{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scotland-s-economy-sees-half-the-rate-of-uk-growth-at-0-3-1-4846079","id":"1.4846079","articleHeadline": "Scotland's economy sees half the rate of UK growth at 0.3%","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545214856000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland's economy has fallen behind the  UK-wide picture, despite growth of 0.3% north of the border, the latest official figures show.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4846078.1545213849!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Growth in Scotland has fallen behind the UK-wide picture"} ,"articleBody": "

This is just half the rate of 0.6% which the UK enjoyed between July and September. Over the year, Scottish growth matched the UK figure of 1.5% according to the official figures.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “GDP has increased for the fifth consecutive quarter and, when compared to the same period last year, has increased by 1.5%.

Read more: Scots economy outstrips annual UK growth over the past year

“Last week I set out the important steps the Scottish Government is taking to continue these positive trends. Our budget will deliver the economic investment people expect and will continue to grow the Scottish economy. However, the key risk to Scotland’s economy over the next six to twelve months continues to be the uncertainty associated with Brexit, and in particular the risk of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, which is impacting on business confidence and investment.”

Read more: Scottish economy grows by 0.5% to outstrip UK
Scotland had been outstripping UK growth for much of the past year. The economy expanded by 0.5% in the second quarter (April to June) of 2018, compared with 0.4% UK-wide.

During the third quarter of 2018 output in the Services sector grew by 0.3%, output in Production contracted by -0.7% and output in the Construction sector grew by 2.7%.

It comes as new figures from Business Enterprise Research & Development (BERD) show that expenditure in Scotland in 2017 was £1.247 billion – the highest level since 2001 and up by 13.9% on 2016.

This research and development spending in Scotland was predominantly split between manufacturing products (£594 million or 47.6% of the total) and services products (£560 million or 44.9% of the total).

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4846078.1545213849!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4846078.1545213849!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Growth in Scotland has fallen behind the UK-wide picture","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Growth in Scotland has fallen behind the UK-wide picture","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4846078.1545213849!/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/general-election/scots-tories-point-to-2018-by-election-vote-share-as-proof-of-progress-1-4845792","id":"1.4845792","articleHeadline": "Scots Tories point to 2018 by-election vote share as proof of progress","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545209174000 ,"articleLead": "

The Conservatives have pointed to their vote share in by-elections across Scotland in 2018 as proof the party is gaining ground on the SNP.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845791.1545209170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tory and SNP members stand awaiting the results of a by-election in the Bonnybridge and Larbert ward of Falkirk Council in February. The seat was eventually won by the Nationalists. Picture: Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

The party said that of 10 local authority votes held this year, it had received 32.6 per cent of the vote compared to 32.1 per cent for the SNP and 14.2 per cent for Labour.

But the Nationalists laughed off the claims, claiming the analysis was “embarrassing” and pointing to SNP successes at the last council elections in 2017.

Policy co-odinator Donald Cameron said the results showed Scotland was ready to elect Ruth Davidson as First Minister in 2021.

READ MORE: Would a second EU vote increase the chances of IndyRef2?

Mr Cameron said: “This isn’t based on opinion surveys or voter intentions – these are actual votes cast in actual elections.

“They show Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives were the most popular party in Scotland, and that leaves us in good shape to make her First Minister in 2021.

“The results across 2018 also prove again it’s a two-horse race. Labour are way back, and completely incapable of standing up to the nationalists.

“It’s also proof that the Holyrood election wasn’t a flash in the pan. Scots are now putting their faith in Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives to prioritise Scotland’s place in the UK and take on the SNP.”

But SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “This so-called ‘analysis’ is frankly embarrassing and I’m surprised Donald Cameron put his name to it.

“Back in the real world, the SNP comprehensively won the last council elections – and just last year the Tories were a distant second as the SNP won a majority of Westminster seats.

“This desperate attempt to spin council by-election results can’t gloss over recent polling that points to losses at Holyrood and Westminster for Ruth Davidson’s Tories.

“With the incompetence of the Tory party on show for all to see, more and more people will continue to put their trust in the SNP to fight for what’s best for Scotland’s future.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845791.1545209170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845791.1545209170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tory and SNP members stand awaiting the results of a by-election in the Bonnybridge and Larbert ward of Falkirk Council in February. The seat was eventually won by the Nationalists. Picture: Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tory and SNP members stand awaiting the results of a by-election in the Bonnybridge and Larbert ward of Falkirk Council in February. The seat was eventually won by the Nationalists. Picture: Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845791.1545209170!/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/business/companies/farming/fisheries-deal-less-than-hoped-for-scottish-fleet-1-4846007","id":"1.4846007","articleHeadline": "Fisheries deal ‘less than hoped’ for Scottish fleet","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545209854000 ,"articleLead": "

A European fisheries deal has been described as “less than what was hoped” for Scottish vessels.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4846006.1545209850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: David Cheskin/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The annual industry negotiations concluded in Brussels with an agreement which protects the west of the country from overfishing, to ensure a sustainable future.

It also gives room for an “urgent review” of the discard ban as well as securing year-long fishing opportunities for Scottish vessels.

Industry bodies claimed the deal was “challenging but acceptable” and highlighted the need to leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

These were the final negotiations before the UK is set to leave the EU.

Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said: “The dynamics of negotiations this year were always going to be complicated given full introduction of the landings obligation and the fact that this is our last fisheries council as a fully-fledged member state.

Read more: ‘Thousands of troops on standby’ as no deal Brexit planning steps up a gear

“The outcome is less than what we hoped but as much as was possible under the circumstances.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “The talks have been difficult, as they always are, with the additional element this year of politics related to Brexit.

“For the Scottish industry, the central issue has been the inclusion of measures to limit the risk of ‘chokes’ by swapping between member states.

“The Scottish delegation worked long and hard, along with their UK colleagues, to give the best chance of avoiding fleet shutdown during 2019.

He added: “In the end, it is clear that our best interests can only be put first when we have left the CFP and are able to decide who catches what, where and when in UK waters.”

December Council is the culmination of all the year-end negotiations where fishing policies are finalised.

The actual stocks under negotiation included monkfish, west coast saithe, west coast whiting, skates and rays, west coast haddock, plaice, sole and Norway lobster.

Each member state, and then Scotland as part of the UK, is allocated quotas for each stock.

This caps the amount the industry is able to fish for each stock.

The quotas look to balance scientific advice and the need for sustainable fishing, with economic interests.

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This year’s negotiations in Brussels have been undertaken against an extraordinary political backdrop, adding to the already significant challenge of securing a good deal for Scottish fishing.

“I’m sure that many within our fishing industry will share my disappointment at some of the outcomes agreed, but recognise that the Scottish Government made the best of a bad situation.”

Executive officer of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association Simon Collins added: “Over the years, the CFP has degenerated from a simple failure to a shambles. It is now imposing severe and often highly questionable cuts in key quotas right at the point when an already challenging discard ban comes into full force.

“Despite the abundance of local fish stocks, Shetland’s fishermen and fishing communities are to be punished by distant bureaucrats who are utterly obsessed with unworkable rules.

“The Scottish fisheries minister and his team have been a strong voice for our industry throughout these talks, but the CFP ensures that the European Commission can mismanage fisheries at will and other countries can gang up to harvest more of the natural resources around our shores than we can. This has to end.”

Read more: ‘Ship has sailed’ on soft Brexit compromise, SNP warns

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Conor Riordan,"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4846006.1545209850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4846006.1545209850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: David Cheskin/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: David Cheskin/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4846006.1545209850!/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/health/scottish-government-waiting-time-targets-for-cancer-patients-not-being-met-1-4845944","id":"1.4845944","articleHeadline": "Scottish government waiting time targets for cancer patients ‘not being met’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545206761000 ,"articleLead": "

The number of cancer patients who are having to wait longer than the Scottish Government’s target of 62 days to receive treatment has increased, according to official statistics.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845943.1545206757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Waiting time targets for cancer patients are not being met according to official statistics."} ,"articleBody": "

Figures published by the Information Services Division (ISD) indictate only 81.4 per cent of patients, a drop of 3.2 per cent from the previous quarter, managed to be urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer against a 95 per cent target.

On top of this none of the ten reported cancer types met the 62-day standard with only two health boards

NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire achieving the required target.

The target has not been met at national level since 2012, with the Scottish Government announcing last October, a £850 million investment under its Waiting Times Improvement Plan, which aims to “substantially and sustainably improve NHS waiting times”.

However Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the failure to meet the 62-day target across Scotland is “simply not good enough”.

She added: “We are committed to significantly improving the experience of patients waiting to be seen or treated.

“I have been clear with Health Boards that achieving this will require a focused, intense programme of work that accelerates action that is already underway.”
The 95 per cent target was met for the 31-day standard – which states patients must be seen within this time following a decision to treat to the first cancer treatment – with 95.1 per cent of patients doing so, a slight increase from 95.0 per cent in the previous quarter.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon said: “Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer and these latest figures prove we need much more ambition and action from the Scottish Government in order to beat it.

“People living in our most deprived communities continue to experience the worst outcomes.

“This is not an inevitability; the right public health policies and targeted investment will save lives.”

The failure to meet the 62-day standard was described as “worrying” by Gregor McNie of Cancer Research UK. 
He said: “Waiting for treatment to start is an anxious time for patients and these delays are far from acceptable.

“We know some progress has been made and we’re pleased to see the Scottish Government has committed to improvements through its Waiting Times Improvement Plan.

