{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"uk","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/why-workplace-parking-tax-is-part-of-a-virtuous-circle-alastair-dalton-1-4873400","id":"1.4873400","articleHeadline": "Why workplace parking tax is part of a virtuous circle – Alastair Dalton","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210401000 ,"articleLead": "

A workplace parking tax is seen as a win-win measure by Edinburgh and Glasgow, cutting congestion and helping to fund better public transport, writes Alastair Dalton.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873399.1550172301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils want to introduce a workplace parking levy. Picture: Dan Phillips"} ,"articleBody": "

How much did it cost you to get to work today? If you travelled by bus or train, you’ll know exactly from the price of your ticket. A taxi ride instead will have also produced a fare to pay.

But what if you drove - as most people do. Do you consider it just the price of the fuel? Or twice that, to cover other costs like insurance and servicing? Or the UK Government’s approved mileage rate of 45p a mile?

However you calculate it, there’s also the cost of the congestion and pollution to which you are contributing, and the wear-and-tear to the road network, depending on where and when you drive. Who should pay for that?

These considerations have been thrown into sharp focus by the Scottish Government’s surprise plan to enable councils to charge for workplace parking, as part of a Budget deal with the Greens.

It is not known how much staff would have to pay, if the charge is passed on by employers, but it is currently £402 in Nottingham, the only place in the UK where it operates.

The proposal met with predictable howls of protest from business groups, followed by unions issuing dire warnings about the impact on their workers. The Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, even suggested it would contribute to making teaching less attractive and “exacerbate the current challenges in teacher recruitment and retention”.

READ MORE: Workplace parking tax: How UK’s only levy scheme works

Debate over the merits of introducing a scheme in Scotland has been limited by a lack of information about how and where it might operate. Commuters working in out-of-town office parks are already anxious about whether they might be included, and several rural councils have already ruled out introducing it.

However, the planned levy should serve to highlight that we need to talk about how we pay for using the roads.

What was once “road tax” - the old tax disc - has been for decades a vehicle tax, based on engine size and emissions. It’s also paid to the UK Government, who do not fund the upkeep of Scotland’s roads - the Scottish Government and councils do.

READ MORE: Workplace parking levy a car crash waiting to happen – Brian Monteith

The first Labour-Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive after devolution ditched plans for a workplace parking levy in 2000, claiming it had no support.

Five years later, attempts by Edinburgh City Council to charge motorists to drive into the capital to cut congestion were abandoned when the scheme was rejected in a local referendum.

But when I revealed in 2017 that Scottish Government officials were looking again at a parking levy, Anna Richardson, SNP-run Glasgow City Council’s sustainability and carbon reduction convener, said: “The hard political truth is we need fewer cars - I do not think we have got any choice.”

The writing is on the wall for unrestrained car use in cities. Glasgow has already launched the first of four planned low emission zones in Scotland, which will see all but vehicles with the cleanest engines banned from pollution hotspots, such as city centres.

Edinburgh and Glasgow - the councils keenest on a parking levy - see it as a win-win measure, both helping to curb traffic growth while also generating significant income for public transport improvements. Nottingham claims its scheme has done both, and has made more than £50 million in seven years. A promising virtuous circle.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALASTAIR DALTON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873399.1550172301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873399.1550172301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils want to introduce a workplace parking levy. Picture: Dan Phillips","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils want to introduce a workplace parking levy. Picture: Dan Phillips","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873399.1550172301!/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-to-expats-in-eu-the-uk-sounds-like-it-s-preparing-for-war-alastair-stewart-1-4873826","id":"1.4873826","articleHeadline": "Brexit: To expats in EU, the UK sounds like it’s preparing for war – Alastair Stewart","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550232292000 ,"articleLead": "

British ‘expats’ living in Spain are not all beach-going retirees, most of them are of working age, and they are in agony over the uncertainty that still surrounds Brexit, writes Alastair Stewart.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873825.1550232288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Heard from a different country, British rhetoric about Brexit is somewhat alarming (Picture: Brian Berg/AFP/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

The single best example of ‘cognitive dissonance’ I’ve ever seen is the 1990 interview between Margaret Thatcher and Kirsty Wark on BBC Scotland. Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Forsyth had advised the Prime Minister against saying “you in Scotland”. She was, after all, the leader of the whole country. The infamous result was the Prime Minister repeatedly saying “we in Scotland” as if she owned a house in Edinburgh.

With that in mind, I’m conscious of saying “we in Spain” when talking about Brexit, but I’m exhausted with the ‘expats’ cliche. It’s a popular hackneyed phrase that perpetuates the stereotype that all British people living and working in Spain are leather-skinned, beach-going expats who spend their days sunbathing.

That’s the narrative that’s formed in the heads of many Brexiteers – we’re a spoilt demographic of retirees who moved away from the UK and have no right to determine the course of our own country.

The Office for National Statistics, on the other hand, reports that two-thirds of the 784,900 British long-term residents in the EU are between 15 and 64 years old. Most Britons in Spain and across the European Union are actually of working age, a critical detail that’s often overlooked.

READ MORE: Brexit: Real risks of UK becoming a ‘less friendly place’ – leader comment

Elderly retirees are one part of the demographic, but not the principle core. It would be mad to suggest that the thousands of Italians, Romanians and Polish citizens in the UK are en masse retirees.

It’s a double standard that’s severely reduced UK political receptibility to credible concerns from British economic migrants across the EU.

Spanish friends of mine are living in a constant state of disbelief as to what the game plan of the British government is.

The rhetoric from Theresa May’s Government and Brexit-backing MPs is positively war-like when you hear it in a different country. Who, the Spanish ask, is the enemy here?

From what they can infer, Britain thinks the EU has mined the political road to a British exit from the EU. The British Government has responded by threatening a scorched-earth no-deal policy against ... well, itself.

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

In the middle are the hundreds of thousands of people who just live and work. Spanish honesty is rather refreshing if you get caught up in a Brexit cycle of despair. Successive Spanish premiers have publicly said that, in the event of any or no Brexit deal, British citizens in Spain will be protected.

Both Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his predecessor Mariano Rajoy understand that most Spanish people in the UK are there to live and work in the same way most Britons are in Spain.

The ‘expat’ cliche is taken so literally in the UK that it’s a sort of novelty over here in Spain. It sits alongside the socks-and-sandals and fanny-pack trope about American tourists. It’s got little basis in reality and can’t possibly be the underpinning formulation for a Government strategy towards the millions who elected to live and work abroad when free movement was in operation.

When I speak to old acquaintances back home, their first question is about the weather. When I tell them I want to return to Edinburgh, I’m met with mild-incredulity as to why I’d want to leave the sunshine.

I hold a full-time job and enjoy a Friday pint. Supermarkets still exist, and the buses run on time here. I want to return to Edinburgh for new career opportunities, not because I’ve indulged a four-year holiday.

We’re not spending 9-5 daily sessions at the local beach, and life and work are as normal concerns in Spain as at home, just as they are for millions of others across the EU.

There is no word for the unique agony of not knowing how the dice will fall, but ‘Brexit’ comes close.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alastair Stewart"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873825.1550232288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873825.1550232288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Heard from a different country, British rhetoric about Brexit is somewhat alarming (Picture: Brian Berg/AFP/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Heard from a different country, British rhetoric about Brexit is somewhat alarming (Picture: Brian Berg/AFP/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873825.1550232288!/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/prostate-cancer-uk-campaign-saw-bookies-as-best-bet-donald-morrison-1-4873085","id":"1.4873085","articleHeadline": "Prostate Cancer UK campaign saw bookies as best bet – Donald Morrison","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550142054000 ,"articleLead": "

Prostate cancer was a taboo subject for many years but men are increasingly opening up about the ­disease. ­Comedian and actor Stephen Fry and journalist Bill Turnbull are among the many high profile figures to talk about their own battle with the ­disease. In doing so, they’ve helped raise awareness about a disease that still claims around 1,000 lives in ­Scotland every year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873083.1550142048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Miles Briggs MSP, Miriam Lang and Jamie Cook from William Hill, and Gerard McMahon of Prostate Cancer UK, celebrate the success of the awareness campaign, which also raised �25,000"} ,"articleBody": "

Prostate cancer is the most ­common cancer in men and the ­disease kills one man every 45 ­minutes in the UK. Men over 50, black men and men with a family history of prostate ­cancer all face a higher than average risk of the disease.

Given their age profile, it’s a disease which potentially affects many of our customers, typically men in their 50s and over who are hard to reach through conventional health screening and messaging.

So, when Prostate Cancer UK approached ABB and William Hill last year to suggest a joint campaign targeting men in betting shops, it seemed like an obvious partnership. Looking back, few of us could have anticipated its success.

