Davidson warns May that her MPs are ‘not drones’

Ruth Davidson has warned the Prime Minister that the support of all 13 Scottish Conservative MPs cannot be counted on in crucial Brexit votes, the Herald reports.

Asked whether she could guarantee their support, the Scots Tory leader replied that her MPs were individuals who would vote in accordance with their own principles.

However, she then referred several times to the circumstances in which “we” would support the Prime Minister, and said that the Scottish Conservatives had agreed together on the principles by which they would assess Brexit legislation.

These intimations of a Scottish Tory ‘bloc vote’ seem to fly in the face of recent evidence, when four of their MPs put their names to a letter organised by the European Research Group pressing Theresa May to pursue a clean Brexit.

Elsewhere in the interview, Davidson said that she would support the British Government mounting a legal challenge to the SNP’s Brexit bill.

In other Scottish Conservative news, Andrew Bowie has become the first of their newly-elected MPs to join the Government. The Press & Journal reports that the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP has become a Parliamentary private secretary (PPS) at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

Welsh Government trying to block Sargeant inquiry from examining crucial days

The Welsh Government is apparently trying to prevent the official inquiry into the death of Carl Sargeant from investigating the four days between his sacking and his apparent suicide, Wales Online reports.

Although the QC in charge of the inquiry was appointed weeks ago, negotiations between the Welsh Government and Sargeant’s family mean that its terms of reference have still not been set.

Sargeant seems to have taken his own life shortly after being dismissed from his post as Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children over unspecified allegations of sexual harassment.

Carwyn Jones, the First Minister, has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the affair, especially for not telling Sargeant the substance of the allegations against him and for having a special adviser carry out a preliminary investigation rather than referring Sargeant to the civil service for investigation under the ministerial code.

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, insisted that it was essential that Welsh Government not be allowed to “unreasonably narrow the scope of the investigation”.

Sturgeon attacks ex-Children’s Minister for not resigning as an MSP

The First Minister has criticised Mark McDonald, formerly a minister in the Scottish Government, for refusing to resign his seat in the Scottish Parliament after an inquiry concluded that he had harassed women, according to the Daily Telegraph.

McDonald has resigned from the SNP but intends to continue to represent his Aberdeen Donside constituency as an independent. Opposition parties suggest that he is putting the Nationalists’ interests above his constituents, as by staying in post he will avoid a potentially embarrassing by-election.

This week, a ‘shocking’ official report found that there have been over 200 instances of sexual harassment and sexism reported in Holyrood, including dozens by MSPs.

Foster denies briefing loyalists on deal with Sinn Fein

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionists, has denied claims that her party briefed ‘hardline loyalists’ about a potential deal with Sinn Fein.

She said that whilst there may have been phone calls between members of her party and loyalist groups, they were not conducted with her knowledge or on behalf of the DUP.

According to the Irish News, which first broke the story, one loyalist with links to the Ulster Defence Association said that they were urged to reassure their people that there would be “no rolling over to republicans”.