{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-no-one-should-be-hung-from-a-lamp-post-ayesha-hazarika-1-4873469","id":"1.4873469","articleHeadline": "Brexit: No one should be ‘hung from a lamp post’ – Ayesha Hazarika","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210400000 ,"articleLead": "

As arguments over Brexit rage, the tide of online hatred is starting to inundate real-life public discourse with women a particular target, writes Ayesha Hazarika.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873468.1550164390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing extremist (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

I always love a trip to Glasgow. Especially for the old banter with the black cab drivers which tends to be much funnier and lighter than the usual London rant about Brexit and Sadiq Khan.

On my way to Glasgow airport last week, I was chatting away to a very nice driver who had been nothing but charming until we started talking about politics. I (stupidly) asked him what he thought of our political leaders.

“Alex Salmond – chancer. Nicola Sturgeon – chancer. Jeremy Corbyn – clown. And as for that Gina Miller – I want to see her hung and swinging from a lamppost ... stupid bitch.”

It all went a bit quiet after that.

This type of aggression is not just on the rise, but it’s part and parcel of how we discuss our politics. You can’t just disagree with someone. You can’t debate policies or ideas using facts, evidence or history.

No. You have to call them thick, evil, demonise them, then call them a traitor.

It also helps to find something really personal about them or their family to attack them about – their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance or disability. Demanding they go home is also good one. And the icing on the cake is a physical threat of some kind.

READ MORE: Tory MP accuses police of ignoring abuse aimed at politicians

It helps if it’s a woman you’re attacking, as you can always terrorise her with sexual violence like a rape threat or good old-fashioned murder. Welcome to Britain in 2019. Don’t you feel a warm glow?

I read vile things online on a daily basis. About myself and about other female politicians, writers and pretty much any woman in the public eye with an opinion.

But it feels like there’s a level of menace which risks moving from our screens into real life – as we saw with the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 by a right-wing extremist.

Women of all political stripes get abuse. Diane Abbott is the most targeted female politician and most of her abuse is violent, racist and sexist. Anna Soubry was physically intimidated and abused outside Parliament by protesters because of her stance on opposing Brexit.

The same men also threatened left-wing commentator Owen Jones. A man was arrested earlier this month for alleged death threats against Yvette Cooper.

READ MORE: Brexit: ‘Nazi’ slur is dangerous for democracy – leader comment

And of course, we have seen the shameful anti-semitic and political abuse of Jewish MP Luciana Berger, which has resulted in three men being jailed for threats in separate cases over the last three years. One sent her a message saying she “would get it like Jo Cox”.

And it’s not just high-profile MPs. Female councillors are also subject to harassment and often don’t feel safe during their surgeries. Recent research from Sheffield University found that online abuse of MPs more than doubled between 2015 and 2017.

I get that people are engaged, passionate and indeed furious about a whole range of political, economic and social issues from Brexit to austerity to Scottish independence.

It’s good for people to care about issues, but we are also becoming a country which can only seem to communicate in ways which are hateful, venal and aggressive.

And what becomes normalised online risks bleeding into real life, especially if you’re a woman with a view. And that scares me, as it should us all.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873468.1550164390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873468.1550164390!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing extremist (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing extremist (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873468.1550164390!/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/joyce-mcmillan-whether-it-s-winston-churchill-or-shamima-begum-beware-the-simplicity-of-hate-1-4873533","id":"1.4873533","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: Whether it’s Winston Churchill or Shamima Begum, beware the simplicity of hate","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210400000 ,"articleLead": "

Oscar Wilde once said the truth is rarely pure and never simple – and we should remember that amid attempts to turn John McDonnell, Winston Churchill or Shamima Begum into hate figures, writes Joyce McMillan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873532.1550172881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shamima Begum, then 15, seen at Gatwick Airport in 2015 as she travelled to Syria (Picture: AFP/Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

In an age of extreme polarisation in politics, any brief moment of subtlety and nuance comes as a blessing. Yesterday morning, 12 hours after the publication of the news that one of the Bethnal Green schoolgirls who fled in 2015 to join the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had been found alive in a Syrian refugee camp, BBC News took itself down to Bethnal Green, where around half of the population are from a Muslim background, to seek some opinions about what Britain should do about 19-year-old Shamima Begum, and her future.

According to her interview with Times journalist Anthony Loyd, Shamima Begum is unrepentant but grief-stricken following the loss of two young children, almost nine months pregnant, and eager to come back to Britain; and the people of Bethnal Green had clearly given the subject some thought. Some felt she had been groomed and brainwashed as a 15-year-old child, and deserved a second chance. Some felt that as a British citizen she should be allowed to return, but made to face the full force of the law. Some thought that she had made her choice in 2015, and should have to live with the consequences, even if that means permanent exile; and all seemed aware of the complexities involved in reaching a decision on such a case.

Meanwhile, though, the online haters were having a field day, exchanging ideas on exactly what kind of bloody end Begum should meet; and the truth is that it’s that online world of instant and vicious judgment that now dominates the tone of public debate, in the UK as elsewhere. It takes its cue from the brutal, hate-mongering headlines long beloved of some sections of the popular press; and it revels in stories like this week’s fierce spat over the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s decision to reply “Tonypandy – villain”, when asked in a quick-fire Q&A session whether he classed Winston Churchill as a villain or a hero.

In any sane political world, of course, it would be generally acknowledged that Winston Churchill was both of those things, at different times and in different contexts. In the current hectic state of global, UK and even Scottish politics, though, such complexity will not do. Like the young Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer, a couple of weeks ago, McDonnell now finds himself grilled, pilloried, damned and kebabbed (as Neil Kinnock once memorably put it) for daring to acknowledge the once well-known dark side of this Tory idol. “With us or against us,” yell the zealots of the new patriotism police; and the same fate will doubtless, in the end, meet anyone who argues too strongly for the rehabilitation of Shamima Begum. The woman is obviously evil, say those who wish to divide the world into a morally perfect “us” and a morally inexcusable “them”; and anyone who speaks up for her is clearly as dangerous as she is.

READ MORE: Heavily pregnant British schoolgirl who joined Isis wants to return home

Now of course, in our adult moments, all of us know that this kind of “othering” is an immature and dangerous mode of thought. Every book of wisdom known to humanity, including the Bible, warns us sternly of the dangers of judging others while failing to judge ourselves; yet still, we tend to suppress negative aspects of our history to the extent that many people see any mention of them as treachery. The Brexit folly has of course fiercely redoubled this tendency in Britain, offering some kind of licence to those who see all things British as good, and all things foreign as intrinsically inferior. The #metoo movement has led to troubling debates about how we should think of sometime heroes now damned for alleged sexual crimes and misdemeanours. And the once turgidly sensible waters of Scottish politics are now also troubled by the wave of polarisation, as extremists on both sides of the independence debate go at each other with levels of moral disgust and blazing hatred that seem out of proportion to a debate about the technical relocation of limited political powers, in a globalised economy now facing such massive existential threats.

So what can a responsible citizen do, in a time when such madness has the upper hand? The first rule, I suppose, is to refuse to be drawn into debates conducted in such absolutist and misleading terms. The second is to know how to take sides – which it is often important to do, particularly in a time of rising neo-fascism – without succumbing to an ideology of hate.

And the third, I think, is to remember that there is at least one field – the arts, music, culture, every kind of creativity – where the acceptance of complexity, in the search for a sense of truth, is an essential part of the work. This week, I sent out a message mentioning a new play now on tour about the wartime Labour Secretary of State for Scotland Tom Johnston, and his role in promoting hydro power in the Highlands; and within seconds, one or two independence supporters were on the case, slamming Johnston as a Labour imperialist who had drowned people out of their Highland glens without consultation or compassion.

Yet to work at all, the play – precisely because it is a play – will have to involve conflict, debate, and questioning of Johnston, as well as a celebration. In a world of increasingly dangerous polarisation, in other words, a responsible citizen’s job is to do as the people of Midlothian did this week, when they rebelled against the decision to end free music tuition in their schools; and to go on carving out and cherishing the creative civic spaces where people can meet and be together, experience music and stories and debate together, and begin to find the common ground on which they can build a lasting future. As Oscar Wilde said, more than a century ago, the truth is rarely pure, and never simple; and while the world’s haters once again begin the futile attempt to build a future on a basis of simplistic lies, it matters more than ever that we hold those places of creativity and complexity open with all our strength, and never let them go.

READ MORE: Dear John McDonnell, if Winston Churchill is a villain, who is a hero? – Alastair Stewart

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873532.1550172881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873532.1550172881!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shamima Begum, then 15, seen at Gatwick Airport in 2015 as she travelled to Syria (Picture: AFP/Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shamima Begum, then 15, seen at Gatwick Airport in 2015 as she travelled to Syria (Picture: AFP/Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873532.1550172881!/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/brexit-corbyn-and-may-s-lack-of-plain-speaking-is-a-serious-problem-paris-gourtsoyannis-1-4873442","id":"1.4873442","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Corbyn and May’s lack of plain-speaking is a serious problem – Paris Gourtsoyannis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550161165000 ,"articleLead": "

As Brexit looms, our leaders have kept us guessing on the big decisions ahead. It hasn’t helped anyone, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873441.1550161162!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Something to tell us? It's not clear if Theresa May will press ahead with a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Liam McBurney ' WPA Pool/Getty Image)"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking to politicians and other government insiders about what happens next, the most worrying responses aren’t from those who admit they don’t know. It’s the ones who ask in return: “What do you think?”

Having been cursed to live in interesting times, it’s an unhappy coincidence that we also live in an age of the inscrutable leader. Big decisions loom, not for the next generation but in the next month: Will there really be a no-deal Brexit? Is there any chance of a second EU referendum? And what about one on Scottish independence? Uncertainty clouds all of these issues, because the people in charge simply won’t say with any clarity what they think should happen.

Some of the early bravado has fallen away, but Theresa May insists the UK is going to leave the EU on 29 March – whether or not there’s a Brexit deal and the necessary legislation is in place.

Half her Cabinet and her top Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, are reported to believe this is nonsense. And so the question continues to be asked: “Will she really lead the UK over a cliff?” Some say it would be against her nature, but others worry that May’s loyalty to the Conservative Party outweighs her pragmatism. However, because in public remarks she rarely emerges from behind the boilerplate, we just don’t know.