The partnership began in spring 2018 with a week-long pilot in 12 shops across Scotland. It quickly expanded, taking in shops near major football stadiums and running over two weeks instead.

It was clear from the outset that this was a campaign that was ­likely to inspire and engage shop staff, many of whom had their own family ­history of prostate ­cancer.

By May, the campaign was ready to roll out nationwide across all of ­William Hill’s 310 shops in ­Scotland.

Posters, leaflets, badges and ­collection tins were distributed to ­every shop, staff were briefed on key ­prostate cancer messages to bring up in ­conversation with customers, and volunteers from Prostate Cancer UK, who have lived or are currently living with the disease, visited shops to talk to staff and customers about their own experiences.

The campaign was timed to ­coincide with a busy summer of sport, including the Champions League Final, the World Cup, Royal Ascot and ‘Glorious Goodwood,’ events guaranteed to draw large numbers of men into betting shops. That was key.

Prostate Cancer UK relies on ­getting its message into ­venues where men gather. Kathleen Feeney, volunteer manager for the charity said: ­“Prostate Cancer UK’s ambition is to stop men dying from prostate ­cancer and to achieve this it is ­crucial to reach as many as possible, to help raise awareness of their risk and raise funds for vital research.

“Partnering with William Hill has ­provided us with an opportunity to get these important health ­messages out to many men in Scotland whilst ­raising funds.”

But the campaign wasn’t confined to betting shops. Shop staff took to the streets and the hills to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK, with some ­competing in Kiltwalks and others climbing Ben A’an.

By the end of the four-month ­campaign, 5,000 Prostate Cancer UK ‘man of men’ pin badges had been sold in shops, raising £10,000, a ­further £15,000 had been raised by William Hill staff through ­charity fundraising and more than 5,000 information cards had been distributed to customers.

The campaign secured support from dozens of MPs and MSPs, many of whom visited shops in their local constituency, and gained nationwide media coverage, ensuring its message reached the widest possible audience.

For Miles Briggs MSP, the co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Cancer, the campaign was an example of how to engage a traditionally hard to reach demographic. He said: “This is exactly the sort of innovative approach we need to see in the future to deliver public health information and tackle the many health inequalities which exist in Scotland.

“This partnership has done a great deal to raise awareness of prostate cancer among men, including those who may be reluctant to go to their GP to discuss health concerns, and this is really important as early detection is vital to ensure the highest possible chances of successful treatment.”

Last month it was revealed that scientists at Glasgow University are working on new research into immunotherapy treatment, which is designed to help patients with advanced prostate cancer. The treatment, which uses the body’s own natural defences to attack the disease, has been described as “game changing” and was made ­possible through a £250,000 grant from Prostate Cancer UK.

Staff and customers at ­William Hill’s shops can rightly feel proud that money they raised here in ­Scotland is helping to fund such pioneering research and ­ultimately advancing the treatment of advanced ­prostate cancer.

Anyone who has concerns can contact ­Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist ­nurses in ­confidence on 0800 074 8383 or online via the Live Chat instant ­messaging service at www.prostatecanceruk.org

Donald Morrison, Scottish media and public affairs, ABB Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Donald Morrison"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873083.1550142048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873083.1550142048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Miles Briggs MSP, Miriam Lang and Jamie Cook from William Hill, and Gerard McMahon of Prostate Cancer UK, celebrate the success of the awareness campaign, which also raised �25,000","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Miles Briggs MSP, Miriam Lang and Jamie Cook from William Hill, and Gerard McMahon of Prostate Cancer UK, celebrate the success of the awareness campaign, which also raised �25,000","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873083.1550142048!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873084.1550142051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873084.1550142051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Donald Morrison, Scottish Media & Public Affairs, ABB Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Morrison, Scottish Media & Public Affairs, ABB Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873084.1550142051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/how-i-learned-life-is-what-happens-when-you-re-making-other-plans-jim-duffy-1-4873515","id":"1.4873515","articleHeadline": "How I learned life is what happens when you’re making other plans – Jim Duffy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210400000 ,"articleLead": "

I’ve spent weeks failing to notice sunrises, smell the coffee or have fun with my dog, writes Jim Duffy,

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873513.1550171040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Are you too caught up in future worries to just enjoy the beauty of a sunrise? (Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)"} ,"articleBody": "

I’ve completely lost the last three weeks of my life. No, I wasn’t drunk or inebriated through the misuse of strong drink. I hadn’t taken mind-bending drugs either. Mind you, I’m going to my first rave in Ibiza this year, so who knows ... But, all the same, the last three weeks has been a blur. No, I’ve not been ill either or on Tramadol prescription from the doctor.

No, the sad thing is I’ve missed the last three weeks as a result of me. My frailties as a human – one who purports to be a wee bit clever, have some experience of life and know my own self – have still shone through. It crept up on me and overtook my own existence.

It is called – living in the future. And I was so busy making plans that life passed me by over the last 21 days or so. But, I’m back now and can help you not make the same mistake.

There is a terrific saying that sums it all up: “Life is what happens while you are busy making plans.”

Only my plans for the future took over the actual realty of now. It happens to me frequently in life. I have no doubt it happens to you. Something usually triggers it and it is difficult to spot.

I’m not sure what precipitated it this time, but I’m bloody glad I’m back. It is a horrible bubble that envelopes your thinking and thus behaviours. It creates stress and worry that ordinarily there is no point in thinking about. Yet, I succumbed.

I began to worry about my health and dying. Not in a morbid way at all. I have been keeping pretty fit. But, as I saw a couple of folks around me becoming ill and sustaining sporting injuries, I selfishly thought – what if that was me? What if I get one of the big nasty illnesses? I know it is in the post at some point, but the thought of prostrate cancer, bowel cancer, motor neurone disease, stroke and a heart attack began to penetrate my thoughts.

READ MORE: Jim Duffy: The world will always disappoint, so focus on your corner

This then resulted in me stressing about my life assurance, my will, bank accounts and passwords. I had to make sure all would be well.

So, I began to create a whole bunch of admin that was unnecessary as I had already taken care of much of this.

I was frozen with the fear that a quick stroke would bring my world to an end, that I wouldn’t be able to wipe my own bottom, and then I had to Google the clinic – Dignitas – to see how easy it would be to get in the door. But, it I didn’t end there.

My psyche was overtaken with “what if’s?” What if I don’t have enough cash to see me through to my old age? What if Brexit bursts Europe and we have to go through another massive recession? What if, what if, what if – and so it went on.

I was set on a course where I was putting in fixes for events that I had no control over and nine out of ten psychologists would say were imaginary. This manifested itself in hours of over-thinking things.

While I was completing one task, my head was already in the car going to the next thing. While I was eating my breakfast, my head was at my aerobics class. While I was at my aerobics class, I was worrying about Wall Street and Donald Trump’s talks with the Chinese on trade. Yep, pretty barmy stuff, with my life flying in a holding pattern.

Luckily now I have landed safely. But, the sad part is I’ve lost out on so much good stuff.

READ MORE: Can’t sleep? Then I’ve got a controversial suggestion – Jim Duffy

Living in a ‘future state’ – whether through simply being highly organised, living with some form of OCD or even just being afraid of our own humanity or mortality – is most debilitating. Yes, I guess that planning for the future is a good thing and helps keep our affairs in order. But, when it becomes an obsession that is ruled by some form of inexplicable fear, then it is unhealthy.

As a human being, you lose touch with others around you. It is like having an out-of-body experience. But instead of it lasting a few minutes, it lasts weeks.

The things I missed out on are simple things. And it is the simple things in life that make life so special. I missed the sunrises and sunsets where I live.

They are so inspiring and uplifting, but I was too busy worrying about the day I would not get to see them again. I missed the fabulous greeting my dog gives me every morning, so thrilled to see me and reminding me that she is my best friend. I certainly walked her and fed her, but I can’t remember it.

I missed the sites and smells that I get when I have coffee in a coffee shop. I forgot to people-watch and instead was a million miles away.

And so the list of missed encounters with my real life goes on.

I’m not alone in suffering from this form of situational paralysis, I made that up, but it feels like the right term.

So many of us are too busy living in the future, worrying about the future, we completely miss out on what is happening in real time around us. Worrying or “catastrophising” about the future is not a fun state to be in.

