Davies calls for Jones to give investigators access to personal emails
The Welsh Conservatives have demanded that the First Minister publish any private email that contain Welsh Government business, according to the BBC.
Carwyn Jones has admitted that he has “occasionally” used his personal email to “communicate with Welsh Government officials, advisers and ministers.”
Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, has suggested that these emails could contain vital evidence into two ongoing investigations into the First Minister. He has set out his concerns in a long letter which he has shared on Twitter.
These are on whether he broke the Ministerial Code by lying to the Assembly over allegations of bullying in 2014 and his handling of allegations against Carl Sargeant, a minister in his administration who committed suicide last year. Adam Price, a Plaid Cymru AM, claimed this week that a new email has emerged raising fresh concerns about the bullying.
On a related note, Price has received an apology from a health board after misleading information from it was used by Jones to attack him in the Assembly. He also demanded an apology from the First Minister, but the latter has refused give one.
Finally, Wales has taken advantage of new powers to implement its own electoral system by extending the franchise to sixteen-year-olds, a move with prompted Emily Thornberry to lead on the question at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Bradley says she’s legally obliged to call an election in Ulster (but not if she will)
The Belfast Telegraph reports that Karen Bradley has confirmed that she is under legal obligation to call an election in Northern Ireland – but not whether she will do so.
She said this during her first appearance before the Northern Irish Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, in which she refused to be drawn on any of the Government’s specific plans in the event that devolution doesn’t get up and running. Last week the redeployment of Sue Gray, one of Whitehall’s most senior civil servants, to an Ulster brief sparked speculation that the Prime Minister was preparing to implement direct rule.
Bradley set herself apart from James Brokenshire, her predecessor, by setting any clear deadlines for the talks. If she is required by law to call a Stormont election, however, there must surely be only so long that she can delay one.
Conservatives attack SNP stealth tax
Scottish Tories have accused the SNP of “rubbing salt in the wound” by hitting Scottish taxpayers with a second, unexpected tax grab, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Derek Mackay, the Finance Minister, has slowed down the rate at which he will increase the £43,000 threshold for the upper rate, dragging 18,000 lower earners into the new band and costing 400,000 Scots an extra £169 a year. The paper adds:
“He unveiled the change as part of a deal with the hard-Left Scottish Greens to pass his 2018/19 Budget, which saw him find an extra £170 million for councils and public sector pay.”
Conservatives and other critics of the Nationalists’ high-tax agenda warn that Scotland may be particularly vulnerable to driving away talent and investment because of how close and well-integrated it is with the rest of the United Kingdom.
They will be hoping that a distinctive position as Scotland’s low-tax party will improve their standing in the polls – a recent one found the Tories losing ground to a ‘resurgent’ SNP.
In other Scottish news, MSPs voted 65-61 in favour of repealing the Scottish Government’s controversial law banning ‘sectarian songs’ at football matches and the SNP has been accused of hijacking its culture budget to “shore up support for independence.”
Foster was given false information on controversial energy scheme
Some good news for the leader of the Democratic Unionists this week: Sam McBride reports that she may have been misinformed by the civil service when she pressed ahead with the calamitous Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
According to Sam Connolly, an official involved, Arlene Foster was not told that outside consultants had identified a much cheaper alternative to the plan. McBride states that this “is the latest in a long line of admissions by civil servants that information put before Mrs Foster was either incomplete, misleading or inaccurate.”
Outrage over the so-called “cash for ash” scandal helped Sinn Fein almost draw even with the DUP at last year’s snap Stormont poll, although Foster’s party had recovered its position sufficiently to record a huge vote increase at the general election in June.
There was more good news for Northern Ireland this week when Bombardier, an aeroplane manufacturer which employs thousands of people in the province, won a landmark dispute to overturn an American bid to impose 292 per cent tariffs on some of its (partly UK-built) planes.