Union: Gove tells Sturgeon ‘not now’, but not never as Government ‘opens door to future Scottish referendum’…

“Michael Gove told Nicola Sturgeon “not now” in her bid for Scottish independence – but left the door open for a future referendum. After the SNP fell just short of majority in the Scottish Parliament elections, the Cabinet bigwig swerved questions on whether the Government would use the courts to block her vowed attempt to hold another vote on breaking up the UK. But notably he stopped short of outright rejection of another vote in a significant step back – instead he said now was not the time because of Covid. He told ITV Scotland it was “not now” for a second vote. The SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority during the Super Thursday elections, securing 64 seats in Holyrood… But Mr Gove said the Scottish First Minister’s failure to recapture the dizzy heights of 2011… indicated there was not a fervour among the public for another independence poll.” – The Sun

  • First Minister that ‘Indyref2’ is a matter of ‘when, not if’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon and Johnson braced for extended stand-off over independence referendum – FT


  • Sarwar makes ‘open and big offer’ to work with SNP – Daily Telegraph


  • Sturgeon’s canny switch would have made Arthur Daley proud – Andrew Neil, Daily Mail
  • Many Scots don’t want independence, but a more cooperative union – Gordon Brown, The Guardian


…as Government lines up billions for Scottish projects in effort to save the UK

“Ministers are preparing to offer help to clear Scotland’s cancer backlog and invest billions of pounds in infrastructure projects as part of a renewed effort to save the Union. Boris Johnson will use a summit with leaders of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments to suggest injecting money directly into areas that need attention as the country emerges from the pandemic, even if it means encroaching on devolved responsibilities. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has stepped up demands for a second independence referendum after the Scottish National Party won a fourth successive victory in the Holyrood elections. The UK government plans to adopt a “show, not tell” approach to its spending over the coming months as part of efforts to highlight the positive case for staying in the UK.” – The Times

  • Drakeford demands more powers for Cardiff parliament – FT

Prime Minister ready to confirm the return of indoor socialising and dining from May 17

“Boris Johnson will Monday formally sign off the return of indoor socialising and dining from May 17, with new data expected to be released which underscores the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines. At a Downing Street press conference the Prime Minister will confirm that stage three of his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown for England will go ahead as planned. That means six people or two households will be able to mix inside, pubs and restaurants can restart indoor dining, and overnight stays will be allowed from next Monday. From that date people will also be allowed to hug each other again, face masks will no longer be needed in secondary school classrooms, and cinemas and theatres can reopen… The Prime Minister said due to the success of the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out “we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers move ahead with reopening after election triumph – FT


  • Seize this historic moment, Boris, and scrap all social distancing rules for good – Mark Harper MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Keeping social distancing beyond June would be ‘morally wrong’ and cripple recovery – Steve Baker MP, The Sun
  • Under Labour, unions would have jumped the vaccine queue, but voters preferred fairness – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Be ready for a general election in the spring of 2023

Truss accused of major ‘blunder’: error in small print may cost £35bn

“Liz Truss has been accused of making a “catastrophic blunder” that could see UK companies who sign up to the government’s flagship freeport programme lose out on export markets worth up to £35billion a year. Labour’s Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry said clauses included in rollover trade deals with 23 countries including Canada, Switzerland, Norway and Singapore exclude manufacturers benefiting from freeport tax breaks. She claimed firms taking advantage of new freeport zones at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth & South Devon, Solent, Thames and Teesside will now be forced to pay possible high tariffs on exports to these countries.” – Daily Express Continue to all today’s Newslinks