Alley?”

Numerous pubs and cafes in Edinburgh, where Ms Rowling lives, have also been credited with inspiring locations in the Harry Potter series, including the Elephant House cafe on George IV Bridge, which has a sign in the window claiming it is the “birthplace of Harry Potter”, while Nicolson’s Cafe on the city’s Nicolson Street, now called Spoon, has also laid claim to being the venue where Ms Rowling wrote her first drafts.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that a new pop-up Harry Potter themed bar will open in Edinburgh in February, while a Harry Potter flat, which offers visitors the chance to sleep in the Gryffindor dormitory, has proved so popular that it is already booked out for the entirety of 2018.

" ,"byline": {"email": "jane.bradley@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663808.1516212296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663808.1516212296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Harry Potter author Jk Rowling. Picture: Tom Hayward","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Harry Potter author Jk Rowling. Picture: Tom Hayward","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663808.1516212296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663601.1516186860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663601.1516186860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rowling says she has never visited the pub","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rowling says she has never visited the pub","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663601.1516186860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-government-accepts-calls-for-budget-changes-to-protect-services-1-4664284","id":"1.4664284","articleHeadline": "Scottish Government accepts calls for Budget changes to protect services","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516211219000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government has accepted calls to make ­changes to its budget to protect services and increase ­public sector pay.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657868.1515592763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay"} ,"articleBody": "

Poll: Majority of Scots don’t want Indyref2 in next five years

Mr Mackay unveiled his draft budget last month, including plans for an overhaul of the tax system which leave higher earners paying more than counterparts elsewhere in the UK. Lower earners would get a small cut.

But the Greens have already demanded an extra £150 million for councils to ensure vital frontline services don’t suffer.

Patrick Harvie’s amendment called for the budget changes to “protect public services, fund a fair pay increase for public sector workers and invest in low-carbon infrastructure.”

It was passed by 67 votes to 56, as Greens and SNP MSPs out-voted the other opposition parties.

Mr Harvie said: “For months, Greens have been focused on reversing cuts to council budgets, achieving a fair pay increase for frontline workers, and increasing the proportion of capital spend on low-­carbon infrastructure.

“Greens have shifted the debate on tax to show that ­revenue can be raised while protecting low and middle earners.”

Britons could face high fees, holiday visa wait to go to Europe after Brexit

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657868.1515592763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657868.1515592763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657868.1515592763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/can-the-tories-win-the-2021-election-1-4664278","id":"1.4664278","articleHeadline": "Can the Tories win the 2021 election?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516210761000 ,"articleLead": "

Not for the first time in the last 18 months or so, the Scottish Conservatives are seemingly a party with their tails up.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659631.1516210757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson."} ,"articleBody": "

While the damage (if any) from an embarrassing admission that Scottish-relevant sections of the Brexit withdrawal bill won’t be amended in the House of Commons remains to be seen, a poll released today has the party in buoyant mood.

The party hasn’t lost support at a Westminster level since the same poll in October, though they would lose two seats if a snap general election was called today.

In a Holyrood election, Ruth Davidson’s party has gained support, and would pick up an additional two seats in an election to the Scottish Parliament.

While they remain significantly behind the SNP in terms of seats, the party remains bullish that they can defeat Nicola Sturgeon and become the largest party at Holyrood, setting Ruth Davidson up as the first Tory First Minister in the parliament’s young history.

We look at how feasible that outcome is.

Starting position

As good as the poll is for the Conservatives, it would be tempting to look at the gap between the party and the SNP and conclude that the short answer to our question is ‘not a chance’.

READ MORE: Will Nicola Sturgeon call Indyref2 later this year?

However, the party is trending upwards in terms of recent polling, and that is a far better path to be on than going in the opposite direction.

A Holyrood election is still more than three years away, and coming from far back to win a Scottish Parliament election is not without precedent. A lot can change in that time, but even if the leaders remain the same, and the issues on the agenda remain similar (the constitution, the NHS, education), Ruth Davidson’s party could still come from behind to win.

The SNP won the 2007 election by a single seat, but it was only in the final year or so of that parliamentary term that they established a lead in polls.