READ MORE: SNP adviser calls for ‘softest of all’ forms of Scottish independence

Likewise, Nicola Sturgeon wants another shot at independence. An announcement about when and under what circumstances is coming and, in fairness to the First Minister, Brexit is a big factor in those decisions. But in appealing to both the SNP faithful and a worried nation, she has kept the public guessing about her true intentions, and how soon there could be fresh constitutional upheaval.

Jeremy Corbyn’s euroscepticism was never a secret, but to keep a divided party together, he tried to paper over it with a commitment to keep a second EU referendum on the table. It’s a cruel irony for those that believed him that videos of Corbyn bitterly opposing the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty emerged just as it became clear a so-called People’s Vote wasn’t going to happen.

In what feels like a package deal with Putin’s Cold War routine, Kremlinology is back. Our leaders don’t care to tell us what they really think, so we’re forced to guess. Sometimes the ebb and flow of internal party debate – the strength of the adjectives in this address, or the striking out of a phrase from that statement – is worth recording. But there’s a futility to a lot of Brexit-related reporting in that it tells us nothing new, only reminds us of what we should already know: that no one knows where the UK is going.

It doesn’t help that despite communication being a big (the biggest?) part of leadership, no modern combination of Prime Minister and leader of the opposition have found the media so alien. Sturgeon, at least, is a chat show host compared to her political rivals – and to many in her own party.

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for ‘Lexit’ will see the left eaten alive – Kenny MacAskill

This is a problem, not just in terms of the actual decisions needing to be taken, but for political culture as a whole. Part of the reason supposed ‘plain talkers’ like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are popular is the perception of a vacillating, triangulating political elite sitting on the fence. Getting big decisions right takes time and space for informed debate, with lots of troublesome facts and experts. The people in the driving seat still need to give the impression of holding the wheel and choosing a general direction.

The ambiguity leaves open the worrying and plausible case that our leaders aren’t just keeping their cunning plans secret – they simply don’t have a clue what to do. In that case, the public often get asked to take responsibility – “What do you think?” But that’s where our troubles began.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873441.1550161162!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873441.1550161162!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Something to tell us? It's not clear if Theresa May will press ahead with a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Liam McBurney ' WPA Pool/Getty Image)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Something to tell us? It's not clear if Theresa May will press ahead with a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Liam McBurney ' WPA Pool/Getty Image)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873441.1550161162!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-adviser-calls-for-softest-of-all-form-of-scottish-independence-1-4873363","id":"1.4873363","articleHeadline": "SNP adviser calls for ‘softest of all’ form of Scottish independence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550157171000 ,"articleLead": "

A key economic adviser to Nicola Sturgeon has called for the “softest of all” forms of independence in order to win a Yes vote.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873362.1550157167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew Wilson with a copy of the Sustainable Growth Commission report published last year. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Andrew Wilson, who penned the recently revised economic blueprint for an independent Scotland - the Sustainable Growth Commission - says this is the way to “win big.”

But the ex-SNP MSP’s comments prompted criticism from pro-union parties who insisted there is “no such thing” as soft independence.

Ms Sturgeon has pledged to set out her timetable for a second referendum in the coming weeks. The pro-independence campaign has faced increasingly awkward questions over the practicalities of leaving a centuries old union, in light of the turmoil engulfing the UK over its looming departure from the EU.

READ MORE: Law officer refuses to reveal if Sturgeon asked for indyref2 advice

But Mr Wilson sought to play down such concerns in his weekly column for the national newspaper today.

“In the parlance of Brexit, we offer the softest of possible changes to the current arrangements, not the hardest,” he said.

“We recognise the level of integration and all the ties that have bound us for centuries. We create a platform that can unify a majority for progress that stands a chance of winning and winning big.”

Mr Wilson’s prospectus set out plans for caps in public spending in the early years of independence to address Scotland’s deficit and warned against a more radical outlook within the Nationalist movement.

He added: “Some (a very small number) would rather move immediately and overnight to a Marxist revolutionary state. That is their right, but they won’t win the chance to try.”

But Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “There is no such thing as soft independence.

“Independence would involve breaking up the most successful union the world has ever seen, building barriers between families, friends and neighbours.

“It would divide our home market, jeopardising our economy, and lead to further and deeper austerity.”

Labour’s finance spokesman James Kelly added: “The author of the so-called Growth Commission can try and rebrand leaving the UK however he likes, but in reality his plans mean another decade of austerity for Scotland and an economic model that works for big business, not workers.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873362.1550157167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873362.1550157167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andrew Wilson with a copy of the Sustainable Growth Commission report published last year. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew Wilson with a copy of the Sustainable Growth Commission report published last year. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873362.1550157167!/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/dear-john-mcdonnell-if-winston-churchill-is-a-villain-who-is-a-hero-alastair-stewart-1-4873205","id":"1.4873205","articleHeadline": "Dear John McDonnell, if Winston Churchill is a villain, who is a hero? – Alastair Stewart","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550152331000 ,"articleLead": "

And here we go again. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has branded Winston Churchill a “villain” over his response to the Tonypandy riots in 1910.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873204.1550150740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Churchill's role in the Tonypandy riots of 1910 meant he was a 'villain' rather than a hero (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire)"} ,"articleBody": "

His comments follow MSP Ross Greer’s accusation last month that the wartime leader was a “white supremacist” and a “mass murderer”.

Was Churchill a villain? Yes! Of course he was! Any historical figure is if you’re determined to find fault with them.

But please, goodness, if you’re going to target a British statesman dead for 50 years let’s set some ground rules: no one is above reproach. Mohandas Gandhi was obsessed with sex; Martin Luther King Jr plagiarised parts of his doctoral dissertation and JFK had innumerable affairs to say nothing of the Bay of Pigs.

Inconvenient truths about ‘iconic’ figures are better than fabricated lies. The Miners Strike of 1910, to which McDonnell refers, took place in south Wales when Churchill was Home Secretary. He was alleged to have sent troops to intervene, but like the Glasgow strikes (or the ‘Battle of George Square’) in 1919, Churchill left the request for troops to local authorities. In each case, both events are held up as proof of Churchill’s innate barbarism and alleged anti-trade union feeling despite all evidence to the contrary.

The real question is why bring it up now when Churchill has been dead for 54 years? Consider what Churchill represents and to whom.

READ MORE: Winston Churchill: Ross Greer is wrong, but so is Piers Morgan – Alastair Stewart

I’ve written before in The Scotsman that he’s stuck in a tug of war between a cult of sycophants and a gang of detractors determined to knock him down. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.

Churchill is a symbol of British defiance; he’s also the starting gun on a question that has dogged British foreign policy and public opinion for 70 years – does Europe owe us something?

The mind boggles as to what could possibly be on the mind of McDonnell when taking aim at Churchill.

Could it perhaps be about the Brexit debacle that he and his party are engaged in? A bit of a “back in your place” backhand to the more radical Brexiteers who’ve adopted Churchill, Spitfires and Dunkirk as their own personal raison d’etre for why Britain must leave the European Union?

There’s not a political ‘icon’ in the history of the British Isles who cannot be hijacked by issues of the day. Margaret Thatcher, forever the bugbear of the left, introduced the Right to Buy. Clement Attlee, the dartboard bull’s eye for the right, also happened to have developed Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

It’s impossible to refute Churchill as a British symbol whether you like him or loathe him. He belonged to the Liberals and the Conservatives and was as much a failure as a success in public office.

READ MORE: Scottish independence would strip Churchill of his ‘Britishness’ – Alastair Stewart

There are over 1,000 books written about him, and it is utter lunacy to think they’re all self-indulgent sycophancy. There is enough critical material on Churchill to avoid coddling myth-making and hyperbole to serve contemporary political interests.

Churchill was a realist, a romantic and a historian. From a young age, his profound sense of destiny was wrapped up in himself. His conceited bombast and polymathic talent guaranteed that even if he’d been born a Frenchman, he would still have found a place in history as sure as history would have found a place for him.

The world he helped shape between 1940 and 1960 still exists in part today – it’s why he’s such an easy target. He also made some disastrous political gaffes, and military blunders which cost lives and no one is denying these, only calling out the unfounded cliches.

The evidence is there, the facts are known, and they are not some dark secrets waiting to be exposed. The conversation about Churchill’s career, his merits, his failings and his place in history have never stopped. All that has changed is that his symbol as a British icon is now irrevocably wrapped up in the question of what it means to be British.

As Brexit looms, that’s a question which has been and may never be answered completely.

So if Churchill is the villain, who are the political saints?

Alastair Stewart is a freelance writer and journalist. He writes regular features on politics and history with a particular interest in nationalism and the life of Sir Winston Churchill. Read more from Alastair at www.agjstewart.com and follow him on Twitter @agjstewart

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alastair Stewart"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873204.1550150740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873204.1550150740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Churchill's role in the Tonypandy riots of 1910 meant he was a 'villain' rather than a hero (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Churchill's role in the Tonypandy riots of 1910 meant he was a 'villain' rather than a hero (Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873204.1550150740!/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/scottish-independence-top-law-officer-refuses-to-reveal-if-nicola-sturgeon-asked-for-indyref2-advice-1-4873092","id":"1.4873092","articleHeadline": "Scottish independence: Top law officer refuses to reveal if Nicola Sturgeon asked for indyref2 advice","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550150585000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s top law officer has refused to reveal if Nicola Sturgeon has sought his legal advice on holding a second referendum on Scottish independence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873206.1550150579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's top law officer has refused to reveal if Nicola Sturgeon has sought his legal advice on holding a second referendum on Scottish independence."} ,"articleBody": "

Lord Advocate James Wolffe says it would “not be appropriate” even to say whether such advice has been sought in response to Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles.

The MSP has now written to Scotland’s Standards Commissioner calling for an overhaul of parliamentary rules to force the minister to answer such questions.

The refusal has prompted anger because the SNP had been calling for Theresa May to release her legal advice on Brexit.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon: I won’t call a second Scottish independence vote this year

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to set out her plans for a second vote on Scotland’s future in the UK in the coming weeks. The prospect of a “wildcat” vote being held without authority from Westminster - which has control over the constitution - was at the centre of Mr Rumbles inquiries.

The Scottish Government has already refused to answer this and Mr Rumbles sought answers from the Lord Advocate, who is also a minister in the Government.

