Welsh Tory MPs resist rush on income tax devolution

The Chancellor’s proposals to devolve income tax powers to the Welsh Assembly without a referendum have been denounced by Welsh Tory MPs.

The BBC reports that five MPs have written to George Osborne urging him to reconsider the plan – supported by Stephen Crabb, the Welsh Secretary – which they claim is a “disrespectful” breach of the 2015 manifesto.

They are: Byron Davies (Montgomeryshire), Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire), David Davies (Monmouth), James Davies (Vale of Clwyd), and David Jones (Clwyd West) – Crabb’s predecessor as Welsh Secretary

Cameron, Grayling, Soubry, and Mundell strike out at Scottish Nationalists

The collapse in oil prices has led to the “complete and utter collapse” of the SNP’s policy, according to David Cameron. He made the comments during Prime Minister’s Questions as he set out his view that low oil prices were generally good for the British economy.

On the same day Anna Soubry, the business minister, told the House that she would “bet good money” that the Nationalists would fail to deliver (or continue failing, as Ruth Davidson tells us) when new powers were passed to Holyrood.

Later in the week Chris Grayling asserted that the SNP were fighting shy of a second referendum due to a massive “black hole” in Scotland’s finances following the oil price collapse.

Meanwhile David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, insisted that the Tories could come second in the upcoming Scottish elections.

McCluskey turns his guns on Scottish Labour…

The leader of Unite, one of the biggest unions in Britain, has called on Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, to “apologise for betraying” Scots and renounce New Labour’s “neoliberal” agenda, according to Politics Home.

This comes in the same week that he had a warm first meeting with Nicola Sturgeon, promised to be a “critical friend” to the Nationalists, and revealed that 65 per cent of Unite members in Scotland had backed the SNP at the general election.

…Corbyn accused of plot to ‘stitch up’ Welsh by-election

The Labour leader has been challenged over an alleged plot to interfere in the selection for an upcoming by-election to ensure one of his hard-left supporters is elected, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Huw Irranca-Davies, the sitting MP for the safe Labour seat of Ogmore, is seeking election to the Welsh Assembly this year, and will resign his Westminster seat upon election.

Corbyn’s supposed candidate is Katy Clark, one of the six directors of Momentum who sat for ten years as a Scottish MP before being unseated by the SNP in May.

Some Labour figures, such as ex-MP Tom Harris, have warned the leadership that last time Labour HQ meddled in a Welsh selection, it led to a revolt and an independent winning Blaenau Gwent twice.

Sturgeon disowns slur on Armed Forces

The First Minister of Scotland has distanced herself from comments from her party describing the cadets as “cannon fodder”, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A story in the pro-separatist Sunday Herald reported a “senior SNP source” denouncing the British Government’s proposal to try to expand cadet programmes, prioritising “less affluent” areas where the skills and experience offered by cadets could have the greatest marginal benefit.

Responding to the story an SNP spokesman said that: “Our armed forces have our full support”. The Scottish Conservatives have demanded that the Scottish Government identify the person responsible.

Sinn Fein consider a change in leadership

Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, has revealed that his party is considering a new leader.

The News Letter reports that, whilst he’s determined to lead the republicans into this year’s elections, Sinn Fein is “looking seriously” and “the whole issue of transition”.

He also said that he would change the titles of the province’s dual executive to “joint first ministers” if they overtook the Democratic Unionists to become Ulster’s largest part, and predicted substantial gains for Sinn Fein in the Republic’s upcoming election.

This same week he also agreed to appear before a legacy inquiry into the affairs of the IRA in Londonderry during the 1970s, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Elsewhere Arlene Foster, the new DUP leader and First Minister, outlined how her politics were shaped by the IRA’s terror campaign against Protestants in the border territories.

SNP MPs called out on self-promotion, expenses, and more

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the SNP spokesman for trade and investment, faces questions over the conduct of a charity she founded.

The Herald reports that Scottish Asian Women’s Association (SAWA), a charity founded by Ahmed-Sheikh with £16,000 of Scottish Government money, only gave three per cent of its income to good causes whilst she was chairwoman.

The charity’s activity dwindled in the year prior to her election during which she ran for both the European and British Parliaments – except, as Alex Massie notes in the Spectator, to endorse her candidacy.

Since Ahmed-Sheikh resigned as trustee upon her election, SAWA has given £11,000 to good causes.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph revealed that Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, has had the most expenses claims rejected of any sitting MP, and the party’s Defence spokesman became the second SNP MP to admit failing to declare a company directorship to Parliament.

Guinness rejects UUP nomination of DUP for resignation world record

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a bid by the Ulster Unionists to get their larger rival, the DUP, nominated for a Guinness World Record for ministerial resignations has been rejected.

Democratic Unionist ministers have resigned 27 times since since May 2011 – in large part due to their cycling ministers in and out of the Northern Ireland Executive to prevent its collapse during their withdrawal as part of a stand-off with Sinn Fein.

Labour AMs face no penalty for breach of conduct rules

Two Labour members of the Welsh Assembly are to face no repercussions, despite having been found in breach of the Welsh chamber’s code of conduct, according to Wales Online.

Neither Jenny Rathbone nor Mark Drakeford declared their interests during their time as chair of the All-Wales European Programme Monitoring Committee, despite each earning four-figure sums from those interests.

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