In early 2005, a poll showed that the SNP were 20 points behind Labour in the constituency vote, and 11 points behind in the regional vote.

In contrast, Ruth Davidson’s party are 13 points behind the SNP in the constituency vote, and just seven points behind in the regional vote.

Potential for growth

Ms Davidson’s party are keen to brief to journalists that they are developing a more muscular policy platform they believe will allow them to be taken seriously as an alternative government, and not just the anti-independence party.

However, there remains every chance that independence will remain on the agenda until 2021 and beyond.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that she will make her final decision on another independence referendum (if there is going to be one) by the end of the year.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson remains most popular politician - poll

If a referendum is held after 2018, but before 2021’s election, a defeat could leave the SNP demoralised, rudderless, and possibly even at war with itself before the election.

The state of Scotland’s constitutional future could be as much a factor in the success of the Scottish Conservatives than their policy offering.

The case against

This all could seem like too much of a stretch, and that’s a fair observation.

The SNP, by all polling, is still well ahead in both Westminster and Holyrood, with their majority government of 2007-11 now seen as something of an abberation.

Minority or coalition government was always designed to be the norm in the Scottish Parliament, and it looks set to continue whoever wins in 2021.

Ms Sturgeon will remain confident that she can put together a coalition of voters to leave her party with enough support to form a government.

They remain under pressure from both left and right, and the SNP, arguably one of the most successful centrist projects in modern British politics, could struggle to hold on to power if those pressures, as well as continued constitutional turmoil, continue.

Going from a party of opposition to one of Government was a long road for the SNP, and it is arguably even longer for Scottish Conservatives.

Ruth Davidson says her dream is to become First Minister, and while polling for her party is good, there remain significant hurdles in her way.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4659631.1516210757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4659631.1516210757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Davidson.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4659631.1516210757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/britons-could-face-high-fees-holiday-visa-wait-to-go-to-europe-after-brexit-1-4664240","id":"1.4664240","articleHeadline": "Britons could face high fees, holiday visa wait to go to Europe after Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516210090000 ,"articleLead": "

British holidaymakers could have to provide their criminal record, immigration history and biometric data to travel in Europe after Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4645448.1516210449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British holidaymakers could face a four-day wait for visas to travel to European destinations such as Spain after Brexit. Picture: Home Office"} ,"articleBody": "

Baroness Ludford warned after the UK leaves the European Union those wishing to head to the continent may face “significant” fees and four day waits for approval to travel.

The Liberal Democrats’ Brexit spokeswoman said if Brexit happens, people will have to apply for a US-style visa waiver scheme.

Poll: Majority of Scots don’t want Indyref2 in next five years

Speaking during Oral Questions in the Lords, Baroness Ludford said: “All a British citizen needs to do at present to go on holiday to Spain or business in Germany is to present a passport at the border.

“If we Brexit, they will have to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), similar to a US ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation).

“The fee could become significant and it could take four days for approval.

“And this will require the supply of biometric data, details of health, criminal record and previous immigration history.”

She asked: “Has the Government levelled, when will it level, with the British people about how this is another example of Brexit increasing cost and red tape?

“Isn’t it another reason why the British people should be able to choose to exit from Brexit?”

Responding for the Government, Brexit minister Lord Callanan said: “No it isn’t, my Lords.

“(Baroness Ludford) is making a whole series of assumptions in her question – none of which may turn out to be true.

“We are still to have the discussions with the EU on the future relationship in terms of how people will travel backwards and forwards, so when we’ve had those discussions, when we’ve reached a conclusion, we will be sure to let her know.”