I’m so thankful I’m back and grounded in what is happening right under my nose. My question to you is – are you living too much in the future and busy making plans while life goes on around you and will you one day regret it?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873513.1550171040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873513.1550171040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Are you too caught up in future worries to just enjoy the beauty of a sunrise? (Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Are you too caught up in future worries to just enjoy the beauty of a sunrise? (Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873513.1550171040!/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-real-risks-of-uk-becoming-a-less-friendly-place-leader-comment-1-4873510","id":"1.4873510","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Real risks of UK becoming a ‘less friendly place’ – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210400000 ,"articleLead": "

As MPs indulged in political theatre, a leading light of the arts issued a warning of real substance about Britain’s place in the world.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873509.1550171020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Members of the Catalonian string orchestra Orquestra de Cambra d'Emporda, who combine classical music with pop songs and mime, pose in Edinburgh (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

It took a Supreme Court ruling for MPs to win the right to hold a “meaningful vote” about Brexit. Yesterday saw a Commons defeat for a Government motion supporting Theresa May’s Brexit strategy in a meaningless one. It mattered so little that the Prime Minister didn’t even bother to show up.

Politics as theatre is entertaining – for some – but unlike the best dramas this one lacked impact in the real world.

Ironically, several hours before the vote, a leading light in the world of the arts was warning of the real dangers of cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world.

Julia Amour, director of Festivals Edinburgh, said there was a risk that “the UK is being seen as a less friendly place and one that wants to close its borders”. The “rise of populist politics” was creating problems for festivals that had always had an international theme, she added.

READ MORE: Brexit: Corbyn and May’s lack of plain-speaking is a serious problem – Paris Gourtsoyannis

Edinburgh MP Deidre Brock also recently hit out at the UK Government’s infamously “hostile” approach to immigration because it has even been affecting performers invited to attend the city’s festivals.

Brexit-supporting politicians often say the UK is leaving the EU, not Europe, and that we will all still remain friends. But, much like any divorce, there have been outbreaks of bad blood between both parties.

The Brexiteers have also stressed that we will still be able to make new friends around the world, even if EU-UK relations sour. Part of the argument for “taking back control” has always been the ability for Britain to strike its own trade deals with other countries.

However, progress on this front to date has been rather sluggish. Out of 40 trade deals the EU, and therefore the UK, currently has with more than 70 countries – which would be lost overnight in the event of a no-deal Brexit – Britain has currently agreed four new deals. So companies that trade with Eastern and Southern Africa, Chile, Switzerland and the Faroe Islands can rest easy.

The UK Government says that “in the event of a ‘no deal’”, it would seek to strike deals with other countries as soon as possible. “These new agreements will replicate existing EU agreements,” it adds somewhat presumptuously. In other words, the best we can hope for is what we already have.

We seem to be finding out in this divorce that ‘our friends’ were really the EU’s. And given our descent into a “less friendly place”, no wonder.

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873509.1550171020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873509.1550171020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Members of the Catalonian string orchestra Orquestra de Cambra d'Emporda, who combine classical music with pop songs and mime, pose in Edinburgh (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Members of the Catalonian string orchestra Orquestra de Cambra d'Emporda, who combine classical music with pop songs and mime, pose in Edinburgh (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873509.1550171020!/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-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/diet-drinks-evidence-mounts-against-artificial-sweeteners-leader-comment-1-4873519","id":"1.4873519","articleHeadline": "Diet drinks: Evidence mounts against artificial sweeteners – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210400000 ,"articleLead": "

New research that has found a link between diet drinks and serious health conditions should make us all think twice about people who offer easy answers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873517.1550171051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Diet drinks may not be as healthy as some people believe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)"} ,"articleBody": "

Diet drinks are supposed to be healthy. But then along comes a major scientific study – involving more than 80,000 women – which finds that people who drink two or more diet drinks have an increased risk of getting heart disease, having a stroke or dying early.

It is important to stress that the researchers found a correlation and did not prove causation.

It may or may not be true that artificial sweeteners put your life at risk; it could instead be that people who buy diet drinks are trying to compensate for a poor diet or that they take less exercise.

So further studies to establish the specific health effects of the various artificial sweeteners on the market are certainly warranted.

READ MORE: Diet drinks ‘unhealthy and make no difference to weight gain’

One leading expert said the new research added to evidence suggesting it was “prudent” to limit consumption of diet beverages – yet another feather in the cap for those who follow the age-old wisdom of “all things in moderation”.

But it is perhaps also a warning against those who promise easy answers – in this case, a sweet drink with no calories, no apparent consequences – particularly when there is money to be made.

READ MORE: Scots children drinking more than 600k sugary drinks a day

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873517.1550171051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873517.1550171051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Diet drinks may not be as healthy as some people believe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Diet drinks may not be as healthy as some people believe (Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873517.1550171051!/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/john-blackwood-don-t-slam-the-door-on-landlords-they-provide-a-vital-service-1-4873082","id":"1.4873082","articleHeadline": "John Blackwood: Don’t slam the door on landlords – they provide a vital service","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550210051000 ,"articleLead": "

There has been a clear ­policy direction over the past ­decade or more by governments of all colours at both Westminster and Holyrood seeking to reduce the size of the private rented sector in the UK. This began from the ­simple premise that landlords buying up properties for rent were preventing young people getting on the much vaunted “housing ladder”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873081.1550141733!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Blackwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)"} ,"articleBody": "

Since then there has been a succession of changes in regulations and tax which aimed to meet this implicit goal. Some of these changes have been welcome. Responsible landlords want to see increased standards and professionalisation of the sector, to rebuild the reputation of a sector which has been historically poor.

However, many of the changes to the tax regime for landlords, such as ending the ‘wear and tear’ allowance, increasing tax on mortgage interest and the blanket increase on tax for additional homes no matter the ­reason for purchase, seem ­punitive and excessive especially when ­considered as a package.

What has to be admitted, however, is that these measures have been ­successful. The size and future effectiveness of the private rented sector is, indeed, under threat with more and more of our members telling us they are considering leaving the sector.

These are not massive organisations who might own hundreds of properties, these are individuals with one or two high-quality properties which they manage in the same way another individual might operate any small business.

I know it is hard to make anyone feel sorry for landlords – but just for a moment consider, what if all of these changes are based on a false premise?

What if reducing the number of landlords has not freed up houses for ­purchase by first time ­buyers? Should landlords be taxed differently from other small businesses, on income rather than profit? What if all that has been achieved is to allow faceless house builders to build ­hundreds upon hundreds of ‘build-to-rent’ accommodation in the wrong ­locations and to ­punish a small business sector providing much needed flexible accommodation in cities?

That is certainly a contention that the Scottish Association of Landlords would argue. Whilst tax changes drive out landlords who own ­properties in major cities where ­flexible accommodation is essential for further and higher education and economic growth, new build-to-rent properties are being constructed in suburbs of cities where traditionally more affordable homes would be available for purchase.

We know there is a housing crisis in Scotland, as well as public concern about the number of homes available for private purchase. However, in many parts of Scotland, the only people buying properties and ­modernising them are private ­landlords who then make them ­available for rent which is often the most desired type of housing in these ­areas.

Even with the massive investment in house building and moves to reduce planning constraints to free up more land for building, the latest figures show that Scotland is around 7,000 new houses a year short of what is needed. Driving out landlords with one or two properties cannot come close to bridging that gap. So, what strategic goal does increased tax on landlords serve?

The most recent move by the ­Scottish Government to increase the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) by 4 per cent when a house is purchased is just the latest in a move that seems to be tactical rather than strategic, although I am sure voters will welcome another “hammering” of landlords and those with second homes.

We have already seen the tax take from ADS more than double over the course of 2018 so this latest increase risks landlords being seen as a cash cow for government, which they most certainly are not. Our members operate their businesses on very tight margins so any increase in cost is ­likely to lead to a decrease in investment.

We want to see the right balance of housing across Scotland, be that new build, social housing or the private sector to effectively tackle the ­housing crisis. The risk is that by taking politically expedient and easy action, our members will be driven out of the market and, far from solving the housing crisis, we will see less of the right types of homes in the right locations across Scotland.

John Blackwood, chief executive, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL).

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "John Blackwood"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873081.1550141733!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873081.1550141733!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Blackwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Blackwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873081.1550141733!/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/theresa-may-s-brexit-deal-suffers-a-blow-as-mps-inflict-another-defeat-1-4873504","id":"1.4873504","articleHeadline": "Theresa May’s Brexit deal suffers a blow as MPs inflict another defeat","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550176525000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May’s Brexit strategy was left in tatters on Thursday after Conservative MPs handed her another defeat that risks stripping the UK government of its remaining credibility in Brussels.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873503.1550170433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons ahead of a Brexit vote today. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Last night Downing Street insisted it would push ahead with its plans despite the humiliating defeat. A quarter of Conservative MPs either abstained or voted against the government, from both sides of the Brexit divide, putting the ability to get any deal through the Commons in doubt.

Responding to the result, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Brexit farce gets even more farcical.”