“Cancer services in Scotland are struggling to cope as every year more people are referred for diagnostic tests.

“Staff shortages remain a serious concern. Swift action from the Scottish Government is needed to ensure there are enough staff in Scotland to deliver the vital tests people need.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845943.1545206757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845943.1545206757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Waiting time targets for cancer patients are not being met according to official statistics.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Waiting time targets for cancer patients are not being met according to official statistics.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845943.1545206757!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5840873939001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/how-home-office-is-blocking-glasgow-s-efforts-to-provide-true-asylum-martyn-mclaughlin-1-4845914","id":"1.4845914","articleHeadline": "How Home Office is blocking Glasgow’s efforts to provide true asylum – Martyn McLaughlin","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545206615000 ,"articleLead": "

The Home Office’s intransigent approach to providing housing for asylum seekers is causing anger and mistrust across the country, writes Martyn McLaughlin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845913.1545206611!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Campaigners against forced evictions in Glasgow stage a protest in July. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Anyone who has paid attention to the Home Office’s thoughtless and negligent approach to housing asylum seekers over the past decade will not be unduly surprised by the latest damning report from the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The most obvious question to draw from its primary conclusion – that local authorities across the UK are experiencing a crisis of trust in a broken system – is quite simple. What took so long?

Britain’s dispersal policy has been unfit for purpose for years. The Home Office’s existing ‘Compass’ contract places the responsibility for housing some of society’s most vulnerable individuals with multinational conglomerates, some of whom had no prior experience in the complex asylum housing sector.

In Glasgow, where Serco has been widely criticised, there have been numerous examples of the initiative’s folly: families forced to reside in properties ridden with vermin and damp, or which lacked essentials such as window panes and heating. Serco’s plan the change the locks on the properties of asylum seekers earlier this summer sparked widespread protests and a legal challenge.

Charities and NGOs forced to pick up the pieces have been some of the fiercest critics of Compass, but the new report, published on Monday, shows that councils are fast catching up. With confidence in the entire process waning, MPs have warned that the entire system could soon become untenable.

“Nearly two years after our previous report, very little has improved and mistrust by local authorities of central Government has deepened,” the committee noted. “The Government’s handling of the replacement for Compass has led dispersal authorities to consider withdrawal from participation in the dispersal scheme.”

In truth, the use of the word replacement is a tad disingenuous; renewal would a far more fitting descriptor, given the UK Government looks set to plough ahead with issuing decade-long Asylum Accommodation and Support Services (AASC) contracts. The acronym may be new, but it is Compass in all but name.

READ MORE: Insight: Asylum seekers at breaking point as trauma takes its toll on mental health

The dissatisfaction over the dispersal scheme is most keenly felt in Yorkshire, but it is proving contagious. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, recently wrote to Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, detailing his misgivings regarding oversight of the dispersal contract, and underlining the need for a fairer distribution of asylum arrivals across the country.

Emphasising the gravity of the problems, Mr Burnham warned him that Manchester’s ten local authorities were now “seriously considering” their continued participation in the scheme. Fortunately, especially for the 4,000-plus asylum seekers in Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow City Council is not inclined to follow suit. It was one of the first cities in the UK after London to join the dispersal scheme and for nearly 20 years, it has taken great pride in its participation.

The city, in turn, has benefited immeasurably. In the space of a generation, its communities and culture have been enriched and Glasgow’s reputation as a welcoming city has been enhanced. The SNP administration knows this only too well, and it is keen to continue with the dispersal programme, if not the precise arrangements put in place by the Home Office.

When Glasgow first became part of the initiative, it was the city council itself which was the contract holder. All these years later, and in light of the disastrous Compass contract, the council was minded to take over the reins for AASC.

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: Serco right about one thing in asylum seeker eviction row

After making a formal expression of interest, it received a 32-page form from the Home Office, designed for organisations with direct experience of providing asylum accommodation in the past ten years. It was, said Susan Aitken, the council leader, “almost impossible for us to answer”.

Undeterred, she is among other local authority heads pressing for greater oversight of the new AASC arrangements, albeit to little avail.

The Home Office has repeatedly warned that ceding control of property inspections to local authorities, for example, would compromise its ability to hold accommodation providers to account. It is a claim as laughable as it is absurd.

Such is the Home Office’s commitment to ensuring that asylum housing is fit for purpose, it employs the grand total of nine contract compliance officers, responsible for assessing 11,719 dispersal accommodation (DA) properties across the UK. A single officer is based in Glasgow.

The workload they are able to carry out has produced some damning conclusions. Between March 2016 and January this year, for example, less than a quarter of those properties inspected were found to be compliant with the requirements of the Compass contract. Close to half (43 per cent) were deemed not fit for purpose. A separate inspection report carried out earlier this year by David Bolt, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, found that the Home Office inspection regime was essentially a system of spot checks, which were neither informed by intelligence, nor subject to follow-up inspections.

The Home Office has shown itself to be unable, if not unwilling, to ensure some of Scotland’s most marginalised and vulnerable people are given proper shelter. If it is allowed to steamroll through its plans for AASC with no meaningful changes, we will all be the poorer for it.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845913.1545206611!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845913.1545206611!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Campaigners against forced evictions in Glasgow stage a protest in July. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Campaigners against forced evictions in Glasgow stage a protest in July. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845913.1545206611!/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/new-strategy-to-tackle-loneliness-launched-by-scottish-government-1-4845952","id":"1.4845952","articleHeadline": "New strategy to tackle loneliness launched by Scottish government","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545199226000 ,"articleLead": "

A national plan to tackle loneliness and social isolation in Scotland has been launched, with £1 million funding for projects to bring people together.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845951.1545165612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Loneliness affects thousands of Scots."} ,"articleBody": "

The two-year strategy is funded by the Scottish Government, who want loneliness to be treated as a public-health issue.

The scheme will attempt to tackle stigma around loneliness while investing in more-accessible transport to try and connect people in isolated communities.

Another element of the plan will see “intergenerational and other co-living arrangements” tested, in an effort to meet housing needs and reduce loneliness.

Older people will also be given opportunities to learn about digital technology as a way to keep in touch and build relationships.

Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie cited a recent survey suggesting one in ten Scots say they often feel lonely and said that rapid technological changes “can lead to people withdrawing and losing touch with friends and family”.

The strategy was launched at Bridgend Farmhouse, a community-owned charity in Edinburgh which provides space for learning, eating and exercising.

Ms McKelvie said: “It is known that social isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing which is why we are tackling this issue with a preventative approach allowing loneliness and social isolation to be treated as a public health issue.

“It is the responsibility of all of us as individuals and communities, and within the public sector, local authorities and businesses to reach out with kindness and build a country where all of us feel welcome within our communities and valued as an important part of society.”

The new strategy is based on recommendations made to the Scottish Government by a newly-formed group of charities, including Age Scotland, the British Red and the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, who have now welcomed the launched of this plan.

Anne Callaghan from the Campaign to End Loneliness said: “The new coalition of charities, the Action Group on Isolation and Loneliness (AGIL) welcomes the publication of the Scottish Government’s strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation.

“The scale of the challenge is huge and it’s encouraging that the Scottish Government is looking at how other budgets can be used to tackle loneliness and isolation in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845951.1545165612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845951.1545165612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Loneliness affects thousands of Scots.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Loneliness affects thousands of Scots.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845951.1545165612!/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/ship-has-sailed-on-soft-brexit-compromise-snp-warns-1-4845964","id":"1.4845964","articleHeadline": "‘Ship has sailed’ on soft Brexit compromise, SNP warns","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545199225000 ,"articleLead": "

“The ship has sailed” on a compromise deal for a soft Brexit, the SNP’s Westminster leader has said, committing the party to securing a second EU referendum – or if that fails, a vote on independence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845963.1545212640!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaking at the House of Commons."} ,"articleBody": "

Ian Blackford revealed a shift in SNP policy on Brexit, which has up until now been to promote a Brexit deal that keeps the whole of the UK inside the single market and customs union.

Within the past few weeks, Nicola Sturgeon has continued to argue that a “Norway Plus” Brexit deal is possible, provided Theresa May changes course and abandons her own agreement with Brussels.

However, during an emergency debate in the Commons on the abandonment of last week’s vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, Mr Blackford said time had run out for any compromise and suggested the SNP would throw its weight fully behind a so-called People’s Vote that could keep the UK in the EU.

He was asked by the Conservative backbencher Anna Soubry if he would vote for Norway Plus “or does he think that boat has set sail?”.

Mr Blackford replied: “The position of the Scottish National Party has always been that the people of Scotland voted to Remain and we wish that to be respected, and the People’s Vote creates the circumstances where at least we can test the will of the people in the United Kingdom.

“We have said that we are seeking to compromise. We have sought to compromise over the last two-and-a-half years, and the honourable lady is correct, that that is the minimum we would accept.

“But I believe that ship has now sailed. We ought to be staying in the European Union, that is the best option. We should be putting that to the people.”

The First Minister is to meet Mrs May today for Brexit talks between the UK and devolved governments in the same week the SNP sought to push for a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser claimed the SNP’s stance on Brexit had been “exposed” as “petty game playing”.

“Mike Russell is demanding yet another referendum on Brexit, but, no surprise, refuses to say whether he’d back the result if he lost again,” he said.

“Now, despite Nicola Sturgeon backing a Norway-style deal, Ian Blackford has unilaterally ruled it out, claiming that the ‘ship has sailed’ on such a plan.