Donald Tusk: UK can change mind on Brexit and stay in EU

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4645448.1516210449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4645448.1516210449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "British holidaymakers could face a four-day wait for visas to travel to European destinations such as Spain after Brexit. Picture: Home Office","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British holidaymakers could face a four-day wait for visas to travel to European destinations such as Spain after Brexit. Picture: Home Office","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4645448.1516210449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/france-set-to-loan-950-year-old-bayeux-tapestry-to-britain-1-4664218","id":"1.4664218","articleHeadline": "France set to loan 950-year-old Bayeux Tapestry to Britain","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516208292000 ,"articleLead": "

French president Emmanuel Macron mounted a diplomatic conquest of Britain yesterday with the announcement that the 950-year-old Bayeux Tapestry will finally be loaned to the UK.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664217.1516214417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A section of the Bayeux Tapestry"} ,"articleBody": "

Donald Tusk: UK can change mind on Brexit and stay in EU

The tapestry – which has never left France and has only twice left its home in Normandy – is expected to be displayed at the British Museum in around five years, after checks on its condition.

At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mrs May welcomed the loan and said “the maximum number of people” will be able to see the work.

Dr Levi Roach, medieval historian at the University of Exeter, said there could “scarcely be a better symbol of the close yet fraught ties that have bound the two nations together” as the UK prepares to quit the European Union.

A French government official said: “This loan is under consideration, because there will be several months of restoration work at the Museum of Bayeux.

“It will not be before 2020 because it is an extremely fragile cultural treasure which will be subject to major restoration work before being transported anywhere.”

Although the first record of the tapestry is in the Bayeux Cathedral inventory of treasures in 1476, it is believed it was stitched in England by nuns of St Augustine’s Abbey in ­Canterbury.

The embroidery is stitched in nine different panels.

It is currently on display in a darkened room in the Bayeux Museum in Normandy.

The British Museum said it would be “honoured and delighted” to display the tapestry.

Its director, Hartwig Fischer, said: “This would be a major loan, probably the most significant ever from France to the UK.”

However, rival bids to host the tapestry have already been made. At PMQs, Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman said that Battle Abbey would be an appropriate location, at the site where Saxon King Harold is said to have been slain by an arrow through the eye. Home Secretary Amber Rudd also suggested her Hastings and Rye constituency should be in contention.

Mrs May said: “I am sure we will be looking very carefully to ensure that the maximum number of people can take the benefit of seeing this tapestry.”

The Prime Minister will meet the French president at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy today.

The loan will be on the agenda as well as efforts to combat terrorism and promote work to map the human genome.

‘He’s extremely vigorous’: Jeremy Corbyn not too old to be Labour leader

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664217.1516214417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664217.1516214417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A section of the Bayeux Tapestry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A section of the Bayeux Tapestry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664217.1516214417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/independence-push-surges-ahead-as-catalonia-parliament-elects-speaker-1-4664204","id":"1.4664204","articleHeadline": "Independence push surges ahead as Catalonia parliament elects speaker","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516207392000 ,"articleLead": "

Catalonia’s new parliament has elected a pro-secession speaker, virtually guaranteeing the push for independence for Spain’s northeastern region will go ahead.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4644775.1516207390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Catalonia's new parliament has elected a speaker. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The opening session of the new Catalan assembly came amid looming questions about the role that fugitive and jailed politicians will play within the chamber’s separatist majority and the future regional government.

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October to dodge a Spanish judicial probe, wants to be reinstated to his old job.

But he faces arrest if he returns to Spain and legal hurdles if he wants to be voted in from abroad by the regional assembly.

Poll: Majority of Scots don’t want Indyref2 in next five years

Mr Puigdemont’s seat and other empty seats in the parliament were adorned with a yellow ribbon today.

Four ex-Cabinet members sought by Spain’s Supreme Court are also in Brussels and three more elected lawmakers, including former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, have been jailed on provisional charges of rebellion or sedition.

Other former Cabinet members and parliamentary officials have been released from jail, but remain under investigation.

Spanish central authorities took direct control of Catalonia following the unilateral declaration of independence by separatist lawmakers on 27 October.

Under special powers, Spain fired Mr Puigdemont’s government, dissolved parliament and forced a new regional election on 21 December in the hope of halting the secession drive.

But contrary to Madrid’s hopes, separatists regained their slim parliamentary majority despite receiving less than half of the votes, although Ciutadans (Citizens) – a party that fiercely opposes independence – gained the most seats.