The result sets up what is likely to be a decisive Commons clash at the end of the month, when the government has promised another set of votes that will see MPs seek to delay Brexit and avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Members of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) said they could not support the motion, claiming it amounted to an endorsement of efforts to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

A Downing Street spokesman claimed Labour’s votes against the motion made a no-deal Brexit “more likely”, but insisted it was still possible to secure changes to the Irish border backstop that could win the support of a majority of MPs.

“While we didn’t secure the support of the Commons this evening, the Prime Minister continues to believe, and the debate itself indicated, that far from objecting to securing changes to the backstop that will allow us to leave with a deal, there was a concern from some Conservative colleagues about taking no deal off the table at this stage,” the spokesman said.

“The motion on 29 January remains the only one the House of Commons has passed expressing what it does want – and that is legally binding changes to address concerns about the backstop.

“The government will continue to pursue this with the EU to ensure we leave on time on 29th March.”

The wording of the motion called on MPs to reiterate their support for the approach set out in an earlier set of votes at the end of January, which saw the Commons support the government in reopening negotiations with Brussels on the backstop. However, MPs also voted for a non-binding cross-party amendment rejecting a no-deal break with the EU.

The Prime Minister did not take part in the debate and was not present to hear the result of the division.

Following the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May needed to accept her strategy had failed and come forward with a plan that could bring people together to prevent the “catastrophe” of no deal.

“The government cannot keep on ignoring parliament and ploughing on towards 29 March without a coherent plan,” he said.

“She cannot keep on just running down the clock and hoping that something will turn up that will save her day and save her face.”

Scottish secretary David Mundell said the vote was “disappointing, but not significant in [the] long term”. He suggested it would allow the government to bring its deal back for a second ‘meaningful vote’ before the end of this month, when the “only option for those who don’t want no deal” would be to back the Prime Minister.

Pro-EU Conservative MP Anna Soubry said the Prime Minister had been “dealt yet another body blow”.

“What is happening is a profound lack of leadership from the very top of government,” Ms Soubry said. “This lack of leadership means there is no guidance on this, there is no grasping of the reality of the situation we are in.” She said it was “chilling” that ministers were still keeping no deal on the table when they had seen economic analysis showing that it would be “absolutely disastrous” for the country.

Leading Tory Eurosceptic Sir Bernard Jenkin described the outcome of the votes as a “fiasco that the government’s clumsiness created”.

Mr Jenkin said: “I don’t know why the government doesn’t consult a bit more widely before they table these motions. There are 110 eurosceptic Tory MPs who helped defeat the withdrawal agreement. Not one of us was consulted.”

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said the ERG were behaving as “a party within a party”. Mr Ellwood said: “They caused this tonight and they are acting as a party within a party and that is frustrating.

“There is a deal to be decided, there is still work to be done and yet tonight we see the ERG halting the government, not supporting the Conservative Party. That is not necessary and it’s also provocative.”

Earlier, an SNP amendment to the government’s motion calling for Brexit to be delayed by at least three months was defeated by 93 votes to 315.

Labour MPs were whipped to abstain, but 41 broke ranks to support the amendment, including Scottish MPs Ged Killen, Ian Murray and Martin Whitfield.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford claimed “Tory and Labour MPs have joined together to vote against Scotland’s interests”.

“With just 43 days to go until the UK crashes out of the EU, it is utterly shameful that they have put party before country by voting down SNP proposals to extend Article 50 and prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit,” Mr Blackford said.

A Labour source said the party would extend Article 50 to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but was aiming to do so through legislation as proposed by backbencher Yvette Cooper.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873503.1550170433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873503.1550170433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons ahead of a Brexit vote today. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons ahead of a Brexit vote today. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873503.1550170433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/airbus-announces-end-of-superjumbo-after-poor-sales-1-4873541","id":"1.4873541","articleHeadline": "Airbus announces end of superjumbo after poor sales","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550173588000 ,"articleLead": "

Unions have expressed “bitter disappointment” at news that Airbus is to cease production of its superjumbo A380 aircraft.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873540.1550173584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The firm said it had made the 'painful' decision after struggling to sell the world's largest passenger jet"} ,"articleBody": "

Unite, which represents workers at Airbus sites in Broughton, North Wales, and Filton, near Bristol, and those in supply chain companies such as GKN, said it would be seeking assurances on jobs and future work.

A few hundred staff in the UK work on the aircraft, mainly at Broughton, but it is hoped they can be redeployed.

The firm said it had made the “painful” decision after struggling to sell the world’s largest passenger jet and after Emirates chose to slash its A380 order book by around a quarter.

Due to the reduction and a lack of orders from other airlines, Airbus said it would end deliveries of the record-breaking plane in 2021, 14 years after it first entered commercial service.

Emirates is yet to take delivery of 14 of the double-decker aircraft, which has wings, engines and landing gear made in the UK.

Airbus said it would “start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years”.

It makes wings for the A380 in the UK, employing 6,000 staff at Broughton and 3,000 at Filton. The firm said an increase in production of its A320 model would offer “a significant number of internal mobility opportunities”.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said: “The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.

“But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”

Nearly 240ft long and with space for more than 500 passengers, the A380 took the title of world’s largest passenger jet from the Boeing 747 when it took its maiden commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney on October 27 2007.

The giant aircraft’s first commercial flight to Europe - a Singapore Airlines service - arrived at Heathrow on March 3 2008.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873540.1550173584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873540.1550173584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The firm said it had made the 'painful' decision after struggling to sell the world's largest passenger jet","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The firm said it had made the 'painful' decision after struggling to sell the world's largest passenger jet","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873540.1550173584!/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/opinion/brexit-uk-s-strategy-in-talks-with-eu-has-a-fundamental-flaw-leader-comment-1-4872919","id":"1.4872919","articleHeadline": "Brexit: UK’s strategy in talks with EU has a fundamental flaw – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550152439000 ,"articleLead": "

Using the threat of a no-deal Brexit to win concessions from Brussels relies on EU leaders believing we’d ruin our own economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872918.1550152434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May's 'leverage' in the Brexit talks with Brussels is based on the idea the UK is prepared to ruin its own economy (Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFPGetty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

The comparisons and metaphors used to describe a no-deal Brexit tend to have the same theme – “driving off a cliff”, “as bad as the 2008 financial crash”, “Armageddon”. And there are a lot of very good reasons for this.

A host of economists, businesses and industry associations – virtually everyone with a hands-on role in the economy – has warned about the dire consequences of leaving the European Union overnight in just six weeks’ time without any kind of deal. And yet Conservative eurosceptics are vociferously demanding that no-deal should remain an option and threatening to vote against their own party leader in the Commons today if she rules it out. Mark Francois, vice-chairman of the eurosceptic ERG group, claimed it would be “madness”.

Meanwhile Theresa May’s official spokesman was insisting that the UK was still genuinely considering driving off the cliff.

This is, apparently, our cunning negotiating strategy. It may hurt the UK a lot more than it hurts the EU, but if Brussels doesn’t give us what we want we’re prepared to do it. This, according to Francois, is our “leverage”. The problem with this threat is that it relies on EU leaders believing that the UK Government and MPs are actually prepared to bring about the ruination of our economy.

So our lever is not going to work, it’s going to snap when we push down on it, and the EU will continue to insist on the Brexit deal it has negotiated with May.

READ MORE: Brexit: Scotland’s chief economist issues stark warning about no-deal consequences

MPs will then face a choice: back May’s deal, delay Brexit and hold a second referendum, or do the thing which is so stupid that it is almost impossible to believe and leave without a deal.

The Road Haulage Association yesterday warned that firms could go out of business “overnight” in the event of a no-deal Brexit – despite an attempt at reassurance by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling who said that “there’s nothing to worry about” and “we’ll get a deal”.

Given May’s troubles in the Commons, this sounds alarmingly complacent and the RHA did not appear to share his confidence.

If Brexit is to happen, a deal with the EU must be struck. If this cannot be done, there must be a second referendum. In June 2016, the people of Britain did not vote to Remain in the EU but they also did not vote to leave without a deal. If those are the only options, the will of the people must be heard once again.

READ MORE: Government clears way to rush through a last-minute Brexit deal

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872918.1550152434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872918.1550152434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May's 'leverage' in the Brexit talks with Brussels is based on the idea the UK is prepared to ruin its own economy (Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFPGetty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May's 'leverage' in the Brexit talks with Brussels is based on the idea the UK is prepared to ruin its own economy (Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFPGetty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872918.1550152434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5967347971001"} } ] ,"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/opinion/two-year-brexit-delay-would-inflict-nervous-breakdown-on-uk-bill-jamieson-1-4872921","id":"1.4872921","articleHeadline": "Two-year Brexit delay would inflict nervous breakdown on UK – Bill Jamieson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550152286000 ,"articleLead": "

Bill Jamieson’s anxiety over the prospect of a two-year delay to Brexit appears to be affecting the mental health of his cat.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872920.1550152281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Could we be getting so stressed out about Brexit that it's starting to affect our pets? (Picture (posed by model): Ian Rutherford)"} ,"articleBody": "

I blame Brexit. I am having to book our beloved cat, Poosie Nancy, into sessions with a cat behavioural psychologist. Confused behaviour, loss of direction and loud caterwauling at night when BBC Newsnight comes on, starting up again in the morning with the Radio 4 Today programme and the latest news from Theresa May.