“When it comes to a so-called alternative to the Prime Minister’s plan, the SNP is all at sea. The truth is that the SNP isn’t serious about any so-called alternatives to the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, it just wants to push Britain towards the precipice of no deal in the hope it can resurrect its plans for independence.”

In the Commons, Mr Blackford said it was “an outrage” that a vote on the terms of Brexit would not take place until the second week of January. “The entire UK runs the risk of crashing out of the European Union on the basis that the Prime Minister and the Government are trying to deny this House the opportunity to have a vote,” he said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845963.1545212640!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845963.1545212640!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaking at the House of Commons.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaking at the House of Commons.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845963.1545212640!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5796987730001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/thousands-of-troops-on-standby-as-no-deal-brexit-planning-steps-up-a-gear-1-4845972","id":"1.4845972","articleHeadline": "‘Thousands of troops on standby’ as no deal Brexit planning steps up a gear","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545199224000 ,"articleLead": "

Thousands of soldiers are being put on standby and £2 billion will be distributed to government departments after the Cabinet agreed to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit in the final 100 days before the UK leaves the EU.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845971.1545212438!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Ministers agreed to step up the Government’s work dramatically to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, which will see tens of thousands of businesses contacted directly urging them to take action. The Scottish Government responded by announcing it was looking at new routes to bring in supplies of medicines and other essentials in case the flow of goods through Calais and other main ports breaks down.

Last night the SNP joined other opposition parties in lodging a motion of no confidence in the Government. It came after the Labour Party stopped short of formally seeking a vote to try and collapse the Government.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused Jeremy Corbyn of wasting time on a “gimmick”, although the joint effort with the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens is unlikely to be granted parliamentary 
time for debate by the Government.

“It is clear the Prime Minister’s tactic has been to run down the clock and deprive Parliament of any alternative to her deal,” Mr Blackford said.

“Jeremy Corbyn seems happy to let her – presumably to avoid having to make a decision on a second EU referendum.

“We want this motion to succeed, but if it doesn’t Labour’s only excuse for not backing a second referendum will be removed.

“Either way, if the official opposition won’t do its job, the real opposition will.”

At a marathon cabinet meeting yesterday that saw 25 ministers give their views, it was agreed to implement all the Government’s no-deal plans despite bitter divisions over whether leaving the EU without a deal would be acceptable.

Several ministers are understood to have signalled they would resign in the event of a no-deal, including work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, who is reported to have told colleagues: “Just because you put a seat belt on, it doesn’t mean you should crash the car.”

In the House of Commons, defence secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs that 3,500 soldiers would be put on standby to assist in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Civil servants will work through Christmas on preparations, Downing Street revealed.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “Cabinet agreed that with just over three months until our exit from the European Union, we have now reached the point where we need to ramp up these preparations.

“This means we will now set in motion the remaining elements of our no-deal plans.

“Citizens should also prepare in line with the technical notices issued in the summer and in line with further more detailed advice that will now be issued over the coming weeks.”

A £2bn no-deal contingency fund will be handed out to the Home Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and other Whitehall departments.

Emails will be sent to 80,000 businesses that are particularly vulnerable to the potential imposition of customs duties and regulatory checks, highlighting official advice.

Food supplies could be hit, with price rises affecting the poorest in society, Scotland’s Brexit secretary Michael Russell told MSPs in a Holyrood statement.

The Scottish Government activated its own emergency resilience response measures, while the police are preparing for “civil contingencies”.

Mr Russell warned a no-deal scenario would cause “irreparable damage” to the country and society. The Scottish Government, including Transport Scotland, is working with ports and other parts of the supply chain to “fully assess the impact and identify what can be done to mitigate disruption”, he said yesterday.

He added: “It’s our aim to secure the best flow of essential goods into Scotland using existing routes or developing new ones.”

Plans are also being developed to deal with the supply of medicines, medical devices and the workforce for health and social care.

Mr Russell insisted a “no-deal Brexit” was not yet inevitable. But he said: “As a responsible Government, we cannot wait any longer. The consequences and risks are too pressing and too severe.

“The Scottish Government is ready to operate Brexit arrangements at very short notice, but will continue to build preparedness and resilience.”

Mr Russell added: “Whilst this government will do everything we can to prepare, we must not let anyone believe we can do everything.

“The nebulous approach of the UK Government to decision making on Brexit has meant that it is impossible to know when these plans might need to go into effect.”

Labour’s shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said it was testament to the Government’s “failure” in talks with the EU that was “spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to prepare for a no-deal Brexit that is rejected by Parliament and many of those sat around the Cabinet table”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the decision to ramp up no-deal preparations was “psychological warfare”.

“The Conservative Government are attempting to scare MPs, businesses and the public with the threat of a no-deal,” Mr Cable said.

l With additional reporting by Scott Macnab

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845971.1545212438!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845971.1545212438!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845971.1545212438!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5796987730001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/edinburgh-s-warring-factions-must-hold-peace-talks-over-tourists-brian-ferguson-1-4845921","id":"1.4845921","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh’s warring factions must hold peace talks over tourists – Brian Ferguson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545199200000 ,"articleLead": "

An almighty row over the ‘Disneyfication’ of Edinburgh and the alleged hatred of tourists has broken out ahead of the Hogmanay celebrations, but both sides need to sit down together to sort out the city’s problems because they escalate, writes Brian Ferguson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh."} ,"articleBody": "

In less than a fortnight, Edinburgh will be back in the global spotlight. A 75,000-strong crowd is expected to descend for one of the world’s most high-profile Hogmanay celebrations. The figures should speak for themselves: tickets expected to be sold in around 80 countries, one in four audience members travelling from overseas, visitors spending an average of three-and-a-half nights in the city and more than half the audience under the age of 35. With pre-Brexit gloom growing daily, the city is well set to serve up an antidote to the divisions over Britain’s departure from the EU.

The theme of the Hogmanay festival has acknowledged the bitter political backdrop, with its central “We Love You!” message due to be beamed around the world during the main events.

All this would make you think every effort in the city would be focused on rolling out the red carpet for its visitors, many of whom will be arriving in the city for the first time. But that sounds like a parallel universe compared to the reality of the city’s troubled tourism industry. Its Christmas attractions are providing the backdrop to an unfestive row over a sector worth £1.3 billion and employing 35,000.

READ MORE: Tourism chief: ‘Disneyfication’ of Edinburgh would not be a bad thing

A festive industry gathering has led to world heritage experts demanding one of the city’s leading tourism figures withdraw an “outright slur” over suggestions that it has a hatred of tourists. Edinburgh World Heritage, which made enemies and headlines of its own after warning the city was on its way to becoming the new Venice unless it brought the tourism industry under control, has failed to see the funny side of Marketing Edinburgh chair Gordon Robertson opening his address with a dig – then keeping on digging. To be fair, not many escaped his finger-pointing about the “tourism bad narrative” which he feels has come to dominate the industry. Businesses, residents, heritage bodies, newspapers – this particular journalist got a now-traditional special mention – and “politicians of all hues and administrations” were in the dock after a summer which Mr Robertson said may have left a visiting alien with the impression “everybody hates a tourist” is the city’s current strapline. He did not stop there, recalling “squabbling” and “huffs” over Edinburgh’s bid to bring in a tourist tax. But the inevitable headline grabber was an attempt to convince his audience that “Disneyfication” – one of the most common criticisms of tourism in Edinburgh – would not be a bad thing for the city and that those who “rail against” it instead want the city “preserved in aspic”.

READ MORE: Helen Martin: Edinburgh Council must work for us, not tourists

Five years ago, when Mr Robertson was appointed, there would have been a different reacton to the storm which has engulfed him in recent days. You would have to have been living in Disneyland not to recall growing opposition, dismay and anger to new hotel developments, the impact of major events, crowd congestion on the streets and pavements, and the impact of Airbnb on the city centre. Two council reports, a city heritage blueprint endorsed by the Scottish Government and the city’s tourism strategy, two years old now, have laid bare most of the key issues.

It is blindingly obvious they need serious attention instead of trying to turn critics into pantomime villains. It also strikes me that the warring factions will need to sit around the table, along with other key players in the industry, if the city is to get to grips with the major issues before they escalate much further. Some festive handshakes are in order.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1488377598653"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-theresa-may-is-bending-uk-to-her-will-leader-comment-1-4845916","id":"1.4845916","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Theresa May is bending UK to her will – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545160794000 ,"articleLead": "

Prime Minister Theresa May’s tactical nous over Brexit may win the day but country may not share her victory.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845915.1545160790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May appears to be out-manoeuvring her opponents over Brexit (Picture: Matt Dunham/AP)"} ,"articleBody": "

Theresa May promised to deliver “strong and stable” government, then suffered repeated episodes of the wobbles.

But – amid the resignations of Boris Johnson, two Brexit Secretaries and various other members of the Government; the failed attempt to oust her by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s band of hardcore Brexiteers; and Jeremy Corbyn’s weak attempt to hold a vote of no confidence in her leadership – she appears to have out-manoeuvred her opponents.

Yesterday saw the UK Government ramp up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit with plans to put thousands of troops on standby among other measures. “Project Fear!” was the cry, though for once it was not from hardcore Brexiteers, but the Remain camp. Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable claimed May was trying to “scare MPs, businesses and the public” and “irresponsibly trying to run down the clock so that the only option is to support her discredited deal”.

