Mundell tells SNP to stop ‘obsessing’ over rematch

The Herald reports that the Scottish Secretary believes the SNP’s refusal to rule out a second independence referendum is a greater cause of damaging uncertainty than the upcoming EU vote.

David Mundell, the only Conservative MP in Scotland, made his remarks as the Prime Minister took up the ‘Brexit may break up Britain’ argument.

The Government also wants a ‘reset’ of relations between Westminster and Holyrood, Mundell added, arguing that the Scottish Parliament’s new powers should bring an end to the latter’s blame culture.

Labour have not been effective at pressing the SNP on the powers they already have when in opposition, so Mundell will be hoping Ruth Davidson’s 31-strong Conservative bloc will do better.

Villiers dismisses Sinn Fein demands for border poll

The Northern Irish Secretary believes that the conditions for a referendum are “not even close to being met”, the News Letter reports.

Nationalism had a bad election in Ulster, with both Sinn Fein and the SDLP losing vote share and seats to left-wing, non-constitutional parties whilst also alienating conservative Catholics.

The gradual electoral decline of nationalism in Northern Ireland might explain the growing danger posed by dissident republican terrorist groups.

Labour and Plaid strike deal to re-select Jones as First Minister

The unexpectedly dramatic contest to be First Minister of Wales appears to have ended, with the ruling Labour administration striking a deal with the nationalists.

Labour won 29 of the Assembly’s 60 seats and (complacently) assumed Carwyn Jones’ re-selection would be a formality.

But Plaid’s Leanne Wood fought him to a tie with the unexpected support of the 11 Conservative and seven UKIP AMs. He was spared defeat only by the sole surviving Liberal Democrat.

There followed several days where Labour and the nationalists each accused the other of an arrogant refusal to heed the will of the Welsh people.

Wood’s refusal to countenance a deal with the 18 right-leaning AMs means the rewards of this stand-off have flowed leftwards: the critical talks were between Labour and Plaid, and the Lib Dem was offered a Cabinet post.

It may, however, end up making Plaid complicit in the next few years of Labour misrule – Jones’ denunciations of “same old Plaid Cymru” suggest such a strategy.

Ex-SNP minister claims Lockerbie bomber release was part of bid for more powers

Kenny MacAskill, the one-time Scottish justice secretary, has claimed that his decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was part of a complex arrangement to secure more powers for Holyrood.

The Daily Record reports that the move was part of an arrangement to win £13 billion of oil deals for British firms in Libya, for which he and Salmond sought a devolutionary reward.

Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary, reportedly described the claim as a “highly embroidered” version of what actually happened.

SDLP under pressure to follow UUP into opposition

Stormont looks set to have its first proper Opposition after the Ulster Unionists pulled out of the all-party Executive.

Now all eyes are on the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), their nationalist counterpart, who are still deciding whether or not to follow them.

The centrist Alliance Party is also reported to be mulling quitting the Executive rather than reclaim the contentious Justice post, which might instead go to the Greens.

Both smaller parties going into opposition would allow them to cooperate and pose as an alternative power-sharing Executive, rather than just another part of the current administration.

However the DUP are being uncooperative, with Arlene Foster, the First Minister, refusing to allow a change in the Assembly’s seating pattern to reflect the new  arrangements.

Coburn blames ‘careerists’ for UKIP’s Scottish flop

The Scottish leader of the People’s Army has lashed out at ‘careerists’ who undermined him during the election, The Scotsman reports.

David Coburn, who became UKIP’s most senior elected Scottish representative when he became an MEP in 2014, has faced a persistent undercurrent of discontent from other members.

Activists have complained that his gaffe-prone manner (which he claims is a deliberate, attention-seeking affectation) makes him unfit to be the face of the party.

But as a personal friend of Nigel Farage his position seems secure, and Coburn is now indicating that ‘disciplinary procedures’ will be used against those he deems to have “deliberately set out to cause the party harm”.