Poosie originally came from Fife which, our Edinburgh vet opines, may explain her ferocious fighting at the surgery. He has recommended the anti-anxiety plug-in diffuser Feliway to calm her down. It has had no effect on her but sends me to sleep in the armchair five minutes earlier than normal.

So now it’s the cat psychiatrist. I have visions of the scene from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and her being summoned by the needle-wielding Nurse Ratchet to the music of Mantovani’s Charmaine.

It may well be she is picking up my own Brexit anxieties. It has driven me beyond exasperation. Now there is talk of lengthy delay to avoid a ‘no deal’. It’s not Nurse Ratchet I see poised with the needle to keep us quiet. It’s Theresa May.

Curiously, I had been told last week by a source close to the Prime Minister’s Brexit aides that there was a plan to delay Brexit for two years. I thought it absurd and it ended with me shouting down the phone. Poosie cried and cavorted around the room.

Now we are told this week by the ITN political correspondent of overheard remarks in a Brussels pub by chief Brexit adviser Olly Robbins that just such a delay may be on the cards.

Two more years of Brexit? Don’t stretch all along the psychiatrist’s couch, Poosie. Leave room for me.

Now it may be that Mr Robbins was “misheard”, or that he “miss-spoke”. Or it might have been a deliberate speaking aloud – calculating that his remarks would be picked up and reported to scare Brexit-supporting MPs into supporting the Prime Minister’s amended (or unamended) deal when she comes back to the Commons from Brussels.

READ MORE: Brexit: Scotland’s chief economist issues stark warning about no-deal consequences

Faced with the choice of her deal or an extended Brexit delay, even the most ardent Brexiteer could be reduced to a state of demonic caterwauling. Enter Nurse Theresa with the dripping syringe.

However, there are many who would prefer such a delay to ‘crashing out’ with no deal on March 29. Really? The obligations of EU membership would continue to apply during such an extension – the requirement to pay into the EU budget, for example. And there would be an obligation to take part in the European Parliament elections, with campaigning to choose 78 MEPs with six in Scotland beginning in mid-April and the voting itself being held on 23 May. The new parliament is scheduled to assemble on 2 July, and if the Brexit withdrawal is extended beyond then, the UK would face legal objections if it sought to avoid taking part.

Such an outcome would be a gift for further disputation and mayhem here, not confined to Westminster but extended throughout the country. And it would also create consternation across the continent. As Martin Howe QC points out, proposals to cut the number of MEPs from 751 to 705, reflecting the UK’s departure, would need to be postponed. And as the rules stand, the UK MEPs, once elected, would be entitled to remain members of the European Parliament for the rest of their five-year terms, regardless of when the UK leaves the EU.

Any extension would require the unanimous consent of each of the 27 member states within the European Council. This would put enormous power in the hands of each individual country which may have demands it wants to make. Spain, for example, may well pick the moment to launch further questions on Gibraltar.

As if all this was not enough, the current European Parliament term will end on 18 April, and Article 50(2) requires that the European Parliament must consent to any Withdrawal Agreement before the EU can conclude it.

READ MORE: Brexit: Minister denies claim Government has ruled out no-deal

As for the political battle itself, these elections are widely expected to see a surge in support for populist Euro-sceptic parties across the continent, and pro-EU parties here would seek to counter this. The SNP would be particularly keen to flaunt its pro-EU credentials, as would the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

For Labour and Conservatives, there would be deep trouble. On what platform would these parties stand and what support would they be likely to muster from their deeply divided memberships? There would almost certainly be a pro-Brexit party that could see Mrs May’s Conservatives facing a potential wipe-out. And where would the Prime Minister’s credibility be then – as if it is not already at breaking point?

Meanwhile, a further defeat for her Withdrawal Agreement in the Commons would trigger her resignation and add to pressure for a general election. The Scottish Conservatives have enough to fear over such an outcome. But if Boris Johnson emerges as Tory leader, polls indicate that the fall in Conservative support could be even worse.

Scots do not care for his persona and style. We tend to prefer political leaders who do not appear frivolous or cavalier with office. The party’s prospects in Scotland would arguably be less formidable were its UK leader to have the gravitas and commitment to hard work displayed by the lugubrious Unionist leader Andrew Bonar Law, elected by a large majority as MP for Glasgow Central. Bonar Law may have been one of the briefest of UK prime ministers, but deserves a better place in history. As a long-standing and hugely respected senior minister in the Lloyd George coalition, he faced and overcame challenges graver than those facing the current Prime Minister.

Now bear in mind, throughout any prolonged delay, the further frustration and prolonged misery inflicted on the economy and business. Confidence and investment have already slumped. Extending the uncertainty would be a calamitous outcome, economically as well as politically.

It’s enough to induce panic and anxiety far worse than the symptoms that have brought Poosie Nancy to the cat-flap door of Nurse Ratchet. Switch off the news? Reader suggestions welcome. For extended delay would inflict a nervous breakdown on us all.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872920.1550152281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872920.1550152281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Could we be getting so stressed out about Brexit that it's starting to affect our pets? (Picture (posed by model): Ian Rutherford)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Could we be getting so stressed out about Brexit that it's starting to affect our pets? (Picture (posed by model): Ian Rutherford)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872920.1550152281!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5999241364001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/prince-philip-won-t-face-prosecution-over-car-crash-1-4873209","id":"1.4873209","articleHeadline": "Prince Philip won’t face prosecution over car crash","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550150857000 ,"articleLead": "

The Duke of Edinburgh is to face no further action over his Sandringham car crash, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873208.1550150853!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prince Philip. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Philip, 97, voluntarily surrendered his driving licence on Saturday.

He has apologised for his part in an accident on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk when his Land Rover Freelander collided with another car carrying a baby last month, leaving two women needing hospital treatment.

Some 48 hours after the crash he was pictured driving without a seatbelt, prompting criticism.

READ MORE: Woman injured in Prince Philip crash surprised at lack of contact

Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England, said it had been decided it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

“The CPS has carefully reviewed material submitted by the police in relation to a traffic collision on the A149 on 17 January this year,” he said.

“We took into account all of the circumstances in this case, including the level of culpability, the age of the driver and the surrender of the driving licence.

“We have decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute.

“All those involved in the collision have been informed and provided with a full explanation in writing.”

The decision was made after considering all the evidence submitted by the police and in accordance with the two-stage test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

READ MORE: Old idea may be rebooted after Prince Philip controversy

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Duke of Edinburgh respects the decision taken by the Crown Prosecution Service.”

Philip is believed to have remained at Sandringham, where he is spending much of his retirement, when the Queen returned to London this week following her annual winter break on the Norfolk estate.

He was left shocked and shaken by the crash on the busy A149, which happened when he pulled out of a driveway after being dazzled by low sun on January 17.

His car flipped over and he was trapped before being rescued by a passing motorist.

The nine-month-old baby boy in the other car was unhurt, but both women were treated in hospital, and passenger Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist, called for Philip to be prosecuted if found to be at fault.

The duke faced criticism for taking too long to contact the occupants of the other car and for being seen driving without his seatbelt in the days that followed.

Although Philip has given up driving on public roads, he is still legally allowed to drive around private royal estates.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873208.1550150853!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873208.1550150853!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prince Philip. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prince Philip. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873208.1550150853!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/2000-jobs-saved-after-patisserie-valerie-rescued-out-of-administration-1-4873074","id":"1.4873074","articleHeadline": "2000 jobs saved after Patisserie Valerie rescued out of administration","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550140805000 ,"articleLead": "

Cake chain Patisserie Valerie has been bought out of administration by an Irish private equity firm, safeguarding nearly 2,000 jobs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873073.1550141072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Patisserie Valerie has been saved. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Dublin-based Causeway Capital Partners has snapped up 96 Patisserie Valerie sites. However, the deal does not include 27 outlets belonging to sister brands Philpotts and Baker & Spice.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen all boast outlets of the popular chain.

Last month it was announced that three cafes in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh were among the 71 UK Patisserie Valerie sites set for closure. A total of nine outlets are to remain in operation in Scotland.

Following the buy-out, the future remains uncertain for the Capital’s Philpotts outlet on Lothian Road.