READ MORE: Brexit: Scottish Government explores ‘new routes’ for essential supplies

This seems to be a fairly accurate summation of the Prime Minister’s strategy, but it’s also a statement of two basic truths: a no-deal Brexit is something we should be afraid of and time is running out.

The SNP yesterday accepted there was no longer time for a soft Brexit with its Commons leader, Ian Blackford, saying “that ship has now sailed” and the party will now seek to hold a second EU referendum.

However, it is the UK Government that controls the agenda and the timetable. If there is no majority in the Commons to remove Theresa May, her unpopular Brexit deal will be put to the vote just two months before ‘B-Day’.

Remainers might vote against it in the hope May will shift to the second referendum camp and that the public will then change its mind, but this would be a gamble. Surely only the most reckless of Brexiteers would vote against May’s plan in favour of a no deal, particularly as this would risk no Brexit. So, albeit reluctantly, Remainers and hardcore Brexiteers may well find themselves trooping into the Government lobby purely out of fear of the alternatives.

This coalition of the unwilling would be a tactical victory for May, but it is unlikely to end well. If predictions about Brexit’s damage to the UK economy prove correct, public discontent after 29 March is likely to grow. Forcing people to bend to your will, forcing the UK into a situation that few actually want, may be strong, but it risks producing a worryingly unstable situation.

READ MORE: SNP accuses Jeremy Corbyn of being the ‘midwife of Brexit’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845915.1545160790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845915.1545160790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May appears to be out-manoeuvring her opponents over Brexit (Picture: Matt Dunham/AP)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May appears to be out-manoeuvring her opponents over Brexit (Picture: Matt Dunham/AP)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845915.1545160790!/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/cancer-patients-waiting-longer-than-scottish-government-target-1-4845774","id":"1.4845774","articleHeadline": "Cancer patients waiting longer than Scottish Government target","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545147159566 ,"articleLead": "

The number of cancer patients who are having to wait longer than the Scottish Government’s target of 62 days to receive treatment has increased, according to official statistics.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845773.1545147254!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cancer waiting times not being met"} ,"articleBody": "

Figures published by the Information Services Division (ISD) indictate only 81.4 per cent of patients, a drop of 3.2 per cent from the previous quarter, managed to be urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer against a 95 per cent target.

On top of this none of the 10 reported cancer types met the 62-day standard with only two health boards NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire achieving the required target.

READ MORE: Percentage of patients waiting longer than target for cancer treatment hits new high
The target has not been met at national level since 2012, with the Scottish Government announcing last October, a £850 million investment under its Waiting Times Improvement Plan, which aims to “substantially and sustainably improve NHS waiting times”.

However Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the failure to meet the 62-day target across Scotland is “simply not good enough”.

She added: “We are committed to significantly improving the experience of patients waiting to be seen or treated.

“I have been clear with Health Boards that achieving this will require a focused, intense programme of work that accelerates action that is already underway.”

The 95 per cent target was met for the 31-day standard - which states patients must be seen within this time following a decision to treat to the first cancer treatment - with 95.1 per cent of patients doing so, a slight increase from 95.0 per cent in the previous quarter.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon said: “Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer and these latest figures prove we need much more ambition and action from the Scottish Government in order to beat it.

“People living in our most deprived communities continue to experience the worst outcomes.

“This is not an inevitability; the right public health policies and targeted investment will save lives.”

READ MORE: Leader comment: SNP’s extra £655m to cut NHS waiting times is a gamble

The failure to meet the 62-day standard was described as “worrying” by Gregor McNie of Cancer Research UK.

He said: “Waiting for treatment to start is an anxious time for patients and these delays are far from acceptable.

“We know some progress has been made and we’re pleased to see the Scottish Government has committed to improvements through its Waiting Times Improvement Plan.

“Cancer services in Scotland are struggling to cope as every year more people are referred for diagnostic tests. Staff shortages remain a serious concern. Swift action from the Scottish Government is needed to ensure there are enough staff in Scotland to deliver the vital tests people need.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "kevan.christie@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845773.1545147254!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845773.1545147254!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cancer waiting times not being met","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cancer waiting times not being met","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845773.1545147254!/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/brexit-cabinet-agrees-to-dramatically-step-up-2bn-no-deal-preparation-1-4845718","id":"1.4845718","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Cabinet agrees to dramatically step up £2bn no deal preparation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545145825000 ,"articleLead": "

Preparations for a no deal Brexit will be dramatically stepped up with just over 100 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, with the government writing to tens of thousands of businesses and allocating £2bn for contingency plans.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845742.1545145821!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is among cabinet members who have signalled they would resign in the event of a no-deal. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Theresa May’s Cabinet agreed to implement all the government’s no deal plans despite bitter divisions between cabinet members over whether leaving the EU without a deal would be acceptable.

Several ministers are understood to have signalled they would resign in the event of a no-deal, including Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who is reported to have told colleagues: “Just because you put a seat belt on, it doesn't mean you should crash the car.”

READ MORE: Defiant Theresa May dares Labour to try topple government
In the Commons, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs that 3,500 soldiers would be put on standby to assist in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Civil servants will work through Christmas on preparations, Downing Street revealed.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “Cabinet agreed that with just over three months until our exit from the European Union we have now reached the point where we need to ramp up these preparations.

“This means we will not set in motion the remaining elements of our no-deal plans.

\"Citizens should also prepare in line with the technical notices issued in the summer and in line with further more detailed advice that will now be issued over the coming weeks.”

A £2bn no deal contingency fund will be handed out to the Home Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and other Whitehall departments.

Emails will be sent to 80,000 businesses that are particularly vulnerable to the potential imposition of customs duties and regulatory checks, highlighting official advice.

Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, Jenny Chapman said: “It is testament to the Prime Minister’s failure in these negotiations that the Government is now spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to prepare for a no deal Brexit that is rejected by Parliament and many of those sat around the Cabinet table.

“A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for jobs, the economy and the border in Northern Ireland. It is simply not a viable option.”

READ MORE: New £800,000 support scheme to be launched for EU citizens affected by Brexit
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the decision to ramp up no deal preparations was “psychological warfare”.

“The Conservative Government are attempting to scare MPs, businesses and the public with the threat of a no-deal,” Mr Cable said.

“Theresa May is irresponsibly trying to run down the clock so that the only option is to support her discredited deal.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845742.1545145821!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845742.1545145821!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is among cabinet members who have signalled they would resign in the event of a no-deal. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is among cabinet members who have signalled they would resign in the event of a no-deal. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845742.1545145821!/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/snp-accuses-jeremy-corbyn-of-being-the-midwife-of-brexit-1-4845815","id":"1.4845815","articleHeadline": "SNP accuses Jeremy Corbyn of being the ‘midwife of Brexit’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545151324000 ,"articleLead": "

Jeremy Corbyn has become “the midwife of Brexit” by failing to call a no confidence vote in the Government, according to the SNP.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845814.1545151320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Labour ducked the issue with its “embarrassing stunt” of calling for a confidence vote in the Prime Minister during an emergency debate on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Focusing on the Prime Minister rather than the Government means there is no statutory requirement for the issue to be debated and voted on.

Only the leader of the official opposition has the right to demand a vote of no confidence in the Government be taken, potentially toppling the Tories from power.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford told ‘go back to Skye’ by Tory MP

As a result, Mr Blackford said: “The leader of the opposition has become the midwife for Brexit.

“The leader of the opposition is letting the Government off the hook.

“He has it in his gift to bring a forward a no confidence motion that will test the will of the House and, crucially, will allow his party to move onto the issue of a People’s Vote.

“Yesterday’s stunt was an embarrassment - the SNP and others sought to amend his motion and I am asking him to do what he spectacularly failed to do yesterday and bring forward a motion of no confidence in the Government.”

Mr Blackford added he was “pleading” with Labour to work cross-party with the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to bring forward the vote.

“On the basis of the risks we all face we have a responsibility to come together, we have to unite, because it’s in the interests of all our nations to do that,” he said.

“Based on the very, very real risk there will be no deal as a consequence of the stupidity of what has come from the Government, we now have that responsibility.

“Today is the day - not tomorrow, not when we come back in January - today is the day the opposition must put down on a united basis a motion of no confidence.”

As a member of the Privy Council, Mr Blackford said he had seen details of the impact of a no deal Brexit but was sworn to secrecy and urged the Government to publish the “sobering” details.

He added: “We have to wake up to the impact of Brexit and the options that are in front of us.”

READ MORE: Brexit: Cabinet agrees to dramatically step up £2bn no deal preparation

Meanwhile, SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) asked whether he could table a motion of no confidence in Labour.

Raising a point of order on Labour’s confidence motion, he asked: “Is it possible for a backbench MP to table a motion of no confidence in Her Majesty’s Opposition, given the mess they have made of tabling the motion of no confidence, confusing even their own backbenchers?

“So, two motions of no confidence, one in the Government and one in that lot over there.”

Speaker John Bercow responded by saying he was “not aware of any precedent for what he cheekily suggests”.

Tory former minister Anna Soubry, raising another point of order on the issue, asked the Speaker whether he could help Labour “conduct themselves as a proper, functioning opposition” on the same issue.

She said: “Have you had any communication from Her Majesty’s Opposition to assist them in the correct procedure and is it the case that you and your excellent clerks are always available to Her Majesty’s Opposition should they seek any information or advice on how to conduct themselves as a proper, functioning opposition?”

Mr Bercow replied: “The chair is always available to offer advice.”