But he has told Mr Rumbles in a response this week that such advice is “privileged and confidential.”

“There is well-established convention, long pre-dating devolution, that governments do not identify the matters on which they have taken legal advice from their law officers,” the latter states.

“It would not be appropriate for me to disclose whether I have advised or might advise the Government on the matters identified in your letter.”

Mr Rumbles has now written to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee to ask them to consider changes to standing orders to allow MSPs to get answers to simple questions, including making it easier for the Lord Advocate to respond to MSPs.

“The SNP worked alongside Liberal Democrats when we successfully pressed the UK Government to release their Brexit legal advice,” Mr Rumbles said.

“People will wonder why the SNP Government are refusing to put their own independence plans through the same openness test.

“The Scottish Government are going to outrageous lengths to avoid telling the public what they are plotting behind closed doors. Ministers just shuffle excuses back and forward between themselves.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873206.1550150579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873206.1550150579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's top law officer has refused to reveal if Nicola Sturgeon has sought his legal advice on holding a second referendum on Scottish independence.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's top law officer has refused to reveal if Nicola Sturgeon has sought his legal advice on holding a second referendum on Scottish independence.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873206.1550150579!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873091.1550150581!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873091.1550150581!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lord Advocate James Wolffe. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lord Advocate James Wolffe. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873091.1550150581!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ian-blackford-repeats-claim-that-theresa-may-lied-about-brexit-deal-analysis-1-4872975","id":"1.4872975","articleHeadline": "Ian Blackford repeats claim that Theresa May lied about Brexit deal analysis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550092301000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s Westminster leader has repeated his claim that Theresa May lied about analysis of her Brexit deal and suggested she is not “fit for the office of Prime Minister”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872974.1550092297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Blackford was forced to withdraw remarks in the Commons chamber on Tuesday"} ,"articleBody": "

Ian Blackford was forced to withdraw remarks in the Commons chamber on Tuesday after shouting at the Prime Minister that she was a “liar”.

But speaking to journalists following Prime Minister’s Questions, he stood by his comment, saying the government’s own economic analysis of Brexit options made clear that the ‘bespoke’ trade deal sought with the EU could not be modelled yet.

“I think she’s got to take a bit more care as to the statements that she uses in the House of Commons,” Mr Blackford said.

“It’s unbecoming of a Prime Minister to behave in such a manner.

“In fact, I’ll go further than that.

“ I don’t think a Prime Minister that behaves in such a way has the characteristics of a person that is fit for the office of Prime Minister.”

With the UK government repeating that it is ready to leave the EU without a deal, Mr Blackford added: “I would seriously question [the Prime Minister’s] sanity if she thinks that we should be contemplating a no-deal.”

At PMQs, Mrs May sparked fresh anger on the SNP benches by claiming Scottish independence would have meant a ‘no-deal exit’ from the EU.

“He complains about no deal, but of course, it was the Scottish National party who wanted to leave the UK without a plan,” the Prime Minister told Mr Blackford.

“Perhaps we should remind the SNP that independence would have meant leaving the EU with no deal.”

The SNP had an aide bring a copy of the white paper on independence to the Commons chamber, where it was held up by Mr Blackford in a point of order at the end of PMQs.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872974.1550092297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872974.1550092297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Blackford was forced to withdraw remarks in the Commons chamber on Tuesday","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Blackford was forced to withdraw remarks in the Commons chamber on Tuesday","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872974.1550092297!/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/scottish-independence-would-strip-churchill-of-his-britishness-alastair-stewart-1-4872530","id":"1.4872530","articleHeadline": "Scottish independence would strip Churchill of his ‘Britishness’ – Alastair Stewart","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550054343000 ,"articleLead": "

If Scotland left the United Kingdom, it would lose some of its British national heroes as Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and others were boxed in to a smaller political territory, writes Alastair Stewart.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872529.1550054340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alastair Stewart's political hero Winston Churchill is currently a fellow countryman but Scottish independence would change that"} ,"articleBody": "

I’ve been in Spain for five years and I’m actively looking to come back to Edinburgh. To be honest, I count the years by remembering that Scotsman Peter Capaldi was The Doctor when I left and Englishwoman Jodie Whittaker is in the Tardis now.

If you get that reference then there’s powers at play beyond my sci-fi indulgence. Last week I attended a Burns Supper in Almerimar, Spain, which was organised by a Scotsman. It was hosted by a Spanish restaurant and attended by more English than Scots. Everyone had a spectacular time celebrating Scotland’s national poet, and it was a fine evening for all.

That hodgepodge awkwardness of how to do the whole thing felt like a family get together with all the quirks and awkward mismatches that they bring. So when Nicola Sturgeon says “Scotland will be independent in five years” I don’t think of political processes, I think of social breakdowns.

The Scottish Government’s 2014 White Paper on independence promised a “social union” with the rest of the UK and after independence. The “shared language, culture and history” of the UK is a net, they said, which couldn’t just be broken because of changing political events.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland will be independent in five years

Five years later and the argument doesn’t hold. Brexit is splitting family dinner tables and it’s not even happened yet. It’s spectacularly naive to underestimate how political upheaval can negate national social ties that we all take for granted.

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate to get to know Macedonia through my in-laws. As they remember well after the collapse of Yugoslavia, social kinships, historical icons, films, music and even food and drink are usually the first victims of contested constitutional reorderings.

I’m not saying Scotland is on the brink of civil war. But it’s ignorant to think that social sentiments and political ambitions are parallel entities which never meet. Emotional attachments defy elections, oil projections or even referendums and they are a dangerous thing to tinker with.

Sir Winston Churchill is my political hero. But he nearly went from being an admired fellow countryman to just another historical leader from a foreign country.

At the time First Minister Alex Salmond insisted Great Britain would survive Scottish independence because it is a mere “geographical expression” and that “after independence, people in England will still cheer Andy Murray, and people in Scotland will still support the Lions at rugby”.

READ MORE: Scottish independence must be achieved calmly and legally – Joyce McMillan

National intimacy towards who and what we can call our own is the bedrock reason for why we take pride in our actors, our sports and history. It’s also irrevocably tied up with political constructs, and playing with it, or threatening it, can unleash a plethora of untold forces.

What is true of Churchill is as true for Burns or Shakespeare, Bond or Potter. Where does one end and the other begin for a country, can they stop being ‘mine’ overnight because political boundaries have changed?

We must pause to consider those banal notions of Britishness which would silently disappear from the lexicon of Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish nationhood. Churchill, Shakespeare and Burns would be boxed in and taken away from the richness sewn into the tapestry of the United Kingdom.

This, more than anything else, would be a great loss.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alastair Stewart"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872529.1550054340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872529.1550054340!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alastair Stewart's political hero Winston Churchill is currently a fellow countryman but Scottish independence would change that","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alastair Stewart's political hero Winston Churchill is currently a fellow countryman but Scottish independence would change that","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872529.1550054340!/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/richard-leonard-power-must-be-transferred-to-the-people-after-brexit-1-4871580","id":"1.4871580","articleHeadline": "Richard Leonard: Power must be transferred to the people after Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549914357000 ,"articleLead": "

After Brexit, the UK should create a more federal system which locks in devolution but also change the balance of power in the workplace, writes Richard Leonard.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871579.1549914353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The City of London wields too much power and influence at the expense of other parts of the UK (Picture: Steve Finn/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Within the last five years, the people of Scotland have voted in two referendums on matters of huge significance for the future of our country. I believe it is essential that in navigating our way beyond the outcomes, we must plot a course to bring some stability.

In those referendums, I campaigned for Scotland to remain in the UK and for the UK to remain in the EU. But I did not campaign for the status quo. I do think the relationship between the nations of the UK is imbalanced and I do want to see the end of Tory rule from Westminster.

It will come as no surprise that I believe to my core that the best way to get rid of the Tories is to elect a Labour Government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, investing in our communities and our industries again. Despite its obvious challenges, we do have an opportunity after Brexit to build that progressive society. Austerity is not inevitable, the status quo is not inevitable, we write the future ourselves.

The other consequence of Brexit is that it requires us to re-examine where power lies within the UK, and rebalance it so that Scotland becomes more of an equal partner. And we need to be able to discuss and debate these issues in an intelligent and informed way. One of the more frustrating aspects of the debates around independence and Brexit is how narrow they are; ideas for more radical models of how our society could be organised are pushed to the side.

As so often in politics, it is those who hold the most extreme views, and shout the loudest, who dominate the political and media landscape. There are some for whom the answer to every question is independence, just as there were those whose answer to everything was to leave the European Union. The dominance of these voices has made it harder to make actual, serious progress.

But at the heart of each lies a desire to take back control, and that is an impulse I understand. As a democratic socialist, I more than appreciate the drive and necessity to challenge power and authority. But I do not want the Labour Party to take power for its own sake, I want to take power so that we can give it away – to people in our communities. Because after a decade of austerity, our communities do not just need investment, they need more control and they need greater stability.

READ MORE: Brian Monteith: Brexit plan or no Brexit plan, the EU has always been a bully

Whether you voted Yes or No to independence, or Leave or Remain in the EU referendum, it is the right thing to do to ask how we can keep these sides together. It suits some to foster division, and therefore they find it easy to say we should abandon one side or the other. But that is not Labour’s way of doing things, and it is not my approach either. We are talking about neighbours, friends, family members. We have to find ways to unite our communities, not more ways of dividing them.

After all, the real division in our society is not between Scotland and England, it is between those who own the wealth and those who through their hard work create the wealth. That is the real division. Children living in poverty in Dundee are held back in exactly the same way as children living in poverty in Derby.

So we have to redistribute wealth, and power too. There is still a restlessness in Scotland about our place in the UK. The people of Scotland said no to independence in 2014. But, as we discuss the future, that does not mean the only choices open to us are independence or carry on as we are.

After Brexit, powers that were previously held in Europe are going to return to the UK. Powers over the environment, over agriculture, state aid, fishing, public procurement. We need to ensure that when those powers come back from Brussels, that they do not go to London, they come here.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford calls on Scottish Labour MPs to reject May’s Brexit deal

We have had devolution since 1999. There are many in the Tory Government, and in the senior ranks of the civil service too, who seem to have forgotten that.

I wrote in this newspaper in January about how we in Scotland need to recapture that spirit of ambition and hope that marked the establishment of the Scottish Parliament 20 years ago. There are powers we have now that we do not fully utilise.