READ MORE: 2000 jobs at risk as Patisserie Valerie enters administration

They are thought to be being sold separately to a different buyer.

Patisserie Valerie, which was chaired by businessman Luke Johnson, was put up for sale last month after collapsing following the discovery of fraudulent activity in its accounts.

Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley subsequently submitted a bid for the chain, but later withdrew it, complaining that he had been locked out of the process by KPMG, which is managing the administration.

Causeway Capital’s Matt Scaife said on Thursday: “Patisserie Valerie is heritage brand, much loved by its loyal customers. This investment should mark the end of a turbulent period for customers and suppliers alike.”

The cake firm’s parent company, Patisserie Holdings, has been grappling with the fallout of the accounting fraud since October.

Last month the firm said the extent of fraud meant it was unable to renew its bank loans with HSBC and Barclays and it did not have sufficient funding to continue trading, leaving it with no option but to appoint KPMG as administrator.

KPMG has already closed 70 stores, resulting in 920 redundancies.

Patisserie Valerie chief executive Steve Francis said: “We are delighted to welcome Causeway Capital as our partners in Patisserie Valerie, ending a disruptive period of uncertainty for the business.

“The affection and loyalty for the brand among our customers and employees, and Causeway Capital’s enthusiasm and support for the business, creates for us the foundations for an exciting future for the business. “

Join our Facebook group Our Edinburgh to share images and news from and around the Capital

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4873073.1550141072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4873073.1550141072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Patisserie Valerie has been saved. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Patisserie Valerie has been saved. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4873073.1550141072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/health/heart-failure-survival-rates-only-slightly-improved-in-18-years-1-4872911","id":"1.4872911","articleHeadline": "Heart failure survival rates only ‘slightly improved’ in 18 years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550124000000 ,"articleLead": "

Survival rates for people diagnosed with heart failure have shown only small improvements in the last 18 years, research has suggested.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872910.1550083145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The new study examined data for 55,959 people aged 45 and over"} ,"articleBody": "

The government has failed to focus on the condition, which affects more than 920,000 people in the UK, in favour of prioritising other areas, such as cancer, experts said.

The new study, published in the British Medical Journal, examined data for 55,959 people aged 45 and over with a new diagnosis of heart failure from 1 January, 2000 to 
31 December, 2017.

Researchers also looked at data for healthy people alongside figures on causes of death from hospitals and the Office for National Statistics.

The research found that, overall, survival rates had increased modestly over the period. For example, one-year survival rose by 6.6 per cent, from 74.2 per cent in 2000 to 80.8 per cent in 2016, and ten-year survival rose by 6.4 per cent, from 19.8 per cent in 2000 to 26.2 per cent in 2007.

The study found that survival was worse for people who needed admission to hospital around the time of their diagnosis, and for those who were among the most deprived.

The authors, from Oxford and Birmingham universities, said there were “gradual improvements in survival rates over time, which is encouraging” but called for more to be done.

They said: “Heart failure has not been a priority area in government policy or funding, and other serious conditions, such as cancer, have seen a much greater improvement in survival over time.

“The lack of substantial progress in improving heart failure survival rates should alert policy makers to the need for further investment in heart failure services.”

The experts said GPs should have access to the most up-to-date tests and noted that patients could benefit from a rapid two-week referral for specialist care, as is currently the case with cancer.

Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at charity the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “Heart failure is a cruel and debilitating illness affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.

“Research funded by the BHF has shown a worrying increase in people being diagnosed with heart failure in hospital, rather than it being spotted by their GP. The later you’re diagnosed, the worse your outlook becomes.

“This study adds to this concerning picture of heart failure care in the UK, but identifying the shortfalls is the first step towards addressing them.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JANE KIRBY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872910.1550083145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872910.1550083145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The new study examined data for 55,959 people aged 45 and over","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The new study examined data for 55,959 people aged 45 and over","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872910.1550083145!/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/immigration-is-an-economic-necessity-for-scotland-cbi-1-4872925","id":"1.4872925","articleHeadline": "Immigration is an ‘economic necessity’ for Scotland – CBI","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550124000000 ,"articleLead": "

This week CBI Scotland joined stakeholders from across Scotland in appearing before the House of Commons Scottish affairs committee to give the reaction of business to the UK government’s post-Brexit immigration proposals.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872924.1550085092!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The construction industry is already struggling to find skilled workers despite freedom of movement within the EU"} ,"articleBody": "

This week CBI Scotland joined stakeholders from across Scotland in appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to give the reaction of business to the UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration proposals.

With access to people and skills cited by Scottish firms as one of the biggest challenges they face, ensuring businesses can continue to access workers from overseas is crucial to the Scottish economy.

The scale of need is severe. Last year’s CBI/Pearson education and skills survey found that three-quarters of businesses in Scotland expect to increase their number of higher-skilled roles over the coming years.

However, nearly two-thirds of those firms fear they won’t have enough people with the right skills to fill them. Demand is already outstripping supply and businesses are clear: the UK Government’s immigration proposals need a change of direction if they are to work for the Scottish economy.

The biggest stumbling block for Scottish firms is the possibility of a £30,000 salary threshold for skilled workers. With the median annual salary in Scotland £23,833 and more than two-thirds of Scottish jobs paying under that £30,000 mark, too many skilled workers, often in vitally important jobs, simply wouldn’t meet that threshold.

Even with free movement, today many hospitals, housebuilders and manufacturers in Scotland are already struggling to find the people they need at salaries well below £30,000.

When you consider that alongside the fact that nearly five per cent of Scotland’s total population come from the EU, you can understand why firms across a range of sectors are becoming increasingly anxious.

Take hospitality and accommodation for example, which is vital to the Scottish economy. More than nine in ten workers in that sector in Scotland earn less than £30,000, with 12 per cent from European Economic Area countries. A salary threshold at this level has to be ruled out if the new immigration system is to work for all sectors of the economy, and all parts of the UK.

Immigration is not just about the so-called brightest and best. Businesses in Scotland need access to overseas workers of all skill levels if they’re to generate the economic growth needed to fund our public services.

READ MORE: Scottish firms want UK migration system but care sector raises fears

Yet the current proposals would see only a temporary, 12-month route for overseas workers earning less than the salary threshold. This would encourage businesses to hire a different person every year, increasing costs and churn, having a negative impact on productivity and local integration.

It’s not good for business and it’s not good for the public either.

Access to lower skilled workers is too often viewed as a false choice for businesses between investing in staff and training or accessing labour from overseas. Nine in ten firms operating in Scotland have a learning and development strategy and more than eight in ten have a dedicated training and development budget.

The reality is that businesses need to continue to invest in their staff and access overseas workers if we are to fill the skills shortages that are already biting.

The White Paper proposals have understandably led to a return of the debate about whether Scotland could, and should, do things differently to the rest of the UK.

However, the majority of businesses continue to favour a single, UK-wide immigration system – provided it meets the needs of the Scottish economy.

A £30,000 salary threshold, for example, would be just as damaging for businesses in Wales, Northern Ireland and many other parts of the UK, as it would for Scottish firms. The median salary across the UK is £24,006, 20 per cent below the potential £30,000 threshold.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon says new immigration policy is an ‘act of vandalism’

However, without significant changes to the UK Government’s proposals, it is inevitable that calls for devolved and regional immigration policies will grow louder.

Because where Scotland does differ is in the scale of the demographic challenge we face. Workforce projections by Mercer identified Scotland and the North East of England as the only parts of the UK expected to see a reduction in total available workforce by 2025, while Scottish Government figures show that all of Scotland’s projected increase in population over the next 25 years is due to migration.

So, while we may face similar challenges to other parts of the UK, getting the future immigration system right is, arguably, even more important for the Scottish economy than it is elsewhere.

Encouraging people from overseas to come to Scotland, settle, start a family and a business is not just an economic necessity, it enriches our society.

That’s why we need an immigration system that focuses on the contribution people make, rather than arbitrary numbers. One positive from the UK Government’s White Paper is the commitment to further engagement with business before these proposals are finalised.

The Home Office must use the next 12 months to listen to what businesses and other stakeholders in Scotland and right across the UK are saying. Ensuring the post-Brexit immigration system allows firms access to the people and skills they need is crucial to the Scottish economy and a change of direction is badly needed.

Gregor Scotland is policy lead for people & skills at CBI Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gregor Scotland"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872924.1550085092!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872924.1550085092!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The construction industry is already struggling to find skilled workers despite freedom of movement within the EU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The construction industry is already struggling to find skilled workers despite freedom of movement within the EU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872924.1550085092!/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/the-secrets-behind-a-long-and-health-life-are-simple-dr-punam-krishan-1-4872927","id":"1.4872927","articleHeadline": "The ‘secrets’ behind a long and health life are simple – Dr Punam Krishan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550124000000 ,"articleLead": "

There is nothing more cheery for a doctor in Scotland to see a recurring headline that reads “Life expectancy rise in Scotland grinding to a halt”, writes Dr Punam Krishan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872926.1550085098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Eating less meat and more vegetables appears to help prolong life (Picture: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

As I look at my ageing parents at one end of the spectrum and my five-year-old at the other, it’s hard not to take such data personally.