In a separate point of order, Labour was accused of “playing games” with its motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister by Tory former minister Sir Edward Leigh.

He said: “The Fixed Term Parliament Act is absolutely clear that if Her Majesty’s Opposition table a motion of no confidence in the Government an immediate debate has to be held and, indeed, if the Opposition had tabled such a motion last night, we would now be discussing a motion of no confidence in the Government.

“The problem for the leader of the Labour Party is that he does not want an immediate motion of no confidence because if, as is likely it was lost, he’d be forced by his party to go for a referendum, so they’re playing games.”

Mr Bercow said: “I should make it clear that there is a strong convention the Government provides time at an early opportunity for a no confidence motion in Her Majesty’s Government if tabled by the official Opposition.

“However, and this is important, no such convention applies in relation to this particular motion, which is not a conventional no confidence motion, so that’s where things stand.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845814.1545151320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845814.1545151320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845814.1545151320!/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/brexit-scottish-government-explores-new-routes-for-essential-supplies-1-4845785","id":"1.4845785","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Scottish Government explores ‘new routes’ for essential supplies","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545149785000 ,"articleLead": "

New routes into Scotland are being explored in an effort to ensure essential supplies are not held up by delays at ports caused by a No Deal Brexit, MSPs have been told.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845784.1545148728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary Mike Russell"} ,"articleBody": "

Food availability and prices could also be hit with the poorest set to lose out, Scotland's Brexit secretary Michael Russell said in a Holyrood statement.

The Scottish Government has activated its emergency resilience response to deal with the prospect of leaving the UK without a deal, while the police are preparing for \"civil contingencies.\"

The Brexit minister warned a No Deal scenario will cause \"irreparable damage\" to the country and society.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford told ‘go back to Skye’ by Tory MP

The UK Government's failure to share information is also hampering preparations in Scotland, Mr Russell said.

The Scottish Government, including Transport Scotland, is working with distributors, purchasers, suppliers, transport providers and ports to \"fully assess the impact and identify what can be done to mitigate disruption\", Mr Russell told MSPs in a statement today.

He added: \"It's our aim to secure the best flow of essential goods into Scotland using existing routes or developing new ones.\"

Plans are also ongoing to deal with the supply of medicines, medical devices and the workforce for health and social care, amid concerns over supply problems amid stockpiling of medical devices and drugs.

Mr Russell said a \"no deal Brexit\" is not yet inevitable.

But he added: \"As a responsible Government we cannot wait any longer. The consequences and risks are too pressing and too severe.

“The Scottish Government is ready to operate Brexit arrangements at very short notice but will continue to build preparedness and resilience.

“Under the leadership of the Deputy First Minister the SGoRR mechanism is now in operation providing a single clear, coordinating structure.

“But let me say that whilst this Government will do everything we can to prepare, we must not let anyone believe we can do everything.

“The nebulous approach of the UK Government to decision making on Brexit has meant that it is impossible to know when these plans might need to go into effect.

“What a tragedy it is that we must take action for a ‘no deal’ exit as a result of the UK Government, to mitigate against the severe impacts on Scotland and the irreparable damage to our economy, our people and our society.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845784.1545148728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845784.1545148728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit Secretary Mike Russell","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary Mike Russell","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845784.1545148728!/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/ian-blackford-told-go-back-to-skye-by-tory-mp-1-4845779","id":"1.4845779","articleHeadline": "Ian Blackford told ‘go back to Skye’ by Tory MP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545148227000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP leader at Westminster was reportedly told “go back to the Isle of Skye” as he stood to speak at an emergency Commons debate on Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4839780.1545212584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Ian Blackford was in the chamber for the EU Withdrawal Agreement Debate today when the comment was shouted, with several MPs quickly pointing the finger of blame at veteran Conservative member Sir Nicholas Soames.

It provoked a furious reaction from senior Nationalists. Catriona Matheson, the party’s head of communications at Westminster, described the incident as “appalling”.

She added: “When will MPs be held to account for their behaviour in the Commons, just as everyone else in the world of work is.”

Sir Nicholas was previously criticised by Nationalists for “woofing” in the direction of former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh during a Commons debate in January 2017. He later defended the action as a “friendly canine salute”.

Mr Blackford went on to criticise Theresa May’s Government for failing to secure a Brexit deal and contrasted it with assurances Scotland would remain part of the EU if it backed a No vote in 2014.

READ MORE: Would an independent Scotland face a hard border with England?

He said: “We find that we aren’t leaving the UK, we find that the UK is taking us out of the European Union against our will.

“The Scottish National Party won’t sit back and all the people of Scotland to be dragged out of the European Union against its will. Scotland is a European nation, we will remain a European nation.”

He continued: “When we get to the end of that process, if there is an economic threat to jobs and prosperity in Scotland, then it is very clear that the Scottish Parliament has a mandate to call an independence referendum.

“There is a majority in the Scottish Parliament to hold such a referendum. Just a few months ago, this House voted to accept the claim of right for Scotland.

“If the Scottish Parliament comes forward with a request for a Section 30 Authority then this House must allow the people of Scotland to determine their own future.

“Here we have a parliament in London silenced by this government and the devolved administrations silenced and ignored.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4839780.1545212584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4839780.1545212584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4839780.1545212584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5796987730001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/edinburgh-marketing-chief-urged-to-retract-outright-slur-against-heritage-watchdog-1-4845379","id":"1.4845379","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh marketing chief urged to retract ‘outright slur’ against heritage watchdog","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545147827000 ,"articleLead": "

The charity responsible for protecting Edinburgh’s World Heritage status is demanding a city marketing chief withdraws comments he made in a hard-hitting speech about the impact of the tourism industry

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh."} ,"articleBody": "

Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh, is being urged to retract an “outright slur” against Edinburgh World Heritage, which claims he suggested the watchdog had a hatred of tourists.

READ MORE: Marketing Edinburgh chair releases full ‘Disneyfication’ speech

The charity’s director, Adam Wilkinson, has called on Mr Robertson to make a “public retraction” after his speech to industry leaders at the Balmoral Hotel. In his speech, Mr Robertson, who is also director of communications at Edinburgh Airport, accused critics of wanting the city “preserved in aspic” and suggested the “Disneyfication” of Edinburgh would not be a bad thing.

He questioned how the industry had “allowed others to push this tourism bad narrative and lose the battle of demonstrating the benefits tourism brings to the city”.

However, Edinburgh World Heritage has vowed to “ensure Edinburgh avoids the over-tourism experienced by other European cities.” The charity has previously sparked controversy by warning action is needed to ensure Edinburgh did not become a “hollow shell” like Venice and raised concerns that “commercial over-exploitation of the historic environment represents a threat to the authenticity of the site and will damage visitor appeal”.

Two official council reports in the past 12 months have set out growing concerns about the impact of the industry.

In his speech last week, Mr Robertson suggested “everybody hates a tourist” had almost become the “strapline” of the city over the summer due to “wearing” negativity from commentators, heritage bodies, politicians, residents and businesses. He joked that “everybody hates a tourist” was an excerpt of Edinburgh World Heritage’s board minutes, rather than a lyric by the indie band Pulp.

But last night, Mr Wilkinson hit back. He said: “We work hard to ensure the reason Edinburgh is such an attractive destination – our extraordinary historic environment – is conserved and remains a joy for all. Through almost 1,500 projects, large and small, we’ve helped to ensure our historic tenements, shops, major buildings and public spaces are cared for and conserved to a high standard. This summer we began to find a sustainable use for the Tron Kirk and have welcomed over 250,000 visitors to our exhibition, which explains what’s special about the city through the views and opinions of local people.

“For Mr Robertson to imply that Edinburgh World Heritage ‘hates tourists’ in a highly public setting is at best ill-judged, and at worst, an outright slur. It suggests a simplistic view of this city’s complex challenges. We formally request a public retraction.

“We’ll continue to call for a sustainable industry that balances the needs of visitors, residents and local businesses.”

Responding to the EWH statement, Mr Robertson said: “Edinburgh’s historical significance and its importance to its tourism offering is not in doubt. Neither is the vital contribution that heritage bodies make in preserving it.

“As my speech made clear, we all want an Edinburgh that is a world-class tourism destination and proud of it – a vibrant, modern city that conserves and celebrates its heritage. That looks forward, but understands where it’s from.

“However I believe that the conversation around Edinburgh tourism has to remain open, inclusive, lively and humorous – just like the attributes that this city is famed for.”

The city council currently provides Marketing Edinburgh with £890,000 in support each year, while Edinburgh World Heritage gets an annual grant of £46,000 from the local authority.

City council leader Adam McVey said: “It would be wrong of me to comment on a speech I did not hear at an event I was not at.

“That said, what Adam and Gordon clearly agree on - as do we - is the need for a wider debate around how we strike the right balance between the sustainable growth of our festivals and tourism with the needs of our residents and protecting our city’s heritage.

“We all share in common an ambition to help the city to flourish by introducing a tourist tax in Edinburgh, and I think that’s something we can all work productively towards.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845378.1545213792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5975337587001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/tory-msp-claims-there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-rape-clause-1-4845607","id":"1.4845607","articleHeadline": "Tory MSP claims ‘there is no such thing as a rape clause’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545142133000 ,"articleLead": "

A Scottish Conservative MSP has reignited the long-running political row over the two-child cap on tax credits by claiming “there is no such thing as a rape clause”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845606.1545137425!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brian Whittle MSP said there was 'no such thing' as a rape clause"} ,"articleBody": "

Brian Whittle, who represents the South of Scotland, said it was impossible to debate the controversial welfare reform as “the term rape clause is an invention to beat the Tories with”.

