Scotland politics LIVE: Douglas Ross stands for general election and rebuffs claims of 'betrayal' at FMQs

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Douglas Ross has called an emergency press conference ahead of today’s First Minister’s Questions.

Don’t miss a moment by keeping up with our daily blog right here.

Scotland politics LIVE

Forbes update on 'case-by-case' North Sea licences

New oil and gas licences in the North Sea must be considered on a “case-by-case basis”, the Deputy First Minister has said, in a further sign the SNP’s position on fossil fuels has shifted.

Kate Forbes said further offshore extraction, which is reserved to the UK government, “must be consistent with our climate obligations”. She was put under pressure over the issue while standing in for John Swinney, who is attending D-Day commemorations, at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood.

Our columnist Euan McColm gives his take on the Ross decision

As McColm writes:

“The facts of the matter are these: Ross - who had a dual mandate as both an MSP and MP until Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the July 4 General Election - had previously declared he would not be standing for re-election to Westminster. His priority was taking on the SNP inside Holyrood.”

Read McColm’s full column here.

Here's what Forbes had to say on Ross post-FMQs

...Scottish Lib Dems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has raised the FAI report that found Lamara Bell would “probably have survived” had she been rescued on July 5, 2015 – the day she and her partner, John Yuill, were involved in a serious road traffic accident on the M9.

Cole-Hamilton asks: “The fatal accident inquiry system is so broken that it has taken nine years to report on the deaths of John [Yuill] and Lamara, with final conclusions only published last week.

“Will the Deputy First Minister accept that her Government has failed on two counts: first, the botched centralisation that contributed to this tragedy in the first place, and second, the intolerable wait for answers the families have had to endure?”

Our full coverage of that damning report can be read here.

Labour's Jackie Baillie targets SNP spending

The comments from the Scottish Labour deputy leader are economic related - an area that should be comfortable ground for Forbes, as former finance secretary.

Baillie questions Forbes by describing it as a "scandal" that £500 million dedicated to addressing poverty across Scotland will be handed back to the EU by the Scottish government.

Forbes responds by saying the final outcome for expenditure will not be known until the programme formally closes in 2025. And the SNP minister points out that to "have spent all the money in advance would raise questions itself".

Baillie calls it a “desperate” response from Forbes - but it was far from the worst performance from John Swinney’s right-hand minister.

Other topics to close out FMQs

Forbes is asked questions on national parks and domestic abuse victims. Her delivery throughout today’s FMQs has been an assured performance - if we were grading how she’s gone for the first time since stepping into the Deputy FM role, it’d probably be an A-

In Forbes, John Swinney has a very able politician in debates

Kate Forbes and her political background

Feels like time to take a step back, and remind you of Forbes’s political and personal background, and how she has reached the post of Deputy FM.

You can bring yourself up to speed right here.

Short-term let restrictions are up for debate now

Tory MSP Miles Briggs wants the legislation around short-term lets, that was introduced across Scotland on October 1 last year, to be suspended, pending a wider review.

Forbes says she is “actively involved” in the issue. Many business owners in the backyard of her own constituency have expressed their anger over it, so the comments from Forbes align with that.

Expect more developments on this issue over coming weeks.

Away from the entertaining exchanges at Holyrood...

Labour has dropped its legal claims against five former staff members who denied leaking an internal report about antisemitism in the party.

The quintet, including ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s former director of communications Seumas Milne and former chief of staff Karie Murphy, had previously said they would “vigorously defend themselves” in a High Court action.

An 860-page report on Labour’s governance and legal unit, which found “no evidence” of anti-Semitism being handled differently from other complaints, was leaked in April 2020.

Mr Corbyn’s time as leader was marred by complaints of anti-Semitism and accusations that senior officials were slow to crack down on members who promoted it.

And here comes the expected attack from Forbes

The Deputy First Minister uses the word “betrays” for Ross choosing to stand in the general election at the expense of deselected candidate and former UK government minister David Duguid.

“If Douglas Ross wants to back the north-east, there’s some big questions for him at this very day, on a day that he betrays a Conservative candidate in the north east who the Conservatives trusted to be a minister in the UK government, who is currently recovering from ill health, who was planning to stand and who was supported by local members,” Forbes says.

“Now I am old enough to remember when Douglas Ross said he wasn’t going to stand again for Westminster because he wanted to focus on Holyrood in 2026.”


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