As I gaze across the horizon to the “blue zones” of the world – the places where people are commonly enjoying healthy, happy and fulfilling long lives, I wonder what their secret is?

Out of all the countries across the UK, Scotland has the worst life expectancy – pretty dismal. Whilst genetics somewhat play a part in determining life expectancy and susceptibility to developing chronic diseases, there are other factors which have a greater impact such as health inequalities, austerity and cuts to public services which limit access to better life outcomes. There is also a raft of evidence which links environmental influences, including diet and lifestyle, to lifespan and by this I mean living a long life in wellness and not in illness.

In those blue zones of the world such as Okinawa, Sardinia and Greece, we know that people are living exceptionally long lives.

READ MORE: Lifestyle and poverty to blame for falling life expectancy

It has been found that people living in these zones consume a 95 per cent plant-based diet which is rich in legumes, vegetables, whole-grains and nuts. We need to be following this trend. They also exercise calorie restriction and periodic fasting which, with the diet, reduces risk factors for many chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancers. Another secret to living a healthy long life is that people in blue zones don’t drink alcohol like it’s water. Moderation is key but in contrast, we have the highest rates of harmful drinking in our society.

As a collective in Scotland, we could be doing with more physical activity in our daily lives.

When we are blessed with some of the most gorgeous landscapes, there really is no excuse for limited outdoor walking. It’s free and will go a long way to make you live a longer life.

An epidemic of technology addiction is sweeping across the globe and we are allowing it to take over our entire being.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard blames cuts as Scots’ life expectancy stops improving

The result is we are switched on all day and often all night. Chronic sleep deprivation is the root cause of many diseases including poor mental health. Ensuring that we are prioritising a minimum of six hours of sleep daily is not too much to ask, or is it?

Last week I walked past a three-storey house with lovely big windows, giving a glimpse of a common scenario today – three members of the household watching the same TV programme on their own.

People in blue zones do things together, as families, as a community. We are increasingly losing touch with this. Just some food for thought. What change can you make to your lifestyle today?

Punam Krishan is a GP and is on Twitter @drpunamkrishan

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Punam Krishan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872926.1550085098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872926.1550085098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Eating less meat and more vegetables appears to help prolong life (Picture: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Eating less meat and more vegetables appears to help prolong life (Picture: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872926.1550085098!/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/jeremy-corbyn-s-plan-for-lexit-will-see-the-left-eaten-alive-kenny-macaskill-1-4872929","id":"1.4872929","articleHeadline": "Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for ‘Lexit’ will see the left eaten alive – Kenny MacAskill","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550124000000 ,"articleLead": "

Opposing Brexit is essential for the left, which should have forged closer links with European social democrats, but Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership seem to believe leaving the EU offers the chance of creating a socialist paradise. It’s absurd, says Kenny MacAskill.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872928.1550085117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn seems to have a Machiavellian plan to inherit Brexit without taking the blame for it (Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire)"} ,"articleBody": "

Theresa May’s weaving of her tangled Brexit web continues, as she tries to inveigle Labour into her clutches. Unable to keep her own party united, she’s now seeking to entrap others. Rather than the usual sharp rebuff to opposition approaches, instead she’s showing willing to try and allay Labour fears and sate some of their MPs desires.

But, Labour would do well to avoid falling into her grasp through Tory lies or the prospect of ‘Lexit’. She’ll chew them up and – even if she falls as she will – they’ll have been devoured. The consequences for Labour of assisting a Tory Brexit will be felt long and hard, even in supposed northern English heartlands that voted for it.

Lexit – the left-wing rationale for leaving the EU – is as deluded as Brexit and Labour will be blamed if they simply allow it to happen, as much as if it was supported by them.

Machiavellian efforts by Corbyn to inherit Brexit, without being blamed for it, won’t wash. Whether the party would even remain united in such a scenario is hard to say. The political duplicity would alienate many and the economic crisis to follow would shatter others.

Likewise, Tory pledges are not to be believed. The idea that employment rights could be protected, when it’s been the EU that brought many of them in, is absurd. A UK outwith the EU will see them devastated not advanced, after all that’s part of the vision of a free-market dreamland promoted by those rushing to push us over the cliff edge.

That collective stupidity would be compounded by Labour MPs happy to take some short-term funding for their constituencies or even wider regional areas. A few millions or even tens of millions cannot resolve the havoc already wrecked, never mind much worse to come, as the likes of Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover review their future.

READ MORE: Brexit: Minister denies claim Government has ruled out no-deal

For sure, some short-term baubles could be purchased and displayed and some community facilities preserved or even enhanced. But long term, the prospects would be dire as inward investment drained away and a Government based in the south of England continued northern neglect. To paraphrase one of the heroes of the Brexiteers “never would so much harm be done to so many by so few”.

Of course, the supposed People’s Party hasn’t been helped by their own Dear Leader. Seemingly overlooking the conference policy, Corbyn forgot – according to his aides – to include a final paragraph in his letter to Theresa May about a People’s Vote. All politicians can forget and make mistakes but not of that significance and not when it’s no doubt been through numerous agreed iterations, revisals and even hands.

That’s not just disingenuous but downright duplicitous. It’s also insulting to Keir Starmer who has been a voice of authority and reason in Corbyn’s otherwise lightweight and vacuous shadow Cabinet. But it shows the inner desires of the Labour Leadership who are reluctant remainers or secretly – or openly – wish for a Lexit.

It’s absurd but sadly reflects a mood of British exceptionalism that runs deep within some of the left as it does on the right.

READ MORE: Government clears way to rush through a last-minute Brexit deal

Over the years, Labour has seen those who preferred to stick with the empire or railed against the capitalist conspiracy of the EEC. That reduced in recent times as the empire faded and the EU was born, but still isolationism or Atlanticism has seemed to prevail. Europe was okay for holidays or trade but not for solidarity or political philosophy.

There’s not just been a reluctance but a lack of warmth in embracing Europe despite some honourable exceptions. Labour may be members of the Socialist International but more often they’ve seemed more animated by defending Cuba or Venezuela than forging links with Social Democratic parties on the continent.

That’s really quite incredible and even shameful. The Social Democratic greats of Olaf Palme and Willy Brandt showed a path to follow but it was treated with disdain. True links were not forged and I found it quite incredible that there’s no English translation even of Palme’s biography, which borders on contempt. Yet his Swedish Social Democrats were remarkably successful and worthier surely of emulating than regimes on distant continents.

European socialists were disdained whilst others far less deserving were revered. Even Democratic politicians from the USA were treated with greater reverence than similar European leaders, who were both further to the left and had more in common with our society. Blair and Brown seemed more comfortable with Clinton, Gore or even Jesse Jackson than those who were then still major political figures in Europe. But why engage with Europeans when you’re British?!

European socialism has now gone into a tailspin with a few limited exceptions – out of power in Germany and France, and hanging on by their fingernails in Sweden or just managing to form an administration in Portugal. But, in many ways, it’s a microcosm of the movement more generally. Socialism is on the run and will be for a while to come, until it reassesses and adapts for globalisation.

Which is why cooperation with Europe and opposing Brexit is absolutely essential for the left, as well as for the welfare of the entire country. The idea that Comrade Corbyn can lead us out of the EU and into some socialist paradise is absurd. He’s plummeting and has even less idea how to tackle globalisation and the march of neo-liberalism than the European left. Collectively there may be a solution but certainly there would be mitigation.

It was Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who said Brexit was a chance to eat “Britain’s lunch”. Politically the left would be eaten alive.

There’s no easy way back for social democracy but it’s more likely through Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis’ ideas than Corbyn’s ‘momentum’. There’s also a lot wrong with the EU such as its treatment of Greece or failure to protect Catalan politicians and it’s still moving rightwards. But, that’s also a global trend.