The restlessness that many people feel here in Scotland exists in parts of England too. There is a genuine sense of grievance that London – perhaps more specifically, the financial City of London – wields too much power and influence, at the expense of other towns and cities.

As we negotiate our path beyond Brexit, we need answers to these questions that do not keep taking us back to the same old arguments and the same old divisions.

I believe that people are looking for real change and real democracy. That means real change in the balance of power where they work and where they live, and not simply the transfer of power from one Parliament, and one set of politicians, to another.

Brexit calls for us to look afresh at the constitutional nature of the UK. A more federal Britain, locking in and strengthening devolution, and redistributing power so that it is not concentrated but dispersed, and so shared and utilised by the people for the people.

To do this, we will be required to think beyond the comfort of traditional thought and speak beyond the refuge of soundbites – not always easy for politicians to do, especially in the age of 24-hour news. But we have to ask and answer the questions about how our society is run and why, about how our political and economic system is run and in whose interests, about how we protect our environment and how we treat each other as human beings.

These are big questions and big challenges, but they are the very fundamental questions and challenges that the Labour Party was established to meet.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Richard Leonard"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4871579.1549914353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871579.1549914353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The City of London wields too much power and influence at the expense of other parts of the UK (Picture: Steve Finn/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The City of London wields too much power and influence at the expense of other parts of the UK (Picture: Steve Finn/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4871579.1549914353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5992040633001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/lecturing-america-msps-react-to-nicola-sturgeon-s-cnn-interview-on-independence-1-4871523","id":"1.4871523","articleHeadline": "‘Lecturing America’: MSPs react to Nicola Sturgeon’s CNN interview on independence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549904347000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has drawn criticism from Scotland’s pro-Union political parties after telling a US broadcaster that the country will be independent from the UK within five years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4860442.1549907801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon made the prediction on CNN."} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister made the prediction during an appearance on CNN’s Christiane Amanpour programme at the end of a week-long tour of the US and Canada.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland will be independent in five years

Asked if she believed Scotland would be applying to the EU as an independent nation in the next three to five years, she replied: “I would love to think so and I think it will.”

POLL: Do you think Scotland will be independent within 5 years

She added: “I’m not going to put a particular timescale on it right now, but in the not too distant future, I think Scotland will be an independent country looking to join the EU as an independent country and looking to take a seat at the United Nations.”

Ms Sturgeon is expected to update MSPs on her plans for a second independence referendum before 29 March, the UK’s official leaving date from the EU.

Her latest remarks were criticised by the Scottish Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who said she should not have been talking about independence during an official trade trip.

Scottish Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said: “Nicola Sturgeon took a full week away from government business to bang the drum for independence, and that’s completely unacceptable.

“The First Minister was supposed to use this dubious trip to promote Scotland’s business and economy. Instead, she spent her time lecturing America about her selfish plans to break up Britain.”

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie added: “The last thing that most people want is turmoil with independence to top off the chaos of Brexit.

“Just imagine what could be achieved if the nationalists were prepared to spend five years working to improve health and education instead.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4860442.1549907801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4860442.1549907801!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon made the prediction on CNN.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon made the prediction on CNN.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4860442.1549907801!/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/nicola-sturgeon-scotland-will-be-independent-in-five-years-1-4871139","id":"1.4871139","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland will be independent in five years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549904167000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has reaffirmed her intention to call another referendum on Scottish independence once the final details of Brexit have been worked out.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871138.1549879071!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon was a guest on the Amanpour & Co current affairs show, which is broadcast on the PBS network"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister used an appearance on a US talk show over the weekend to declare her belief that a majority of Scots would back a Yes vote in a possible IndyRef2 within the next five years.

The timing of another constitutional vote has the subject of intense debate among grassroots SNP members and senior politicians in recent months, with some urging the party leader to stage a plebiscite on the issue this year, while others urge a more cautious approach.

POLL: Do you think Scotland will be independent within 5 years - Readers’ poll

Ms Sturgeon was interviewed by Michel Martin on the CNN current affairs show Amanpour & Company. Asked if she believed that Scotland would be applying to the EU as an independent nation in the next three to five years, she replied: “I would love to think so and I think it will.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to be questioned by children on FMQs: Next Generation

“I’m not going to put a particular timescale on it right now but in the not too distant future, I think Scotland will be an independent country looking to join the EU and looking to take a seat the United Nations.”

READ MORE: Sturgeon urged to ditch indyref2 as Scots-UK trade rises

The First Minister said she was confident more Scots would back independence if a re-run of the 2014 referendum were held as the reality of Brexit became apparent.

“We’re in this position because we’re not independent,” she said. “That democratic deficit, that Scotland faces as being part of the UK, undoubtedly makes many people want to look again at the issue of Scotland becoming an independent country.

“I think there will be another independence referendum. And when that happens, I think Scotland this time will vote to be independent. It will be a way of us protecting our place in Europe and make sure the decisions that influence the direction of our country are taken in Scotland not in London.

“The timing of that is yet to be determined - obviously, there is a lot of concern about the Brexit process. As First Minister, I’ve said that I will set out my view on the timing of another independence referendum in the next few weeks once we see how this Brexit process plays out.”

The SNP leader explained her official visit to the US was in part to remind the world Scotland “remained open for business”.

She explained: “It’s no secret that I’m not aligned politically with the current president of the United States. We disagree on many things. But Scotland and the US have a very strong and long-standing relationship, and that relationship endures regardless of who occupies the office of president or of first minister.

“The timing of my visit is more to do with developments in the UK. I want to make sure the rest of the world knows, not with standing Brexit, Scotland remains open for business. Scotland didn’t vote to leave the EU, that’s something happening to us against our will, but we want to make sure that other countries know that Scotland remains open and welcoming - we want to attract businesses and individuals to come and live and work in our country.”

Scottish Conservatives chief whip Maurice Golden said: “Nicola Sturgeon took a week away from government business to bang the drum for independence, and that’s completely unacceptable.

“The First Minister was supposed to use this dubious trip to promote Scotland’s business and economy.

“Instead, she spent her time lecturing America about her selfish plans to break up Britain.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4871138.1549879071!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871138.1549879071!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon was a guest on the Amanpour & Co current affairs show, which is broadcast on the PBS network","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon was a guest on the Amanpour & Co current affairs show, which is broadcast on the PBS network","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4871138.1549879071!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/do-you-think-scotland-will-be-independent-within-5-years-readers-poll-1-4871349","id":"1.4871349","articleHeadline": "Do you think Scotland will be independent within 5 years - Readers’ poll","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549903253000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon used an appearance on a US talk show over the weekend to declare her belief that a majority of Scots would back a Yes vote in a possible IndyRef2 within the next five years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871348.1549903250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "With Brexit causing problems for so many Remain-voting Scots will the First Minister's prediction come true? Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister was interviewed by Michel Martin on the CNN current affairs show Amanpour & Company. Asked if she believed that Scotland would be applying to the EU as an independent nation in the next three to five years, she replied: “I would love to think so and I think it will.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland will be independent in five years

Ms Sturgeon said she was confident more Scots would back independence if a re-run of the 2014 referendum were held as the reality of Brexit became apparent.

Last month, a survey commissioned by campaigners for a second EU referendum found that 69% of respondents said Brexit would make Scottish independence more likely.

Having previously rejected any suggestion of a second referendum on Scotland’s future, saying “now is not the time” for another vote on independence, Prime Minister Theresa May warned in January that a no-deal Brexit would put the Union at risk, as she tries to salvage her Brexit deal.

Do you agree with Ms Sturgeon? Do you think Scotland will be independent within five years? Take part in our readers’ poll above to have your say.



" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4871348.1549903250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871348.1549903250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "With Brexit causing problems for so many Remain-voting Scots will the First Minister's prediction come true? Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "With Brexit causing problems for so many Remain-voting Scots will the First Minister's prediction come true? Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4871348.1549903250!/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/lesley-riddoch-what-bbc-scotland-can-learn-from-fiona-bruce-and-question-time-1-4871081","id":"1.4871081","articleHeadline": "Lesley Riddoch: What BBC Scotland can learn from Fiona Bruce and Question Time","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549880008000 ,"articleLead": "

BBC Scotland needs to dump, not adapt, the tired format that dogs the UK’s flagship politics show, says Lesley Riddoch

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871117.1549880003!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fiona Bruce was revealed as the new presenter of the long-running Question Time series last year"} ,"articleBody": "

Should BBC Scotland be cursing Question Time for muddying the broadcasting waters before its channel launch on 24 February – or should it be learning some big lessons?

The network flagship current affair programme got pelters last week after a former UKIP candidate appeared on the show for a fourth time – apparently breaking the programme’s own rules. Billy Mitchell, a flute band member who amassed 34 votes when standing for UKIP locally in 2013, appeared previously in Kilmarnock and twice in Stirling, managing to ask a question hostile to the SNP each time.

Amazingly, he then managed a fourth appearance in Motherwell and once again was picked to ask a question accusing the SNP of hypocrisy for offering no ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ option during the Scottish independence referendum. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t that robust rant that grabbed the headlines.

Instead of featuring his anti SNP question, most papers focused instead on the frequency of Mitchell’s appearance, with the Sun observing it was “a feat so unlikely that bookies would give odds of several thousand to one against it happening.”

That’s very significant.

Normally the mainstream media doesn’t register the complaints about bias of the SNP or wider Yes movement. But Mitchell’s presence as a “plant” was so blatant and the online outcry so precise (including stills from all his previous outings) that no-one could ignore the claim. More problematic for Question Time - no-one wanted to.

The stark truth is that the flagship programme of the British Broadcasting Corporation is now less popular amongst tabloid and broadsheet papers, north and south of the border, than a party that wants to leave Britain. That’s quite a feat and doesn’t represent any volte-face over independence by the mainstream media. Rather the press has marked Question Time out as the Weakest Link in the BBC’s current affairs offering.

The rot set in quickly after the replacement of David Dimbleby by Fiona Bruce. In episode two, the “neutral” presenter wellied into guest Diane Abbott about Labour’s parlous state in the polls even though the party was level pegging with the Tories. Aunty was then forced to admit Fiona Bruce did refer to Abbott’s ‘personal and political relationships’ in the pre-show warm-up but insisted the presenter didn’t suggest the shadow home secretary got a frontbench role because of her previous closeness to Jeremy Corbyn.