The comment was described as “skin-crawling” by Scottish Labour.

The limit on families claiming tax credits for their first two children was introduced by the UK Government in 2017. One of the exemptions is the so-called “rape clause”, which requires women to prove a child was conceived through rape or during an abusive relationship to qualify for the benefit.

READ MORE: Tories and Ruth Davidson under-fire over ‘abhorrent rape clause’

All parties at Holyrood, with the exception of the Scots Tories, have opposed the two-child cap. BMA Scotland described it as “shameful” while Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland have refused to co-operate with the implementation of the policy.

But in an outspoken interview with Holyrood magazine, Mr Whittle said: “This is where politics is appalling, there is no such thing as a rape clause. That’s an invention. There’s an exemption clause.”

He continued: “Why don’t we call it a children in care clause? Because it’s part of the same thing. I’ll tell you what I think about that, there’s a legitimate debate to be had around the child cap that will never happen because, politically, you wouldn’t be allowed to say what you’ve got to say.”

Scottish Labour Social Security spokesman Mark Griffin said: “This is a staggering interview packed with disgraceful comments from Brian Whittle.

“Calling the ‘rape clause’ an invention to attack the Tory party is simply skin-crawling.

“The clause is the product of an unfair cap that was implemented to penalise poor families so George Osborne could hand massive tax cuts to the wealthy.

“Labour across the UK will redesign social security - but Holyrood has the powers to defend families from the cap now. It’s clear that the Scottish Tories are every bit as nasty as their colleagues down south and are happy to leave the cap in place.”

Health secretary Jeane Freeman described Mr Whittle’s comments as a “desperate attempt to deny a rape clause exists in the his own party’s two child cap on benefits”.

She added: “He somehow thinks its unfair for him, a Tory politician, to be held accountable for his party’s destructive policies at Westminster.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845606.1545137425!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845606.1545137425!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brian Whittle MSP said there was 'no such thing' as a rape clause","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brian Whittle MSP said there was 'no such thing' as a rape clause","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845606.1545137425!/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/mp-slams-callous-bid-to-deport-edinburgh-graduate-living-in-scotland-for-16-years-1-4845306","id":"1.4845306","articleHeadline": "MP slams ‘callous’ bid to deport Edinburgh graduate living in Scotland for 16 years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545124583000 ,"articleLead": "

A Chinese woman who moved to Scotland legally as a child is facing deportation following a Home Office decision her MP has branded “callous”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845305.1545124579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chennan Fei has lived in Scotland for the past 16 years. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Charity volunteer Chennan Fei has lived in Scotland for 16 years, but for the last five has been battling the Home Office’s attempts to send her to China.

Living in Renton, West Dunbartonshire, she came to Scotland at the age of 13 with her parents who were studying at Glasgow University.

Despite building her life in the UK, getting a degree at Edinburgh University and becoming engaged to a Scotsman, she faces deportation because her now-estranged parents did not renew their status with the Government.

The 30-year-old now faces a immigration appeal hearing in Glasgow on Thursday, a year after a judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that officials attempting to send her to the country she had not visited in 15 years had not acted in accordance with the law.

More than 60,000 people have signed a petition urging the Home Secretary to intervene to allow Chennan to remain in Scotland, and her MP has condemned the “appealing treatment”.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said: “Scotland has been Chennan’s home for more than half her life. It’s where she has grown up, been educated at school and university, and it’s where she met and fell in love with her fiance Duncan.

“After spending over 16 years building a life here in Scotland, the prospect of Chennan being torn away from her loved ones through no fault of her own has been deeply distressing.

“Chennan is clearly a bright and talented young woman who has a lot to offer Scotland, yet the UK Home Office has gone to considerable effort to force her from her home.

“It highlights once again the folly of the UK government’s hostile immigration policies which all too often lack compassion and common sense.

“Chennan has been treated appallingly by the Home Office and has my full support in challenging this callous move to remove her from her home here in West Dunbartonshire.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Legal proceedings are ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845305.1545124579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845305.1545124579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chennan Fei has lived in Scotland for the past 16 years. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chennan Fei has lived in Scotland for the past 16 years. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845305.1545124579!/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/new-800-000-support-scheme-to-be-launched-for-eu-citizens-affected-by-brexit-1-4845409","id":"1.4845409","articleHeadline": "New £800,000 support scheme to be launched for EU citizens affected by Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545124209000 ,"articleLead": "

Europeans living in Scotland affected by immigration changes due to Brexit will be able to get support from a new £800,000 scheme.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845408.1545124206!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A new support scheme for EU citizens in Scotland is being launched. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Changing rules coming into force in March next year will mean EU citizens and their family members will be required to apply to secure their rights through an online system.

Consequently the Scottish Government is introducing a new service, through the Citizens Advice Bureau, to help EU nationals with their immigration status following the UK’s expected withdrawal from the European Union.

The Citizens Advice Bureau will begin increasing capacity to offer more advice and support, and a solicitor-led helpline will also be established for difficult and complex cases.

Read more: Defiant Theresa May dares Labour to try topple government

Visiting Leith Citizens Advice Bureau in Edinburgh on International Migrants Day, Scottish Government Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to doing all it can to speak up for and in support of EU citizens at this uncertain and anxious time.

“Scotland is a welcoming and progressive nation and we deeply value the huge contribution of all those who have chosen to make their home here.

“We passionately want relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues from other EU countries to stay in Scotland - and that is why this funding will help to give people reassurances about their rights and access advice about how to secure settled status through the UK Government’s immigration system.

“This new Scottish Government funded advice service will be over and above what the UK Government is proposing.

“By providing additional help, as well as being accessible at Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland, our service will have a particular focus on vulnerable and hard to reach groups who may find it difficult, or are unable or unwilling, to apply online without assistance, including people living in remote and rural areas.

“The Citizens Advice network is highly trusted and I am delighted to be partnering with them on this service. I hope that providing this additional service will help to ensure that EU citizens in Scotland - who are relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues - feel welcome, supported and valued during this uncertain time.”

Commenting on the controversial fee to apply to be recognised as a “settled” UK citizen of £65 for people 16 or over or £32.50 for under 16s, Mr Macpherson added: “The Scottish Government is clear that EU citizens should not be being asked to apply to retain the rights that they already have, and that they certainly should not be charged a fee for that application.

“We will continue to make the case that the UK Government should scrap their unfair fee for settled status applications.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The EU Settlement Scheme will make it simple and straightforward for EU citizens to get the status they need and they have until June 2021 to apply. We have already successfully processed many thousands of applications throughout the pilot of the scheme.

“We are working closely with organisations representing vulnerable EU citizens and we are providing up to £9 million grant funding to ensure they are supported in making their application.”

Read more: Brexit: What the no-confidence motion in Theresa May means

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Eden"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845408.1545124206!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845408.1545124206!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A new support scheme for EU citizens in Scotland is being launched. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A new support scheme for EU citizens in Scotland is being launched. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845408.1545124206!/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/cosla-job-losses-warning-over-scottish-budget-settlement-1-4845392","id":"1.4845392","articleHeadline": "Cosla job losses warning over Scottish budget settlement","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545117257000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish councils’ allocations in the draft budget put jobs and local services at risk, according to local government body Cosla.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845391.1545117252!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament"} ,"articleBody": "

Total funding for both the revenue and capital budget in the settlement is up more than £210 million, with overall Scottish Government support to local authorities at £11.1 billion.

This includes core funding and cash from other areas, but council umbrella body Cosla argues, due to money already committed and ring-fencing, both core capital and revenue budgets have been cut.

Cosla’s resources spokeswoman, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “This is a severe cut to the core budget that provides the vast majority of our essential services. This is bad news for communities - the impact on jobs and services is significant.

“The budget does not recognise our role as an employer, procurer and deliverer of essential services.

“If this settlement is not changed it will mean substantial job losses in places where local government is the main employer.”

Ms Macgregor added: “Without meaningful movement on the basic settlement and proper discussions around enabling local government to raise more locally, I fear we are running towards a cliff edge.”

The Scottish Government said it was protecting essential services by delivering a “real-terms funding increase for local government”.

Under the 2019-20 allocation, the government said Edinburgh City could recieve £848,085 in funding plus potential council tax income, Glasgow £1,437,768 and Dundee £328,167.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay said: “The Scottish Government has continued to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK government.

“After removing the health uplift, the Scottish Government fiscal resource block grant funding goes down by £340m or 1.3 per cent in real terms for 2019-20. Despite that reduction, we have still provided a two per cent real-terms uplift in the total local government settlement for 2019-20.

“If local authorities choose to use their powers to increase council tax by up to three per cent they can generate up to an additional £80m to support the delivery of essential local services.”

Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman James Kelly said: “Rather than insult people with spin, Derek MacKay should be delivering a budget that delivers the radical investment local services need.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Once again local government is getting the short end of the stick.”