Several hundred people rallied near the parliament in central Barcelona, waving separatist flags as they watched the new house speaker’s election on a large outdoor screen.

Roger Torrent, a lawmaker with the left-republican ERC party, was elected to head the assembly’s governing committee that plays a key role in deciding what issues are debated and voted on in parliament.

“I want democracy and coexistence to be the foundations of this term,” Mr Torrent told fellow lawmakers from the speaker’s podium as he vowed to restore the self-government of Catalonia that is now in the hands of Madrid.

He also said, as speaker, he would defend the right of “all 135 voices in the chamber”, including those fugitive or in jail.

But Ciutadans leader Ines Arrimadas criticised the inaugural session, saying, “We start the legislature as we finished the last one, with a parliament speaker who is going to work only for independence.”

However, Ms Arrimadas pointed out things had changed in the parliament because the secessionist bloc now had fewer seats and votes and the independence stance had no international support.

“No matter what happens, we are going to be the guarantors for Catalonia not to make any independence declaration,” she said.

Although Ms Arrimadas’ party won the most seats – 36 – unlike the secessionist bloc, she lacks enough support to form a government.

Mr Torrent is tasked with choosing a candidate to try to form a government by the end of the month.

The two secessionist parties back the candidacy of Mr Puigdemont, but the former president would first have to get approval from Mr Torrent’s committee to vote and be elected from abroad.

Elsa Artadi, spokeswoman for Mr Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), said the separatists were “working to explore all the tools in the parliament’s rules to see what will be the formula”.

Parliamentary legal advisers said in a report this week Mr Puigdemont could not be sworn in via video link or by having a proxy candidate as he must debate his candidacy in person in parliament.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has also vowed to maintain direct rule over Catalonia if the fugitive separatist politician tries to resume office from Brussels.

The parties that promote Catalan independence jointly hold 66 seats in Catalonia’s parliament and also have support from four pro-independence, anti-establishment lawmakers.

Polls consistently show that most Catalans want the right to decide the region’s future, but are evenly divided over splitting from Spain.

‘He’s extremely vigorous’: Jeremy Corbyn not too old to be Labour leader

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4644775.1516207390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4644775.1516207390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Catalonia's new parliament has elected a speaker. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Catalonia's new parliament has elected a speaker. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4644775.1516207390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/he-s-extremely-vigorous-jeremy-corbyn-not-too-old-to-be-labour-leader-1-4664092","id":"1.4664092","articleHeadline": "‘He’s extremely vigorous’: Jeremy Corbyn not too old to be Labour leader","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516203489000 ,"articleLead": "

Jeremy Corbyn is “extremely vigorous” and will lead the Labour party into the next general election, aides have insisted, amid claims he is too old for the job.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663523.1516203487!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with his Scottish counterpart Richard Leonard. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The leader’s spokesman denied the 68-year-old had a “senior moment” at Prime Minister’s Questions today and said reports he would not be able to continue in the demanding role were “nonsense”.

The defence follows anonymous shadow cabinet briefings that Mr Corbyn’s age will become an issue by the next general election.

Mr Corbyn will be about to turn 73 if the vote is held on 5 May 2022 as planned.

Poll: Majority of Scots don’t want Indyref2 in next five years

During PMQs, the Labour leader appeared to give a statement rather than ask a question when he faced Theresa May at the despatch box.

But Mr Corbyn’s spokesman denied suggestions he had forgotten the question because he was having a senior moment.

“Jeremy will be continuing to lead the Labour party and fight the next election,” the spokesman said.

“It’s nonsense that the whole matter is in question. It’s nonsense that he had a senior moment. It’s nonsense on all fronts.

“Jeremy is extremely energetic, works extremely long hours and since he has been doing this job has performed at an extremely effective and high level.

“He is extremely vigorous. He has become more effective as a leader since he was first elected.

“I see no sign whatsoever that his age is an impediment to continuing to be leader.”

Ruth Davidson remains most popular leader - poll

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663523.1516203487!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663523.1516203487!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with his Scottish counterpart Richard Leonard. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with his Scottish counterpart Richard Leonard. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663523.1516203487!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}