Astonishingly, Question Time seems to have got away with that highly unsatisfactory answer… until Motherwell.

Scottish eyebrows were already raised at the unionist-heavy composition of the panel; Michael Forsyth of the Conservatives, Labour’s Anneliese Dodds, the SNP’s Fiona Hyslop, fashion model Eunice Olumide and journalist Hugo Rifkind.

One question for the SNP is why they let a Cabinet Secretary take part in such a nakedly skewed panel.

My guess is that producers insisted Brexit not independence would be the main subject and thus the balance-demanding political faultline of the night. But independence was bound to come up and although Olumide is apparently a Yes voter– she tweeted later “Wish I had got the chance to say more about Scotland and independence” - Fiona Hyslop found herself isolated and outnumbered when Billy Mitchell was encouraged to hold forth.

Olumide was excellent on the question of Liam Neeson and doubtless that’s why she was asked on. But independence needed another sharp-elbowed political operator ready to butt in without permission, because Question Time is a daunting arena in which only politicians and seasoned perfomers really thrive.

Not my opinion but that of 18 year-old Jude Wilkinson who was an audience member some weeks earlier in Winchester;

“I did not speak up to disagree because speaking out is hard in an environment where unrepresentative audiences thunder applause for absurd arguments.

The rush to insert adrenaline into rational debate is destructive to democracy. It is as though debate on matters of national policy is being done in a playground; shout the loudest and you will win the argument. It felt utterly intimidating, stepping into the lion’s den.”

And in Motherwell it was a highly unrepresentative lion’s den. Leaving the issue of independence to one side, North Lanarkshire like every other council area in Scotland backed Remain (61.7 per cent in Motherwell). Yet the programme was full of noisy Leave voters.

This determination to impose a UK balance on each local audience is Question Time’s biggest problem.

Its editors don’t recognise the importance of place (local issues are usually vetoed) which means they don’t recognise the reality of local opinion, which means they resort to the tawdry business of bussing in part of the audience almost every week to ensure “balance”.

This is a practice the new weekly Scottish Question Time programme should not adopt. If it is broadcasting almost every week, then a genuinely Yes-leaning venue like Dundee can be balanced by visiting a genuinely No-leaning venue like Kelso the following week, achieving neutrality over time and – far more importantly – achieving credibility every week.

If BBC Scotland’s new panel programme encourages the full diversity of Scotland to be properly heard and explores domestic and international issues in addition to Brexit and independence it’ll be a dead-cert winner. But that now depends entirely on BBC Scotland dumping not tartanising the present, tired UK format. Thanks to Question Time’s recent string of failures on the neutrality front, authenticity is now far more important for the new BBC Scotland programme than aping Aunty to produce pointless screaming matches with imported bams or a dreary sameness. It would also be life-enhancing and politically important if BBC Scotland axed the UK ban on local places raising their own local issues.

Worryingly though, it doesn’t look as if this new direction is likely to happen. According to respected health journalist Pennie Taylor, serial audience member Billy Mitchell was in the audience for a pilot episode of the new Question Time, filmed at Edinburgh’s Napier University last week.

If true, that is unbelievable and BBC Scotland should admit its mistake. Otherwise the press and public will suspect the new channel is seeking notoriety, sensationalism and confrontation in a desperatye attempot to attract younger viewers. Not good for an important new programme on a publicly-funded new channel.

Far better to go where UK Question Time fears to tread, and bring panel discussions into the modern world, occupied by intelligent Scots in real places with real and diverse political outlooks.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4871117.1549880003!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4871117.1549880003!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fiona Bruce was revealed as the new presenter of the long-running Question Time series last year","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fiona Bruce was revealed as the new presenter of the long-running Question Time series last year","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4871117.1549880003!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5790574618001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-labour-exit-proves-just-how-tribal-we-ve-become-1-4870869","id":"1.4870869","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Labour-exit proves just how tribal we’ve become","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549755250000 ,"articleLead": "

Shortly after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, I sat in a restaurant in London with an English pal talking about – of course – the independence referendum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4870868.1549735690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in Coventry. His ambivalence over Brexit has appalled many within his party. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

He’d had no vote in the poll but he’d paid close attention to the campaign, often feeling anxious about the result. As someone with a strong sense of Britishness and a deep love for Scotland, he’d dreaded the possibility of a Yes victory. The break-up of the United Kingdom would have robbed him of something that mattered to him.

But this guy is no Union Flag waving Brit. His hope that the UK would endure was real but he was angry that he had to think about it at all. In his view – and, it had recently transpired, in the view of a majority of Scots – independence was not a priority.

The real issues facing the UK could not, he said, be properly addressed by constitutional change. And he was angry that the referendum had forced him to pick a side in a simplistic, binary argument. The independence question had left him with no option but to choose a tribe and he found that difficult.

Less than two years later, that sense of tribalism had spread throughout England and Wales (Northern Ireland’s issues with tribalism were, of course, established long ago).

The referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union created two new tribes. And, just as had been the case in Scotland, those in favour of the status quo were angry that they’d had to think about the question at all.

To those who thirst for constitutional upheaval, it is a matter of the utmost importance. It is about the sort of country they imagine but it is also about who they are. It is about their identities and, thus, any attack on the proposition is an attack on them.

But we are all tribal now, whether we like it or not. Politicians from across the political spectrum may, on occasion, talk about the need to focus on the domestic political agenda, but nobody can seriously believe, surely, that it is – or will soon be – possible for them to move away from the arguments created by referendums. This is as true in Scotland, where the nationalists lost, as it is in the rest of the UK, where the nationalists won.

The Labour Party was – on paper, at least – firmly on the Remain side of the argument during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. No senior party MP or MSP with any credibility was in the tribe that wanted to break away from the EU.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may have spent the majority of his political career opposed to the EU, but even he – unconvincingly, it must be noted – said he was a Remainer.

Since 2016’s narrow referendum victory for the Leave campaign, Labour has pandered to members of the tribe that helped the Eurosceptics win. Many traditional Labour voters, particularly in the north of England, voted Leave, and the party leadership has preferred, by and large, not to risk losing their support in future elections by arguing they were wrong on the European question. And, beyond that, is the reality that – despite his claim to be a Remainer – Corbyn remains deeply sceptical about the EU.

A poll made public last week says that Labour is now in the wrong tribe.

The TSSA transport union leaked a report – based on a survey of 5,125 voters – which shows that the official opposition stands to lose votes in every part of the UK if it fails to take an anti-Brexit position.

The poll – which was sent to members of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group, a number of Commons frontbenchers including shadow chancellor John McDonnell, and the party in Scotland – suggests that Labour could lose an additional 45 seats in a snap election if it continues to support any form of Brexit.

The subject of EU membership, states the report, disproportionately energises Labour Remain voters. These are people who – like my chum in London – didn’t want a constitutional battle. But now they are more tribal than those who did.

Should Labour continue in its role as a Brexit enabler, it stands to lose, in particular, the support of those under 35. This, according to the report, would make the impact of Brexit support comparable to that felt by the Liberal Democrats over its involvement with the Tories in the UK coalition government from 2010-15. Failure to oppose Brexit will, suggests the report, be more damaging to the Labour Party’s electoral prospects than the Iraq war.

And not only has Brexit created a large and angry cabal of Labour voters who believe the party’s handling of it to be a mistake, it has – in Scotland – encouraged some to consider shifting their allegiances. The poll for the TSSA shows that a Brexit-enabling Labour Party would lose five of its seven MPs in a snap election. These voters would not, I daresay, go to the Tories, Rather, they would find a new home in the SNP tribe.

Scottish Labour has been desperately weak under the leadership of Richard Leonard. After years during which it fought allegations that it was little more than a branch office of UK Labour, the party in Scotland is exposed as just that. Leonard – slavishly loyal to Corbyn – has made no attempt to give his party a uniquely Scottish identity. He prefers to adhere to the creed of the Corbyn tribe, even when it is clear that Scottish voters respond to a message – whether from the SNP or Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories – that says politicians recognise their unique priorities.

It seems a very long time since politics was dominated by big questions across a range of policy areas. Now, it’s about which tribe we belong to. We may not like this but we have no choice.

Splits in the Tory Party over Europe, the threat of electoral losses for Labour if it doesn’t change its Brexit position, and the SNP in an electoral stand-off with the majority of Scots, surely show the tribalism that now defines our debate is a barrier to progress on the issues – poverty, unemployment, a growing housing crisis – that should be the priority of all who would lead us.

If you disagree, I reckon you’re in the wrong tribe.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4870868.1549735690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4870868.1549735690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in Coventry. His ambivalence over Brexit has appalled many within his party. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech in Coventry. His ambivalence over Brexit has appalled many within his party. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4870868.1549735690!/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-nicola-sturgeon-was-wrong-to-push-independence-in-america-pamela-nash-1-4869784","id":"1.4869784","articleHeadline": "Why Nicola Sturgeon was wrong to push independence in America – Pamela Nash","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549623681000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon should travel overseas to promote Scotland – but not the cause of independence, writes Pamela Nash.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses an audience on 'Scotland, Brexit and the Future' as part of Georgetown's Institute for Women, Peace and Security's Women World Leaders Week."} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland ‘The Brand’ is a global success story. Our world-renowned food and drink, and our manufacturing excellence, are hugely successful exports that help grow our economy.

The Scottish Government is right to promote Scotland around the world, and that means that ministers must also – from time to time – travel abroad to do so. Similar trade delegations travel from the other nations and regions of the UK to promote their own local companies.

Yes, it costs public money for flights and accommodation, but everyone can recognise that the resulting trade deals can, in turn, massively boost our public finances.

Today, at First Minister’s Questions, SNP Deputy First Minister John Swinney stood in for Nicola Sturgeon because she is on a trip to North America.

The USA is Scotland’s top export destination country with an estimated £5.5 billion of exports from Scotland in 2017, so this is clearly an important market for Scottish companies.

Ms Sturgeon’s itinerary includes “trade and culture engagements in Washington DC, New York, New Jersey, Ottawa and Toronto” during the five-day visit.

So far, so good.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon plays down prospect of early Scottish independence vote

But the First Minister – on a trip entirely funded from the public purse to represent the whole of Scotland – also delivered a speech at Georgetown University.