Currently, Europe at least provides an alternative to the Chinese and US models. Labour would do well to realise that even a right-wing EU is preferable to where Brexit will take us.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kenny MacAskill"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872928.1550085117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872928.1550085117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn seems to have a Machiavellian plan to inherit Brexit without taking the blame for it (Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn seems to have a Machiavellian plan to inherit Brexit without taking the blame for it (Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872928.1550085117!/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/deepfake-videos-take-fake-news-to-dangerous-new-level-martyn-mclaughlin-1-4872388","id":"1.4872388","articleHeadline": "Deepfake videos take fake news to dangerous new level – Martyn McLaughlin","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550037600000 ,"articleLead": "

The rise of ‘deepfakes’ could open up a new front in the disinformation war, writes Martyn McLaughlin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872387.1549998108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A screenshot of a deepfake video ' in which Steve Buscemi's face speaks with Jennifer Lawrence's voice on her body ' that was designed to show how convincing the footage can be"} ,"articleBody": "

If you have not yet watched the footage of Steve Buscemi, wearing a red, floor-length Dior Haute Couture gown and 156 carats of bling around his neck in the form of a string of Chopard diamonds, it is strangely compelling viewing.

In it, the actor speaks of his surprise at winning a Golden Globe and discusses his outfit choice for the evening, his expression veering seamlessly from one emotion to the next. Were Buscemi’s figure not already a clue as to something strange afoot, another obvious and disquieting anomaly becomes clear with the volume turned up: he speaks not with his voice, but that of Jennifer Lawrence.

The viral video, which has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times, was a novelty project on the part of its creator, designed to showcase how easily – and convincingly – genuine footage can be manipulated using readily available and relatively affordable software.

Complex in terms of the deep-learning algorithms at play, the process has a simple outcome: taking two people, it maps their eye movements, mouth details, face contours, and even the way they blink, before swapping one person’s face for the other.

The artificial intelligence technique, known as a deepfake, first gained prominence via a disturbing subculture of fake sex videos, where prominent female celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson and Emma Watson were the victims.

Only last month, Johansson said her legal attempts to curb the proliferation of deepfakes featuring her likeness had proven to be a “useless pursuit”, given how “the internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats herself”.

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Could internet propaganda topple Western society?

One video, falsely described as real “leaked” footage of the actor, has been watched on a popular porn site more than 1.5 million times. Johansson has been powerless to prevent the scourge from spreading due to the minefield of copyright laws worldwide. Short of bringing about a level legislative playing field worldwide and giving regulators some teeth, she and others have no option but to play a never-ending game of legal whack-a-mole, a course of action only open to those with deep pockets.

But as deepfaking becomes more widespread, with dedicated desktop tools now in circulation, it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is not only high-profile celebrities who will find themselves targeted. All of us stand to suffer.

What has been the plaything of those intent on creating deliberate hoaxes and fake porn has the power to become a weaponised Frankenstein technology for use in the disinformation war being waged online.

Until now, the majority of politicians who have featured in deepfakes have formed part of what might be subjectively described as humour-based footage. Only a few days ago, a video emerged of Mr Bean’s face superimposed on Donald Trump’s body, predictably ranting about Mexicans.

READ MORE: Fake news that Donald Trump can believe in – leader comment

Our democratic institutions are sufficiently resilient to withstand such substandard attempts at satire. But what will the response be if and when they are subjected to something altogether more nefarious? Among a slew of fabricated stories to circulate in Brazil in the run-up to last October’s presidential elections was a video appearing to show Lula da Silva, the country’s former president, making a series of unpatriotic remarks. The footage was fairly crude in execution, but it still managed to go viral. What is most concerning about that example is not the proficiency of the video, but the way in which it was disseminated via WhatsApp, where a remarkable 49 per cent of the Brazilian population now turn to get their news and current affairs.

That is in part an indictment of the freedom of the Brazilian media, yet it also speaks of a wider malaise caused by the fake news which sprung up around the likes of the 2016 US elections, much of which was infamously spread via Facebook.

As a result, the world’s biggest social media platform has seen its influence as a news outlet wane as it scrambles to restore credibility. The latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report, which scrutinises the habits of over 74,000 online news consumers in 37 countries including the US and UK, shows that the proportion of people using Facebook as a source of news is falling, a trend which is true of all social media providers in general.

The beneficiaries, as shown in Brazil, are messaging apps such as WhatsApp, which allow people to shun established sites and instead rely on friends and family for their diet of news. Over the past four years, the average usage of WhatsApp for news has more than doubled to 16 per cent.

If the motivation behind such a trend is a general mistrust of social media and news outlets, it leaves millions of supposedly judicious news consumers at risk of further manipulation. With no checks or balances available in an encrypted, peer-to-peer platform, the question of what is real and what is fake may not even be considered.

It is only a matter of time before the trickle of deepfakes becomes a spate, each video marginally more convincing than that which went before. The majority will no doubt be occupied with sex and celebrity, but when these tools of harassment are repurposed so as to skew our political discourse at a time when the public is acting as its own gatekeeper, the threat will be considerable. After all, how do you convince people who don’t believe in anything?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4872387.1549998108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872387.1549998108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A screenshot of a deepfake video ' in which Steve Buscemi's face speaks with Jennifer Lawrence's voice on her body ' that was designed to show how convincing the footage can be","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A screenshot of a deepfake video ' in which Steve Buscemi's face speaks with Jennifer Lawrence's voice on her body ' that was designed to show how convincing the footage can be","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4872387.1549998108!/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/bonnie-prince-charlie-and-the-perils-of-propaganda-leader-comment-1-4872383","id":"1.4872383","articleHeadline": "Bonnie Prince Charlie and the perils of propaganda – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1550037600000 ,"articleLead": "

Historian Lucy Worsley has made two BBC series about “history’s biggest fibs” in an attempt to demonstrate that far from being a collection of firmly established facts, our image of the past is often based on stories that the people in power want us to believe.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4872370.1550058182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The characterisation of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Outlander as an "effete weakling" has been described as a "travesty". PIC: Starz."} ,"articleBody": "

According to one story, Prince Charles Edward Stuart – aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, aka the Young Pretender – was actually an “effeminate weakling”.

READ MORE: Outlander’s depiction of Bonnie Prince Charlie ‘a travesty’

The 1745 Association, which says it was set up partly to “preserve the memory of those who actively participated in or who had connections with the ‘45”, claims this is how he is portrayed in the popular TV series Outlander in what they describe as a “travesty”.

Outlander had simply swallowed Hanovarian propaganda, as there was “no way that such a man could have mobilised the support he did”, said its chairman Michael Nevin.

Putting aside the debate about the motivational skills of a theoretical “effeminate weakling”, it seems wise to remember that not all of history’s fibs stem from winning side.

Just as Charles may not have been weak, he was perhaps not quite as “Bonnie” either.

READ MORE: 10 surprising facts about Bonnie Prince Charlie

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The power to recall and deselect MPs and MSPs for political reasons would be a good way to enable people to hold their elected representative to account, writes Alastair Stewart.

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Back in 1976, the former Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom, Lord Hailsham, declared the British executive an “elective dictatorship”. And why not? Barring no-confidence votes, by-elections or snap general elections, both the Scottish and British governments can have full legislative dominance for five years.

But ever since the expenses scandal in 2009, and certainly with the yo-yo-ing of opinions from members in both parliaments about Brexit, there’s been a stronger case than ever to hold MSPs and MPs to account outside the normal election cycle,

Complaining about public representatives is something of a British pastime, but isn’t it time to do something more than just accepting duplicity as a fact of life? MSPs who break election pledges should be held accountable.

What happens if they vote against their election promises or U-turn on an essential issue to a constituency? What happens if they’re just ineffective? Five years is a heck of a long time to remember a catalogue of failures.

READ MORE: Jess Garland: Here’s why UK election rules are a cheaters’ charter

Sites like TheyWorkForYou and the Scottish Parliament’s Official Reports are proficient consolidations of MSPs’ work in Parliament.

Yet there is no requirement for them to release their diaries, to declare how they spend their days or even how much casework they undertake. Aside from the public assembling the story themselves, there should be a mechanism for residents to express their dissatisfaction collectively.

The Recall of MPs Act 2015 is the closest example in operation today in the House of Commons. An MP can lose their seat if there is a successful petition to recall them for criminality. In Scotland, MSPs are disqualified from the Parliament if they’re handed down a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, but there is no comparable system of recall in place.

Crucially, in neither case is there any provision for recall for breaking political promises – a grave dereliction of duty to constituents given these are the bedrock for being elected in the first place.

READ MORE: ‘The democratic disaster of 90 seats reserved for men in Parliament’

An online system where a voter can register their dissent would revolutionise local democracy.

Petitions in the House of Commons which reach 10,000 must receive a government response and 100,000 names make a petition eligible for debate. Why can’t a similar local mechanism be initiated for MSPs and MPs?

If these thresholds are introduced, adjusted for constituency or regional population, there could be an automatic by-election giving people the chance to respond to the problems of the day, then and there.

Elected representatives are just that, and five years in the age of Brexit is too long to wait. As with any reform, there’s the challenge of implementation. It could also be abused. But the question is this: is more accountability really a bad thing in 2019?

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

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