May won’t address legislators in Dublin
The Prime Minister has declined an invitation to address the Dáil – the Irish parliament – during a visit to Dublin later this month, the Irish Independent reports.
Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach (prime minister), extended the invitation, which would have made her the first Conservative and only the second British Prime Minister to do so since Tony Blair in 1998.
As our editor has been exploring, Ireland is one of the most complex issues facing the Government as it extricates Britain from the European Union. Given that Theresa May is working hard not to tip her hand to Brussels, she was probably wise to avoid a grilling by Irish legislators.
Rudd rules out separate Scottish immigration system
The Scotsman reports that the Home Secretary has rejected the idea that Scotland should operate its own immigration system after Brexit.
Amber Rudd apparently said that such a move would undermine Britain’s border control system by introducing too much additional complexity. The SNP cite Canada and Australia as examples of variegated systems, but both those countries span continents.
Earlier in the week David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, also said that he remained unconvinced of any need for Scotland to try to stay in the Single Market should the UK depart it.
With the Supreme Court also confirming that foreign affairs remain as reserved to Westminster as ever they were, it has not been a good week for Nicola Sturgeon’s list of wriggle-outs from her referendum rhetoric.
Welsh Labour team up with Plaid Cymru over Brexit
Carwyn Jones’ dalliances with nationalism have been a frequent subject of this column ever since it started. Nominally unionist, the First Minister never hesitates to try to drive a wedge between London and Cardiff in order to secure “more powers”.
For example, before June’s EU referendum vote he suggested a Leave win might make Welsh voters choose the EU over Britain – a nonsensical suggestion, as we pointed out – and after it he demanded the Welsh Assembly get a veto on the Brexit deal.
Now he’s teamed up with Leanne Wood, the leader of the Welsh Nationalists, to launch a White Paper for leaving the EU. At it’s core? Staying in the single market, and a proposal for “how migration from the EU could be restricted without breaching the freedom of movement principle.”
If that sounds very status quo, it shouldn’t be surprising. What Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Tory leader, dubbed “the Cardiff Bay bubble” was blindsided by Wales’ Leave vote and didn’t allow itself to get knocked off its “more powers!” script for long.
Dugdale puts pressure on SNP over budget
Speaking of, Labour seem to have made a little headway against the Nationalists at Holyrood this week. The Scotsman reports that the Scottish Government is under pressure to water down its budget proposals.
Labour are trying to unite the left-leaning opposition against plans to cut £327 million from local council budgets at the same time as the Tories have vowed to oppose the SNP’s attempts to make Scotland “the highest-taxed part of the UK”.
Writing in the Daily Record Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s leader north of the border, points out that Scotland’s economic growth already lags behind the rest of the UK, whilst its unemployment level is higher, and argues that cuts to local services will exacerbate these problems.
New leader for Sinn Fein ahead of snap elections
Following Martin McGuinness’ decision to step down ahead of next month’s snap elections in Northern Ireland, the largest nationalist party have chosen Michelle O’Neill to be their new ‘leader of the north’.
The 40-year-old MLA for the Sinn Fein stronghold of Mid-Ulster is apparently part of the party’s efforts to “rebrand itself for the next generation of voters, according to the Belfast Telegraph, which also provided a handy analysis of her first interview.
Unless either Sinn Fein or the Democratic Unionists are displaced as the largest nationalist and unionist parties, which seems unlikely, O’Neill will face an early test once the ballots are counted: navigating either the reconstruction of devolved government or avoiding the blame for its total collapse.