It was this event which attracted the most media attention, and the SNP carried her full speech on its party website.

In that speech, Ms Sturgeon repeatedly highlighted her support for independence.

She also talked about breaking up the UK on PBS’s flagship NewsHour current affairs TV programme.

It’s clear that the First Minister used this trip not only to promote Scotland, but to promote her party’s own narrow-minded and divisive pursuit of independence. That’s a vision which is not supported by the majority of the people she is supposed to represent.

It’s also clear that it would create new trade barriers that threaten economic growth.

Ms Sturgeon has blurred the lines between the interests of Scotland and the interests of her party – a bad habit of the SNP.

It’s time for the First Minister to do her job and represent all the people of Scotland and to focus on growing our economy.

The best shot in the arm for our financial future would be for the threat of an unnecessary and unwanted second independence referendum to be taken off the table.

Pamela Nash is chief executive of Scotland in Union

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Pamela Nash"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses an audience on 'Scotland, Brexit and the Future' as part of Georgetown's Institute for Women, Peace and Security's Women World Leaders Week.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses an audience on 'Scotland, Brexit and the Future' as part of Georgetown's Institute for Women, Peace and Security's Women World Leaders Week.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5847978315001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/kenny-macaskill-here-s-why-scotland-should-have-a-parking-tax-1-4868905","id":"1.4868905","articleHeadline": "Kenny MacAskill: Here’s why Scotland should have a parking tax","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549537331000 ,"articleLead": "

ScotRail once again makes the headlines over standards of service and the Tories howl outrage about a workplace parking levy. But it’s worth remembering that the two issues are linked. To paraphrase a populist saying from centuries gone by, there can be no transportation without taxation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4868904.1549537327!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BR's high-speed, tilting Advanced Passenger Train reached 162mph but was beset by problems (Picture: PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

Public transport costs money and keeping fares down and improving quality of service requires investment, not just shouting at the conductor, never mind the operator.

Given the pressures on the public purse, it’s hard to see which areas of health, education or justice you’re going to cut to fund it, so new methods of revenue raising are required.

Indeed, rather than volunteering any savings, the Tories – without any sense of shame – have been calling for ever more public expenditure whether on hospital parking or other public services.

Of course, these are the self-same Tories who squeal about a “poll tax on wheels” with no sense of irony. Once they insisted “poll tax” was a pejorative term and it was really called the “community charge”, even though it was regressive in the extreme.

But the workplace parking levy debate mirrors that of the poll tax in terms of whether the solution is individual or collective.

Is it about the rights of the private motorist or provision for the collective good? Decades ago, some will have argued if you don’t have kids, why pay for education and if you are fit and healthy, just you thank your lucky stars you don’t need to pay for care and welfare.

But there are some public services – and it’s not just public transport – that need paid for – it’s not whether, but how you do it. And it’s better and more economical to do it collectively, rather than individually.

There are issues with ScotRail, that’s for sure. It’s no comfort to a commuter late for work or delayed in getting home to be told that actually they’re quite good in comparison to operators down south. Anyone unlucky enough to travel in the south of England will realise how relatively reliable and uncrowded our trains actually are. And travelling in the north of England helps you realise how old and dilapidated commuter trains can really be.

READ MORE: ScotRail cuts more than 40 trains a day over winter due to staff shortages

I understand the frustrations and anger as I’ve been a commuter. It’s a long time ago now, and in the supposedly halcyon days of British Rail, but being stuck outside Croy when it was late, I was tired and up early next morning wasn’t pleasant, then as now.

But privatisation wasn’t a solution, then no more than recently. The service didn’t improve and Network Rail has had to come back to the public sector.

However, the Tories didn’t seem to learn the lesson. The state-owned East Coast Main Line, which took over the service when the private operator walked away, was forcibly reprivatised with Virgin Trains East Coast taking over, only to cease operating last year and hand the services back to another state-owned firm London North Eastern Railway.

Now, despite my occasional difficulties with BR, I was still sympathetic to them. My uncle was a lifelong railway employee and loyal to the service until his dying days. I very much doubt that exists now with individual operators. No headstone will bear the words “lifelong Virgin driver”.

I’ve also expressed support for bringing railways back into state ownership, after all the whole logic of arguing that private is more efficient than public is lost when state operators from other lands take charge. But, it’s neither a priority, nor the solution. I’m sympathetic to taking the ScotRail franchise back in due course but renationalising now, at a cost, would be nuts and the service wouldn’t be improved anyway without additional cash. I disagree vehemently with the former Labour Transport Minister Tom Harris on both independence and Brexit, but on railways he knows his stuff.

READ MORE: Abellio warned it could be stripped of ScotRail contract

Besides, the best argument I’ve heard against immediate renationalisation, either here or south of the border, is that it’s another middle-class subsidy. Though a very sweeping assumption, poorer people tend to use buses whilst the wealthier take the train. Why it’s pursued with such vigour by Jeremy Corbyn when there are foodbanks to eradicate and an economy to boost beats me.

And the argument that the German or Dutch railways are better because they’re publicly owned isn’t sustained by the evidence. It’s not state operation but better funding that delivers the enhanced quality of service. After all, Japanese railways have been privatised but the service is still outstanding.

For in public transport, as in all public and private services, you get what you pay for. The European or even Japanese services that hard-pressed commuters long for are heavily funded or supported. If we want to emulate them it’s more cash, not a change of livery and operator that’s needed.

Which brings us back to how it’s to be paid for when there just isn’t enough cash to go around. The Tories have already complained about the level of tax so they won’t want that raised, so new taxes it will have to be. That’s why workplace parking levies are needed, as is congestion charging. Money is needed from new sources which should be hypothecated for public transport.

As with other public services, we can achieve so much more collectively than by paying individually. Besides, the pressing need for action on global warming necessitates it and electric cars are both a long way off and no solution to other downsides of mass car ownership, such as congestion or the loss of civic space.

Public transport needs improved and it will neither be quick nor easy. In hard times, taxes can’t be too high and we’re still failing to prioritise public transport in other aspects of society, especially planning. Building housing estates and shopping centres where the car isn’t just a luxury but a necessity has to cease.

But, if better bus services, never mind trains, are wanted and the public transport we admire elsewhere is to be emulated, then as well as taxing company BMWs, we need to tax their drivers’ free parking space.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kenny MacAskill"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4868904.1549537327!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4868904.1549537327!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BR's high-speed, tilting Advanced Passenger Train reached 162mph but was beset by problems (Picture: PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BR's high-speed, tilting Advanced Passenger Train reached 162mph but was beset by problems (Picture: PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4868904.1549537327!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5999132223001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-should-be-reminded-of-david-cameron-when-pushing-for-scottish-independence-vote-1-4869284","id":"1.4869284","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon ‘should be reminded of David Cameron’ when pushing for Scottish independence vote","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549534729000 ,"articleLead": "

The country’s leading pollster has warned Nicola Sturgeon she risks following a political path set by David Cameron if she pursues a refrerendum she presumes won’t happen.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses an audience on 'Scotland, Brexit and the Future' as part of Georgetown's Institute for Women, Peace and Security's Women World Leaders Week."} ,"articleBody": "

Professor Sir John Curtice said pushing for IndyRef2 could backfire on the SNP leader in similar fashion to when ex-PM Cameron called for a vote on the UK’s place in Europe.

The First Minister should instead wait out the Brexit process before deciding whether or not to back a second vote on independence, the Strathclyde University academic said.

Cameron resigned the morning after the Brexit vote in 2016. Many senior Conservatives, including George Osborne, had warned the prime minister of the risks of putting the UK’s EU membership to a vote.

“I guess somebody should remind her that David Cameron called for a referendum he presumed wouldn’t happen and that didn’t work,” Sir John told the Scottish Sun.

“It makes every sense to hang on until we know what the immediate outcome of the Brexit process is going to be.”

The First Minister has faced growing pressure from SNP members to set a date for IndyRef2 in the wake of the growing constitutional crisis surrounding Brexit.

But a recent Panelbase survey found 52 per cent of Scots did not want another independence referendum “in the next few years”.

Sir John continued: “There is a serious chance of another hung parliament and a pretty good chance that the SNP could hold on to what it’s got.

“They might find themselves in the same position the DUP are in now. If that happens, IndyRef2 is on.

“If May doesn’t survive, then the game may change very dramatically which is a good reason for not saying anything.

“The reason Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to do it now is that the polls haven’t shifted and, secondly, Brexit is a divisive issue within the SNP.

“They have increased support amongst Remainers but lost support amongst Leavers. The crucial point is it’s not exactly obvious that the SNP and nationalist movement have readied themselves for a referendum that’s going to be called in the immediate future.”

Sir John told The Scotsman last month that recent polls on the issue indicated that Scots ­continue to be divided at around 45 per cent in favour of separation and 55 per cent wanting to remain in the UK – a level unchanged since the result of the independence referendum in September 2014.

In January, Ms Sturgeon issued a rallying cry to supporters to “get out there and make the case” for Scottish independence, and promised to set out a timetable for a second referendum in a “matter of weeks”.

Angus MacNeil, one of the party’s longest-serving MPs, used an appearance on Alex Salmond’s RT chat show to claim “the Scottish people have waited long enough”, while former SNP MP George Kerevan said the First Minster “should be getting on with” another vote.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses an audience on 'Scotland, Brexit and the Future' as part of Georgetown's Institute for Women, Peace and Security's Women World Leaders Week.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addresses an audience on 'Scotland, Brexit and the Future' as part of Georgetown's Institute for Women, Peace and Security's Women World Leaders Week.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4869283.1549558359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5846476683001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/main-players/nicola-sturgeon-recognised-by-un-for-advancing-gender-equality-1-4869052","id":"1.4869052","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon recognised by UN for advancing gender equality","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549474992000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has been recognised by the United Nations for her work in advancing gender equality.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869051.1549474988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

On a visit to North America, the First Minister met with the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in New York today.

An announcement was made during the meeting that Ms Sturgeon has been appointed by UN Women as the first global advocate for the UN’s #HeForShe campaign.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon plays down prospect of early Scottish independence vote

Ms Sturgeon indicated the Scottish Government had signed up to the campaign, which engages men and boys as advocates for equality.

The First Minister also announced a new pilot project to reduce rates of early and child marriage in rural areas of Malawi as part of a further Scottish Government partnership with UN Women.

