Mundell hails greatest transfer in power to Scotland since 1999
David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary and sole Conservative MP in Scotland, visited Edinburgh this week to publicise what the Government is calling the greatest shift in power to Scotland since devolution, the Independent reports.
These include a range of fiscal powers, which Tories hope will kindle greater interest in fiscally conservative politics in a traditionally spendthrift political culture.
However, Mundell has been accused of “putting the cart before the horse” by urging parties to reveal how they plan to use Holyrood’s new powers before the financial arrangements underpinning the transfer are finalised.
The Scottish Secretary was also cleared of a charge of breaching House of Commons rules when he opened a food back in the neighbouring constituency of Dumfries and Galloway, which is presented by an SNP member.
Villiers faces calls to quit if she campaigns for Brexit
Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has come under pressure to resign her Cabinet post should she campaign for Britain to leave the EU, according to the Guardian.
The SDLP, the soft-nationalist party which takes its seats in the Commons, has joined forces with the Liberal Democrats to allege her unfit for the role in such circumstances, due to the damage Brexit could allegedly do to the province.
However the position of Ulster’s unionist parties is much less certain, and if there are local parties on both sides it will not be tenable to insist that the Secretary of State is compelled to campaign for Remain.
Osborne accused of keeping Welsh Labour ‘in the dark’ about major visit
George Osborne was in the Welsh capital on Thursday to deliver a major speech in which he warned about a “dangerous cocktail of new threats” facing the British economy.
The two complainants are Stephen Doughty – of on-air resignation fame – and Jo Stevens. Doughty apparently plans to investigate whether Treasury officials were facilitating a party-political event.
Cameron dismisses SNP demand for guaranteed Scottish EU membership
At Prime Minister’s Questions last week David Cameron rejected calls from the Scottish Nationalists for Scotland to have a separate policy on the European Union.
Nicola Sturgeon has accused the Prime Minister of putting the UK’s EU membership at risk, and The Herald reports that Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in the Commons, demanded that he “give a guarantee that, if Scotland votes to remain within the EU, it will stay”.
In reply, Cameron argued that Scotland had agreed to abide by British foreign policy when it voted to remain part of “one United Kingdom”.
Also this week Henry McLeish, a Scottish Labour politician who enjoyed a short spell as First Minister, said he’d back separation from the UK if Scotland were taken out of the EU, and ex-SNP leader Gordon Wilson spoke out against the separatists getting closely involved with the pan-UK ‘Stronger In’ campaign.
Farage sees off Jones (and Wood) in Welsh EU debate
Ahead of his party’s anticipated entrance into the Welsh Assembly in May, Nigel Farage took on Carwyn Jones, the First Minister, in a head-to-head debate on Britain’s EU membership this week.
The Welsh Labour leader appears to have had the worst of it: not only did Wales Online‘s reporter award the bout to Farage, but his claims that major employers Toyota and Airbus would pull out of Wales in the event of Brexit were swiftly rebutted by the firms themselves.
Then Leanne Wood, the embattled and left-wing leader of Plaid Cymru, drew further attention to him after she was criticised for labelling the UKIP leader a “voice of the far right” in the Assembly chamber.
Foster takes office as first female First Minister of Northern Ireland
Arlene Foster, who succeeded Peter Robinson as leader of the Democratic Unionists at the end of last year, assumed her post as First Minister this week.
She takes up the mantle after what the Financial Times termed a “disastrous 2015” for the province, which has seen devolved government almost completely grind to a halt over a long-running dispute with Sinn Fein over welfare.
The News Letter reports that the new DUP leader insists her party will not abandon its “Christian values” on subjects like gay marriage and abortion, but according to the Irish Times she has softened her position on attending events marking the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Sturgeon refuses to rule out Scottish election pledge on second referendum
After the separatist Sunday Herald announced that there would be no commitment to a second plebiscite on leaving the UK in the SNP’s 2016 manifesto, the First Minister took to Twitter to rebut the claim.
Sturgeon, who looks set to lead the Nationalists to a second overall majority in May’s Holyrood election, said the paper’s scoop was “news to me”, and stressed that the manifesto is not finalised yet.
DUP MP is Parliament’s most active… and most expensive
Two MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party – tied with the Liberal Democrats as the fourth largest in the House of Commons – made the news this week.
Jim Shannon, the MP for Strangford, has apparently addressed the House more times than any other MP save the Speaker in the past year, according to the News Letter.
In less happy news, the Belfast Telegraph reports that Shannon has the highest expenses bill of any MP – with another DUP member, Ian Paisley (Jr), in second place.