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “It’s increasingly clear that the Scottish Government’s proposed budget cuts will force local councils to slash front-line services.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845391.1545117252!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845391.1545117252!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Derek Mackay. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845391.1545117252!/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/mary-church-donald-trump-and-eu-lead-world-astray-on-climate-change-1-4845146","id":"1.4845146","articleHeadline": "Mary Church: Donald Trump and EU lead world astray on climate change","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545112800000 ,"articleLead": "

The world is failing to take the necssary action over climate change at what is perhaps the most important crossroads in the history of humanity, writes Mary Church.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845145.1545055654!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Did COP24 president Michal Kurtyka's 'jump for joy' mask a lack of real action? (Picture: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

Katowice might go down in history as the longest UN climate talks ever, opening a day early and finishing a whole day late, but it will also surely be remembered – if there is anyone left alive to read the history books – as the conference that failed, despite the extra time, to act on the basis of science and respond appropriately.

Because, an appropriate response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s terrifying warning of only two months ago that we have merely a decade to avoid truly catastrophic warming would be to require an absolutely massive increase in efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Such an effort would look like a minimum average reduction of 12 per cent a year across the EU, and comparable cuts in developed countries around the world – along with the provision of hundreds of billions in climate finance to the global south.

To put this in context – Scotland is amongst a handful of countries with the strongest climate change targets in the industrialised world, and yet our legislation requires only three per cent a year; something we have struggled to achieve more than once. Meanwhile our well-intentioned Climate Justice Fund amounts to barely a drop in the ocean of the finance needed.

Instead, what we saw at the talks in Poland, known as COP24, was an effort led by the US to fundamentally deny the science of climate change, and to reinterpret the Paris Agreement in determining how it should be implemented.

The US is the only country in the world that has not endorsed the findings of an IPCC special report, Global Warming of 1.5C. And, backed by an unholy trinity of big oil and gas producing nations – Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – it ensured that the Paris Agreement processes designed to ramp up climate action would not integrate the latest science.

READ MORE: Insight: 2018, a bellwether year for global climate change disaster

The US also led efforts to erode the principle of equity – or common but differentiated responsibility – that is core to the Paris Agreement, recognising the historical responsibility and greater capacity of nations in the rich, industrialised West to shoulder the burden of action to tackle the climate crisis. With Trump at the helm, it’s easy to point to the US as the villain of the piece. But what of the EU as a negotiating bloc and other so-called progressive forces? In what was part a misguided attempt to create space for the US to come back into the Paris Agreement (during the four years it takes to actually leave), the EU and other developed countries either supported or hid behind the US in watering down the Paris Rulebook and any mandate for increased action. In part, the EU’s behaviour in these talks is due to its member states’ refusal to confront the need for deep systemic changes worldwide as the only answer to the climate crisis.

The story of rising emissions and an emerging climate crisis over the last 250 years is also the story of a struggle for improved living and working conditions on the one hand, and on the other, of powerful interests – whether nation states or corporations – growing rich at the expense of others.

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Why politicians are failing to tackle climate change

If standards of living have improved in many parts of the world, inequalities within countries are growing. Reliance on neoliberal market-led solutions is not working: either in terms of improving people’s standards of living and well-being, or in terms of driving down emissions. The failure of governments to address the root causes of the multiple crises afflicting both global north and south – poverty, lack of access to energy, polluted air and water, inadequate transport, unemployment or precarious work, increasing mental health problems and isolation – is driving voters into the arms of opportunistic, self-serving extremists who offer simple, if violent, answers. Trump, Erdogan in Turkey, Duarte in The Philippines, many of the politicians who argued for Brexit, and now Bolsonaro in Brazil. Their lies are as easy to swallow as the mantras of centrists, left and right, who are unable to see beyond business as usual, unable to break free from the corporate fossil fuel interests that dominate in the corridors of power.

We are at perhaps the most important crossroads in the history of humanity: to respond effectively to the climate crisis, or not, and face a slow, painful extinction. Almost all governments, including our own, at devolved and UK level, talk the talk of acknowledging the crisis and responding accordingly. But responses to date have, for the most part, simply shifted our emissions to China and other growing emitters who produce much of what we continue to consume. Global emissions continue to rise and show little sign of peaking.

There is no more time to waste tinkering at the edges of a global economic system that has both caused and failed to address the climate crisis. It is time for deep, systemic changes to the way we produce food and what we eat, to the way we produce and consume energy, to the way we travel, to how our clothes are produced, and how quickly we discard them, to our work-life balance, to what is recognised as work and how it is rewarded; ultimately to what is recognised as ‘success’ and what people aspire to, reconnecting with what makes us human. To get to that place we need an honest and open dialogue across society about how to create a system that puts people before profits. We need a just transition to a fossil-free economy, where public goods are democratically owned. These are big asks! But if we act together we can make them happen. We have to make them happen – our very survival and the survival of future generations depends on it.

Mary Church, head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth Scotland, spent the last two weeks at the UN climate conference in Katowice

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Mary Church"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845145.1545055654!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845145.1545055654!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Did COP24 president Michal Kurtyka's 'jump for joy' mask a lack of real action? (Picture: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Did COP24 president Michal Kurtyka's 'jump for joy' mask a lack of real action? (Picture: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845145.1545055654!/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/science-must-be-put-above-the-politics-of-fishing-jonny-hughes-1-4845345","id":"1.4845345","articleHeadline": "Science must be put above the politics of fishing – Jonny Hughes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545112800000 ,"articleLead": "

The annual round of EU fishing negotiations that concludes today in Brussels is a much less fractious affair than it was a decade ago. Nowadays ministers from EU member states are more likely to listen to scientists on the total allowable catches for different fish species, writes Jonny Hughes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4832457.1545075396!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fish and chips are synonymous with eating habits in these islands"} ,"articleBody": "

This is something we should all welcome given that the fish in our seas are a common resource. They are owned by no one but the responsibility of everyone – not just those to whom we grant rights to fish.

The history of over-exploitation of fish stocks in Scottish waters is a well-documented tragedy. Herring provided tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland and was the principal source of protein for millions of people in Britain before the fish began to disappear in the 1960s. The North Sea herring fishery suffered a total collapse and had completely closed down by 1978.

History almost repeated itself with North Sea cod when stocks dwindled to just 36,000 tonnes in 2006 from over 270,000 tonnes in the early 1970s. This time the collapse was averted thanks to a recovery plan which included closing key spawning areas to fishing, real-time closures to protect aggregations, limiting days at sea and testing less damaging fishing nets. By 2017, the Marine Stewardship Council had certified North Sea cod as sustainable.

READ MORE: Five families control 33% of Scottish fishing rights

This is good progress but we remain a long way from a return to healthy and productive seas. Only a quarter of fish and shellfish stocks in the EU are in good health as measured by fishing mortality and reproductive capacity. Compare that to the 19th century when a single boat could catch a tonne of halibut on the Dogger Bank in one day. Such bounteous times are unlikely to ever return and, whilst the recent story of recovery is more promising in the north-east Atlantic and Baltic Sea, the situation remains desperate in the Mediterranean and Black Seas where almost every commercial species is in critical condition.

Whatever happens now with Brexit, Scotland and the rest of the UK will need to continue to talk with our neighbours. Fish will always swim between political boundaries so negotiations on who can catch what, how much, when and where will always be needed, whether we are in the Common Fisheries Policy or not.

Climate change is impacting where fish spawn and gather so future agreements will also need to consider the rapidly shifting marine ecosystem. Squid, anchovies and blue-fin tuna are all moving into UK waters in response to seas warming by an extraordinary 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade.

READ MORE: Scottish Tories warn Theresa May over post-Brexit fishing rights

To effectively manage our fisheries in a sustainable manner that benefits our environment and economy, as well as fishing communities, we need action in a number of areas, including developing a well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas that safeguards the often fragile habitats used by spawning fish.

We also need to increase efforts to monitor fishing boats to ensure they comply with rules; take decisions on the management of fisheries based on robust evidence and within environmental limits; and ensure the impacts of fishing activities on the environment are taken into account. As we move into a period of ecological and political uncertainty, it is vital that we continue to put science above the febrile politics of fishing. Only through a strong network of protected areas and by ensuring allowances are based on strong evidence will we be able to ensure a steady supply of fish for our tables.

Jonny Hughes is chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Follow him on Twitter @JonnyEcology.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jonny Hughes"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4832457.1545075396!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4832457.1545075396!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fish and chips are synonymous with eating habits in these islands","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fish and chips are synonymous with eating habits in these islands","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4832457.1545075396!/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/why-brexit-adds-to-fears-over-global-democracy-leader-comment-1-4845346","id":"1.4845346","articleHeadline": "Why Brexit adds to fears over global democracy – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545112800000 ,"articleLead": "

Lords committee warns Trump is damaging special relationship with UK as undemocratic China’s power increases

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845344.1545075397!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The UK should try to remain best friends with the EU after the Brexit divorce (Picture: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)"} ,"articleBody": "

Earlier this year, the UK was ranked as the country with the most ‘soft power’ in the world. The Portland Index decided institutions such as the BBC World Service, the British Council and our universities helped give the UK more cultural clout than any other nation.

However, Britain did have a “major weakness”, meaning it only narrowly edged out France for first place: uncertainty about Brexit.

As our politicians continued to do little to resolve that uncertainty – with Theresa May saying MPs will vote on her unaltered Brexit plan in about a month, as Jeremy Corbyn called for a vote of no confidence in her personally, rather than the Government itself – the House of Lords International Relations Committee published a report spelling out the diplomatic challenges ahead. It didn’t make for happy reading.