Funding of £113,000 was confirmed for the UN Women Malawi project ‘WeLearn – A Virtual Skills School Pilot’, which aims to empower young women and girls with information, skills and support networks to reduce social and economic isolation.

“Progressing gender equality supports a basic human right and will help people flourish and reach their full potential, which will ultimately create a wealthier and fairer society,” the First Minister said.

“Gender equality and a commitment to education are fundamental shared values. I want to ensure Scotland is a good global citizen, supporting the UN’s Goals both at home and in our partner countries, including Malawi.

“Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, mostly affecting girls with less education and in rural areas. The Scottish Government will do everything we can to tackle the injustices and hardships faced by many young girls and women around the globe.

“It is vital we continue to make progress with gender equality. I am honoured to have been asked to be their first Global Advocate.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lewis McKenzie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4869051.1549474988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869051.1549474988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4869051.1549474988!/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/main-players/nicola-sturgeon-plays-down-prospect-of-early-scottish-independence-vote-1-4868364","id":"1.4868364","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon plays down prospect of early Scottish independence vote","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549463678000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has appeared to play down the prospect of another independence referendum in the near future by saying it should only take place after “some conclusion” has been reached in the Brexit process.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon spekaing at Georgetown University on Monday. Picture: Scottish Government"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP leader was asked about the timing of a second independence referendum during an interview with US broadcaster PBS yesterday.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Holyrood has seen Scotland diverge from the UK
Ms Sturgeon said: “I think we have to follow the process that is currently under way to reach some conclusion.

“What that conclusion will be remains to be seen – and then take a decision based on a calm consideration of what’s in Scotland’s best interests.

“And that’s what I would do. So I’m not going to say right now what I think the best timing would be.”

The First Minister has pledged to update Scots on her plans for a second referendum, including the proposed timetable, in the coming weeks and before Brexit happens on 29 March.

But she made it clear the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU meant it would be wrong to rush into a second vote on Scotland’s future in the UK.

“Clearly, if people in Scotland are being asked, given the opportunity to look again at the independence question, they have a right to have as much information as possible about what, if Scotland chooses to be independent, what our relationships will be with the rest of the UK and with Europe,” she said.

“And some of the answers to those questions inevitably depend on the Brexit outcome to some extent. And, therefore, I think it’s in the interest of allowing an informed decision to be taken about independence that we allow some of that clarity to emerge.

“Brexit is a good example of what happens when people take, in some respects, an uninformed decision about a big change. And when people, as I believe they will in due course, opt for Scotland
to be an independent country, that should be on the basis of a genuinely informed decision about implications and consequences.”

Senior MPs Angus MacNeil
and Joanna Cherry have been among those pushing for an early second referendum during the meltdown at Westminster after MPs rejected the UK Government’s withdrawal deal, leaving a “no-deal” departure looking increasingly likely.

But former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson called at the weekend for a new case for independence to be devised before another referendum is staged.

During her visit to North America yesterday, Ms Sturgeon also signed a joint agreement with the governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy to tackle climate change. It follows the signing of a climate change agreement between Ms Sturgeon and governor of California Jerry Brown on a previous visit to the US in 2017.

The First Minister said: “We all have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions and increase our electricity from renewable sources.

“Climate change is a global problem and agreements like these, working in partnership with like-minded administrations, will help us tackle the harmful effects it has on the planet. I look forward to working with New Jersey as we work towards our shared ambitions.”

New Jersey has developed an offshore wind initiative and has a goal of 3,500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

Mr Murphy said: “As New Jersey progresses on the path to 100 per cent clean energy, we are grateful to partner with Scotland to tackle the issue of climate change head on. Scotland has a world-class offshore wind industry and we are looking forward to learning from them as we establish offshore wind farms in our state.”

The agreement commits Scotland and New Jersey to sharing experience and best practices on tackling climate change; working with like-minded countries, states and regions to increase ambition
 on climate change, and promoting business and economic opportunities created by the transition to a low-
carbon economy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon spekaing at Georgetown University on Monday. Picture: Scottish Government","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon spekaing at Georgetown University on Monday. Picture: Scottish Government","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5838151705001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/nicola-sturgeon-signs-climate-change-agreement-with-new-jersey-governor-1-4868495","id":"1.4868495","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon signs climate change agreement with New Jersey governor","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549448106000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has signed a joint agreement with the governor of New Jersey to tackle climate change.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4868494.1549448103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in the US this week. Picture: Stefan Rousseau WPA - Pool/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister, on a visit to North America, announced the deal at a meeting with Phil Murphy on Tuesday.

It follows the signing of a climate change agreement between Ms Sturgeon and governor of California Jerry Brown on a previous visit to the US in 2017.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Holyrood has seen Scotland diverge from the UK

The First Minister said: “We all have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions and increase our electricity from renewable sources.

“Climate change is a global problem and agreements like these, working in partnership with like-minded administrations, will help us tackle the harmful effects it has on the planet.

“I look forward to working with New Jersey as we work towards our shared ambitions.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon plays down prospect of early Scottish independence vote

New Jersey has developed an offshore wind initiative and has established a goal of 3,500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

Mr Murphy said: “As New Jersey progresses on the path to 100% clean energy, we are grateful to partner with Scotland to tackle the issue of climate change head on.

“Scotland has a world-class offshore wind industry and we are looking forward to learning from them as we establish offshore wind farms in our state.”

The agreement commits Scotland and New Jersey to sharing experience and best practices on tackling climate change; working with like-minded countries, states and regions to increase ambition on climate change, and promoting business and economic opportunities created by the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Meanwhile, the First Minister has announced the appointment of Barry Logue as the new renewables specialist for the east coast of North America, which Opportunity North East and Scottish Development International are co-funding.

The new role focuses on building connections for Scotland in the renewables sector in North America, identifying commercial opportunities in the supply chain and supporting Scottish companies to compete and win business in this emerging market.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4868494.1549448103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4868494.1549448103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in the US this week. Picture: Stefan Rousseau WPA - Pool/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in the US this week. Picture: Stefan Rousseau WPA - Pool/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4868494.1549448103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5644482138001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/governments-endured-tense-relationship-during-independence-referendum-1-4868107","id":"1.4868107","articleHeadline": "Governments endured ‘tense’ relationship during independence referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549376923000 ,"articleLead": "

Relations between senior members of the Scottish and UK Government “could not have been more tense” at times during the 2014 independence referendum, the former head of the civil service in Scotland has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4868106.1549382894!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Prime Minister David Cameron shakes hands with Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Sir Peter Housden was giving evidence to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee on the relationship between the two governments.

He was Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government between 2010 to 2015.

Committee member John Lamont asked him: “Thinking back to 2014 and the referendum, is it fair to say that relations between the two governments were quite tense?”

Sir Peter replied: “Well, interestingly, yes and no. At senior level they could not have been more tense on occasions but nevertheless there were important channels of communication that were being held open.

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon: Holyrood has seen SCotland diverge from the UK

“I saw it as my responsibility, with officials in the UK Government, to keep those channels open.

“This is a lot about how senior people conduct themselves in these sort of spaces and remember their broader commitment to civil service principles.

“I felt that was very well adhered to on both sides of the equation.”

He added: “There were occasions when I would absent myself from conversations around the Permanent Secretaries’ table in order not to embarrass and to allow a full discussion of the UK Government interests, and all of that worked in a way that many people outside Government and Parliament couldn’t understand, but it did.

“For me it worked well and contributed to the outcome, we were able to keep those relationships going.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4868106.1549382894!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4868106.1549382894!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Prime Minister David Cameron shakes hands with Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Prime Minister David Cameron shakes hands with Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4868106.1549382894!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5992855746001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-real-and-growing-risk-of-no-deal-brexit-1-4867781","id":"1.4867781","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: Real and growing risk of no-deal Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549361158000 ,"articleLead": "

There is a “real and growing risk” that the UK will leave the EU with no deal in less than two months’ time, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon spekaing at Georgetown University on Monday. Picture: Scottish Government"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland’s First Minister said the UK should acknowledge that the UK simply is “not remotely prepared” to leave the EU in 53 days’ time.

Giving a speech at Georgetown University in the US, she again called for a second Brexit referendum.

She also addressed Scottish independence, arguing that the “confusion and uncertainty of Brexit” made it clear that Scotland’s national interests are not being served by a Westminster system which too often treats Scotland as an “afterthought”.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: UK ‘not remotely prepared’ for Brexit

Addressing an audience at Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, Ms Sturgeon said that the UK Government is trying to renegotiate the EU Withdrawal agreement “with the clock ticking” and despite the EU saying it will not accept such a renegotiation.

She said: “As a result of that, there is a real and growing risk that the UK will leave the EU in 53 days’ time without any deal in place.

“And that would be hugely damaging - far more so, dare I say it, than the Government shutdown you’ve just had here in the United States. In fact, some of the contingencies being considered - if we leave the EU without a deal - are genuinely astonishing.”

She added: “First, the UK Government should confirm that it will do absolutely everything to avoid the UK leaving with no deal. It should make clear it’s not prepared for the UK to leave the EU with no deal.

“And as part of that, it should acknowledge that the UK simply is not remotely prepared to leave the EU in 53 days’ time. That’s been obvious for a while now. So the UK Government should ask the EU to agree to put back the planned date for Brexit.

“The request for an extension of course must be accompanied by an achievable plan.”

She suggested that the UK Government could think again on plans to leave the single market and customs union but added that a “better option is to hold a further referendum on EU membership”.

Ms Sturgeon also warned that without free movement of people - something Theresa May has repeatedly ruled out retaining when the UK leaves the EU - there is a risk Scotland’s working population will go into decline, with this bringing with it “severe economic and social consequences”.

The First Minister said that Brexit is also relevant to the debate on Scottish independence.

She said: “I as First Minister have said I will outline my thoughts on the timing of another independence referendum in the next few weeks - once the terms of Brexit have become clearer.

“But, amid the confusion and uncertainty of Brexit, one thing I think is clearer than ever. Scotland’s national interests are not being served by a Westminster system which too often treats Scotland as an afterthought, or too often sees our interests as not being material.

“In my view, they can only properly be served by becoming an independent country. But an independent country that then seeks to play its part in an interconnected world.

“And that is a vision that I think more and more people in Scotland, in the wake of the Brexit experience, find very attractive.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Nicola Sturgeon needs to stop using Brexit as an excuse to pursue her unwanted independence agenda.

