May gives firm line to McGuinness on Brexit…

The Prime Minister rebuffed attempts by the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland to push for a separate deal for Northern Ireland as Britain leaves the EU, according to the News Letter.

Like the SNP, Sinn Fein have tried to use the fact that Ulster voted Remain to seek to break away from the United Kingdom, preying on concerns about the future of the UK-Irish border.

However, during her visit to the Province this week Theresa May ruled out any return to a hard border. Let’s hope that this most explicitly unionist of Prime Ministers continues to take a pro-active interest in Northern Ireland.

…as Jones seeks a back-door veto

The First Minister of Wales, has called for the final Brexit deal to require ratification by all the devolved chambers, as well as Parliament, before being passed.

Carwyn Jones, who heads Labour’s fifth-term administration after May’s elections, did his best before the vote to stoke fears of a constitutional crisis and hasn’t let the fact that Wales voted Leave slow him down for long.

The question is, of course, what would happen to the deal were Cardiff, Edinburgh, or Belfast to refuse to ratify it. If that caused the deal to fall we’d be leaving on World Trade Organisation terms, which would almost certainly be worse.

Alternatively if the result was that we somehow stayed in the EU than that would break the Prime Minister’s very clear stance that no devolved chamber has a veto.

SNP to debate changing the voting system

The Herald reports that a motion has been proposed to the Scottish Nationalist conference to change the voting system at Holyrood elections.

In place of the current hybrid system of first-past-the-post constituencies with a regional top-up list, the Scottish Parliament would instead be elected wholly under the STV system.

The Scottish Government can try this because the latest tranche of powers allows it to define its own electoral system – a feature entirely absent from actually federal countries like the US and Germany, which maintain national electoral systems.

It apparently isn’t clear whether this would profit the SNP much, but it may be intended to hinder the Conservatives – the theory being that anybody unwilling to vote Tory on the first ballot is unlikely to back them at all.

However, fresh leadership ratings from YouGov find Ruth Davidson not only almost as well-perceived as the all-conquering Nicola Sturgeon, but with commanding scores amongst those who voted Labour and Liberal Democrat in 2015.

Even after May’s very good results, her bid to consolidate the unionist vote may have further dividends yet to pay – even with Scottish Labour ruling out support for a second independence referendum.

Senior Plaid figure criticised for lobbying role

One of the senior members of the Welsh Nationalists has come under criticism from others in her own party for her role in a lobbying firm.

Nerys Evans, a former member of the Assembly, serves both as vice-chair of the party and a director of Deryn, a firm which has helped Associated Community Training (ACT) win more than £110m worth of Welsh Government contracts, according to Wales Online.

She also chairs ACT’s governance committee and owns a ten per cent stake in a connected company, Portal Training. Neil McEvoy, a nationalist AM who is campaigning for a Welsh lobbying register, has attacked this network of roles as a conflict of interest.

North Sea oil workers launch first full-day strike in three decades

The commodity which is supposed to underwrite the glittering, post-independence future promised by the SNP suffered a fresh crisis this week after workers voted for the first 24-hour strike in 30 years.

The Scotsman reports that around 400 workers are involved in the dispute, which has been organised by the Unite and RMT trades unions after allegations that pay and allowances face cuts of up to 30 per cent following the industry’s downturn.

Meanwhile Sir Ian Wood, whose Wood Group employs the striking workers, has urged the Scottish Government not to call another independence referendum.

Sir Ian, who voted Remain, argues that Scotland would inherit very little of the UK’s influence on the bloc, and that the long and complex accession process would spell further trouble for the oil and gas industry.

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