The committee described Trump’s controversial leadership as being “contrary to the interests of the UK”, citing a number of issues from Iran to steel tariffs and warning that if he was re-elected in 2020 there would be “longer lasting” damage. And Britain would increasingly need to work with undemocratic countries like China, whose “approach to its international role, and its impact on the rules-based international order” had to be balanced against its “growing economic significance”.

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn to table motion of no-confidence in Theresa May

Add Russia’s “disinformation campaigns” and “hybrid warfare tactics” into the mix, and the Lords concluded it was “firmly in the UK’s national interest to maintain the strongest possible partnership on foreign and security policy with its like-minded European partners, both bilaterally and at an EU level, after Brexit”.

So, it appears that the UK will need to try to remain the very best of friends with our current partners, after what has been an at times bitter divorce process.

Brexit is often discussed in terms of pure economics or the effect on people in the UK. But when the world’s greatest ‘soft power’ changes so radically, other countries may experience at least some of the fallout, particularly amid the rise of dictatorships like China.

As Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Lords committee: “As a new boy to the world of foreign affairs, it seems to me that the world order is changing very dramatically. We had a golden period for democratic values in the 30 years that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ... we are once again moving into a period in which we cannot have that complacency [about democracy] at all.”

READ MORE: Brexit: What the no-confidence motion in Theresa May means

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845344.1545075397!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845344.1545075397!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The UK should try to remain best friends with the EU after the Brexit divorce (Picture: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The UK should try to remain best friends with the EU after the Brexit divorce (Picture: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845344.1545075397!/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/a-brexit-carol-theresa-may-haunted-by-three-ghosts-paris-gourtsoyannis-1-4845341","id":"1.4845341","articleHeadline": "A Brexit Carol: Theresa May haunted by three ghosts – Paris Gourtsoyannis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545112800000 ,"articleLead": "

As she tries to save her Brexit deal, what would happen if Theresa May got a ghostly visit or three this Christmas, wonders Paris Gourtsoyannis.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845340.1545122767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "What could be scarier for the Prime Minister than the Ghost of Brexit Yet to Come?"} ,"articleBody": "

Theresa May’s Brexit deal was dead. Dead as a doornail.

Yet of all the good days in the year, on Christmas eve the Prime Minister still sat in her Downing Street office, the door open that she might keep an eye on her clerks.

Gavin Barwell and Robbie Gibb sat in the light of a very small fire, barely visible in the shadows cast by piles of draft Withdrawal Agreements, assurances and side-letters, backstops to the backstop, and flowcharts pointing at different fates for May.

Hands freezing, backs bent, they scratched out desperate plans to force her deal through the Commons. Scurrying over the floorboards in the dark, damp corners, whips searched for votes.

May’s phone vibrated and cast a shaft of light into the darkness – a text. “You don’t have to do this, Theresa. I’m just trying to help. Merry Christmas, TB.”

“Nothing has changed!” she wheezed, firing back: “Keep Brexit in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

Leaving her clerks to their work, May climbed the stairs to her apartment to take her melancholy dinner and try and unwind in front of a relaxing episode of ‘Naval Crime Investigation Service (NCIS)’.

No sooner had she nodded off than May was awoken by a clanking, thudding sound on the stairs, growing closer, and louder, relentless and doom-laden, like the Telegraph comment section.

Through her closed bedroom door a figure appeared, and the blue TV light crackled and leapt as though it cried: “I know him; Nick Timothy’s ghost!”

The same beardy face, the same name. The chain her former special adviser drew was clasped about his middle and dragged bundles of newspapers.

“But Nick,” May whimpered, cowering, “you’re in chains.”

“It is required of every man,” Timothy replied, “that if they are not self-aware in life, then it is condemned to be after death.”

The spectre raised a cry and shook its columns. “I wear the chain I made in Downing Street,” it said; “I made it line by line, blame by shifted blame.

“I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate,” Timothy went on. “You will be haunted by Three Spirits.”

May awoke with a start, but before she could convince herself it was a dream, light flashed and the curtains of her bed were drawn. She found herself before a strange figure, with a face like child, yet not so like a child as like an old man.

“David,” she said, recognising her predecessor. “Are you a spirit, too?”

“I am the Ghost of Brexit Past,” David Cameron intoned. “Yours, thankfully, not mine.”

She took him by the hand and the pair flew into the past, alighting first at a 2016 meeting with Goldman Sachs bankers, where she warned Brexit would deter investment in the UK, then to a speech where she warned of the risks to EU-wide security cooperation.

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn to table no confidence motion in PM if Brexit vote date not set

On to her first Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, where she said “Citizens of the World” were really “Citizens of Nowhere”, and then back to Downing Street. “Your lip is trembling,” said the Ghost. “And what is that upon your cheek?” For this was where May called an election accusing the EU of undermining Brexit, then lost her majority.

May awoke for a second time, and found her bedroom filled from top to bottom with angry men in suits, discussing in the most extravagant and overflowing terms exactly how they were going to dispose of her. “Come in!” exclaimed the weird and not-at-all-jolly giant presiding over the European Research Group. “I am the Ghost of Brexit Present, and we’re going to feed you into a wood chipper.”

Issuing bloody threats all the while, the spirit showed May ordinary families ruining their Christmas dinners with arguments about Europe, plotting MPs, fruit crops rotting in polytunnels, and more angry figures in yellow vests shouting about betrayal.

“All this is possible thanks to you; isn’t it great?” the Ghost said. “Can’t wait to boil you in a pot.”

And suddenly, he was gone. Lifting up her eyes, May beheld a solemn phantom, draped and hooded, coming towards her like a mist along the ground that has somehow managed not to be sacked. “Jeremy?” she asked. “But you’re a Remainer!” Jeremy Hunt answered not, but gave a hooded, sepulchral shrug.

“Ghost of Brexit that is Yet to Come!” May exclaimed. “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen.” And truly, the sights of no-deal Brexit Britain chilled May to the bone.

She was transported back to her Commons office, but behind her desk Prime Minister Tom Tugendhat had his head in his hands. His government of national unity, formed in the wake of splits in the two main parties, was collapsing. Amid a stack of resignation letters were demands from Nicola Sturgeon for a Section 30 order, and calls from Sinn Fein for a border poll in Northern Ireland.

In the streets, protesters gathered round skips filled with burning copies of David Cameron’s memoirs for warmth. There were no negotiations with the EU; Brussels was in chaos since the far right surged in European elections. Nor was President Pence in a position to offer a trade deal, what with the legal trouble.

The spectre took May to conflicts in Ukraine and Yemen, where the UK had given up any pretence of exerting its influence. And they visited China, which continued to suck up production and jobs as the West dismantled the world trade system it had designed. Actually, they went to Japan first before Hunt worked out his mistake.

“Good spirit,” May cried when she had seen these things; “Assure me that I may yet change these shadows. I will live in the past, present and future. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

She awoke with a start again, and knew things were different. Flinging open the window of Number 10, she made a series of unnatural jerking movements, like a jostled shop mannequin about to topple over.

“But darling,” cried her husband Philip, “you’re dancing with joy! And only last night you were so despondent.”

Beaming, she turned to him. “I know what I have to do.”

READ MORE: Brexit: There’s only one way out of this screw-up – Christine Jardine

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845340.1545122767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845340.1545122767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "What could be scarier for the Prime Minister than the Ghost of Brexit Yet to Come?","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "What could be scarier for the Prime Minister than the Ghost of Brexit Yet to Come?","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845340.1545122767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5796987730001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/conservatives-call-for-action-in-battle-to-combat-loneliness-1-4845339","id":"1.4845339","articleHeadline": "Conservatives call for action in battle to combat loneliness","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545075081000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Conservatives have called on ministers to deliver on a pledge to publish a national strategy to combat loneliness by the end of the year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845338.1545075077!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative Annie Wells. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The government vowed to publish the new strategy, one of the first in the world, by the end of 2018.

The Tories said the wait since a public consultation closed in April was “disappointing”.

Now the party has put forward its own action plan to tackle loneliness, calling for a national awareness campaign and for more attention on the extent of the problem among young people.

The plan proposes to encourage people to check on their neighbours and get involved in the local community, and involves a Scottish National Loneliness Day in December.

Further actions put forward include teaching children about loneliness and the importance of social relationships as part of the curriculum, and funding inter-generational projects such as having a council nursery in an elderly care home.

The party also wants faster rollout of the community link worker scheme.

These are generalist social practitioners based in GP practices and the party claims 56 of the 250 the Scottish Government promised to employ by the end of the parliamentary session are currently in place.

Scottish Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “Loneliness is a health problem which can have significant effects on those who feel alone, regardless of age.

“Particularly as we near Christmas there are many people who simply don’t have access to the company of others, or feel as though they are isolated, despite the many people around them.

“While the SNP Government’s consultation on loneliness was welcome, it is disappointing that we have had to wait so long for the results.

“The Scottish Conservative Loneliness Action Plan includes an increased focus on youth loneliness, raises awareness across the country and embraces new technological solutions to tackle this growing problem.

“As we near the end of 2018, the Year of Young People, it would be a fitting tribute for the SNP government to announce extra support to help bring different generations together.”

The Scottish Government said the new strategy was being published on Tuesday.

Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities, said: “We are leading the way in tackling social isolation and loneliness, as we recognise it can affect anyone, at all ages and stages of life.

“Our new national strategy is built on the consultation responses we received and is a major step towards building a more connected Scotland where social isolation and loneliness are reduced.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845338.1545075077!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845338.1545075077!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Conservative Annie Wells. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative Annie Wells. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845338.1545075077!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}