“Rather than constantly seeking division and constitutional upheaval, she needs to work with the UK Government to avoid a damaging no-deal. That is what people and business in Scotland expect.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon spekaing at Georgetown University on Monday. Picture: Scottish Government","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon spekaing at Georgetown University on Monday. Picture: Scottish Government","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4867780.1549388924!/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/nicola-sturgeon-uk-not-remotely-prepared-for-brexit-1-4866948","id":"1.4866948","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: UK ‘not remotely prepared’ for Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549266168000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK is “not remotely prepared” for Brexit and the process must be delayed, Nicola Sturgeon will warn in a keynote speech in the US today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866978.1549307112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking to the media at 10 Downing Street after talks over Brexit with Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister will step up calls for a second referendum with just 53 days left until the UK is due to formally leave the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May insisted yesterday that Brexit will happen “on time” as she prepared to return to Brussels seeking changes to the Irish backstop, a sticking point of her EU Withdrawal Deal which has been rejected by the Commons.

But she faced a warning from the Irish deputy prime minister that “there are no credible alternative arrangements” to the proposal.

She was also stung by the announcement that Japanese car giant Nissan has axed plans to make its X-Trail 4x4 vehicle in Sunderland, citing several reasons including Brexit uncertainty.

Ms Sturgeon will launch a broadside at the turmoil engulfing Westminster over Brexit and insist that Scotland’s interests have been treated as an “afterthought” in a speech in Washington, DC today.

“The UK is not remotely prepared to leave the EU in 53 days’ time,” Ms Sturgeon will say. “The UK government should finally recognise that, and it should ask the EU to agree to put back the planned date for Brexit.”

Such a request would have to be backed up by an “achievable plan”, with Ms Sturgeon suggesting the UK government could reconsider plans to leave the single market and customs union. She will tell her audience at Georgetown University that a “better option is to hold a further referendum on EU membership”.

“The Scottish Government’s view is that this issue should be put back to the people,” the First Minister will say on the first day of a trade mission to the US and Canada.

“That no Scottish Parliament, of any political composition, would approach Brexit in the way that the UK government has helps to explain why Brexit is also relevant to the debate on Scottish independence.

“In the independence referendum in 2014, voters in Scotland were repeatedly told that if we became independent, we would have to leave the European Union. Voting to stay in the UK was portrayed as the way to protect our EU membership. That in itself raises the question of whether decisions about Scotland should continue to be taken at Westminster or whether it would be better if they were taken in Scotland. And now the ongoing chaos at Westminster and the way Scotland’s interests have been consistently ignored makes that question even more relevant.

“So I have said I will outline my thoughts on the timing of a possible independence referendum in the next few weeks, once the terms of Brexit are clearer. But, amid the chaos, confusion and uncertainty of Brexit, one thing is clearer than ever. Namely, that Scotland’s vital national interests are not properly served by relying on the Westminster system which treats Scotland as an afterthought, and that those interests can only properly be served by being an independent country.”

But writing in a weekend newspaper article, Mrs May insisted the departure date will not change and that she would “deliver Brexit on time”.

The EU Withdrawal Agreement she struck with Brussels was rejected by the Commons over the Irish backstop provision which is aimed at keeping the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic open after Brexit.

She said: “When I return to Brussels … I will be armed with a fresh mandate, new ideas and a renewed determination to agree a pragmatic solution that delivers the Brexit the British people voted for, while ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

Last week Mrs May secured Parliament’s backing to go back to Brussels in the hope of hammering out a fresh agreement that does not include the backstop – which is unacceptable to the DUP and Brexiteer Tories – and which will command a Commons majority.

The Prime Minister is due to report back to Parliament on 13 February, with a further series of votes by MPs expected the following day.

However, there was a was warning for Mrs May that she may be opposed by her own Eurosceptic backbenchers if the deal she gets falls short of their expectations.

European Research Group deputy chairman Steve Baker tweeted that there could be “trouble ahead” and suggested changes to the backstop may not satisfy them. “Leave-backing MPs voted to support alternative arrangements in NI [Northern Ireland] but with grave misgivings about the whole agreement,” he wrote.

It came as a senior Nissan boss blasted Brexit “uncertainty” as he confirmed the company had scrapped plans to build the X-Trail 4x4 at its Sunderland plant.

Gianluca de Ficchy, the Japanese firm’s Europe chairman, said the decision had been taken for “business reasons” affected by rules on diesel engines and reduced sales.

The announcement that the X-Trail would be built in Japan was made in a letter to staff that followed a day of political rows between Brexit supporters and opponents over the reason for one of Wearside’s largest employers going against a 2016 decision to build the car there.

In the letter, Mr de Ficchy also said: “Clearly the uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4866978.1549307112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866978.1549307112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking to the media at 10 Downing Street after talks over Brexit with Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking to the media at 10 Downing Street after talks over Brexit with Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4866978.1549307112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4866947.1549266164!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866947.1549266164!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Japanese car manufacturer Nissan announced it was cancelling plans to build its X-Trail SUV at its plant in northeast England despite Brexit assurances from the government. Picture: OLI SCARFF / AFP)OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Japanese car manufacturer Nissan announced it was cancelling plans to build its X-Trail SUV at its plant in northeast England despite Brexit assurances from the government. Picture: OLI SCARFF / AFP)OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4866947.1549266164!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5838151705001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/angus-robertson-admits-new-case-must-be-made-for-independence-1-4866924","id":"1.4866924","articleHeadline": "Angus Robertson admits new case must be made for independence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549260000000 ,"articleLead": "

A new case for independence must be made before Yes campaigners can hope to win another referendum, according to the SNP’s ex-deputy leader Angus Robertson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866923.1549225475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A new case for independence must be made before Yes campaigners can hope to win another referendum, according to the SNP's ex-deputy leader Angus Robertson."} ,"articleBody": "

But the former MP insisted a second vote will happen as he unveiled plans to launch a polling organisation to help prepare the case.

The cautious note was sounded by Mr Robertson just weeks before Nicola Sturgeon prepares to set out her revised timetable for a second vote on Scotland leaving the United Kingdom.

Scots voted to stay part of the UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent in 2014 and support for independence has since remained broadly at this level.

Mr Robertson has set up Progress Scotland, with polling and research conducted by Mark Diffley, who was the lead pollster for the UK Government in the run-up to the independence referendum.

“It can’t be the same case that was run in the last referendum, given everything that’s changed,” Mr Robertson told the BBC’s Politics Scotland yesterday. “We need greater clarity on where we’re going before we could ask the question, but we also need to do the very basic work of understanding where’s the public in all of this.”

He warned that a Yes vote won’t be delivered “just because one speaks a bit louder or knocks at the front door a bit louder.

“If we’re going to run a proper campaign which is properly informed, which is based on an understanding of where the public is – not just rerunning what happened before – but actually winning and winning big, we need to know how we can convince people about the economic case that gives them confidence, we need to explain what our relationship with Europe is going to be like, we need to explain on the currency question the answers to the questions that people have. We need to do all of that groundwork.”

Pamela Nash, head of Scotland in Union, said: “What Angus Robertson will find very quickly is that the majority of voters don’t want another divisive independence referendum.”

The UK Government, which has control over the constitution, has already rejected a demand from Ms Sturgeon for a Section 30 order to give Holyrood the authority to hold a second referendum after Brexit.

Mr Roberston added: “I think there will be another referendum. The current Scottish Government has a mandate to hold such a thing so I do think it will come. But we have to have our ducks in a row whenever that happens.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4866923.1549225475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866923.1549225475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A new case for independence must be made before Yes campaigners can hope to win another referendum, according to the SNP's ex-deputy leader Angus Robertson.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A new case for independence must be made before Yes campaigners can hope to win another referendum, according to the SNP's ex-deputy leader Angus Robertson.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4866923.1549225475!/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/leader-brexit-project-fear-has-become-project-cold-hard-reality-1-4866917","id":"1.4866917","articleHeadline": "Leader: Brexit ‘project fear’ has become ‘project cold, hard reality’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1549260000000 ,"articleLead": "

THERE is an especially bleak irony to the decision by carmaker Nissan not to proceed with plans to build its new X-Trail model in Sunderland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866916.1549232484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Workers leave the Nissan car plant after finishing their shift in Sunderland. (Photo by SCOTT HEPPELL / AFP)SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A majority of the people of that struggling city voted, in 2016, to leave the European Union after a campaign that promised such a decision would lead to a new era of opportunity.

Instead, warnings of the negative impact of Brexit – warnings dismissed as scaremongering by those who drove the Leave campaign – have now become all too painful reality.

In a letter to workers at the Sunderland plant, Nissan management states that continued Brexit uncertainty is not helping firms plan for the future. Now, hundreds of new jobs will not come to Sunderland. And beyond this miserable fact, it is impossible not to see Nissan’s decision as a harbinger of worse to come across industries which believed – and continue to believe – that Brexit is bad for business.

During the Scottish independence and Brexit referendum campaigns warnings of the downsides of voting to break away were dismissed as the stuff of “Project Fear” by those pushing for an end to the status quo.

This was, undoubtedly, a powerful soundbite which fed into the idea that voters were being bullied and lied to in order to keep them in line. Now those who relied on those words should be thoroughly ashamed.

Many voters in cities like Sunderland, quite understandably, felt that they had been left behind, ignored by successive governments while their communities suffered and their prospects grew narrower. Of course the promise that Brexit would improve their lots was going to hold a great deal of appeal. But what was once dismissed as “Project Fear” is now “Project Cold, Hard Reality”. Those who voted to Leave are now learning that they were lied to.

Prime Minister Theresa May promises she will be “battling for Britain” when she returns to Brussels for further talks with EU counterparts this week. This is an admirable sentiment but, we are bound to say, it is little more than that.

The Nissan decision shows that the negative effects of Brexit are outwit the control of our political leaders. Neither the Prime Minister nor anyone else can turn back this particular tide.

The case for a second referendum grows stronger by the day.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4866916.1549232484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4866916.1549232484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Workers leave the Nissan car plant after finishing their shift in Sunderland. (Photo by SCOTT HEPPELL / AFP)SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Workers leave the Nissan car plant after finishing their shift in Sunderland. (Photo by SCOTT HEPPELL / AFP)SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4866916.1549232484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}