May clashes with Nationalists over Troubles inquiry

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Prime Minister has been drawn into a row with Nationalist politicians over claims that inquiries into the Troubles are unfairly and disproportionately targeting members of the Armed Forces or law enforcement.

Conservative MPs have fiercely criticised the Government for appearing to abandon plans for an amnesty for members of the security forces, and both Michael Fallon and Julian Lewis have attacked the Ministry of Defence’s decision to collaborate in another round of investigations against ex-servicemen.

They argue that since the IRA and other terrorist and paramilitary groups did not maintain detailed records – at least that they have shared with anybody – there is an asymmetry of evidence against makes soldiers and police officers. Not only is this unfair on the men involved – many of whom are now in their seventies – but the example will demoralise British soldiers serving in present and future conflicts too.

Welsh Tories criticises Jones’ delayed departure…

The Conservatives have criticised the Welsh Government over suggestions that major decisions will be delayed until a new First Minister is in post in the autumn, the BBC reports.

Andrew RT Davies, who leads the Tories in the Assembly, has called on Carwyn Jones to go “sooner rather than later” after the chair of the Assembly’s environment committee suggested that the final decision on an M4 relief road should be made by his successor.

He added that “decisions of this magnitude can’t just be parked until January and we need to see a swift resolution of the Labour leadership crisis.”

The First Minister announced his departure a couple of weeks ago after fending off a Tory-led bid to force the publication of an inquiry into bullying allegations against his administration, but will remain in post for the next few months.

…as Welsh Labour row over leadership rules continues

A row over whether or not to change the way leaders are elected has stepped up a gear this week: Wales Online reports that opponents of Mark Drakeford, the left-wing front runner, are “desperately trying to stop a party rule-changing conference from going ahead in the autumn.”

The current electoral college has been under pressure since the recent elections for Welsh Labour’s first deputy leader, wherein the winner received over a thousand votes less than the second-placed candidate.

In other Assembly news, the Welsh Government has failed to respond to nearly a third of its own consultation exercises launched in the last two years, according to ITV. Some of them are still ‘awaiting outcome’ despite having been completed for more than a year.

Trimble urges end to Ulster ‘scaremongering’ over Brexit

David Trimble, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland and architect of the Belfast Agreement, issued a fierce riposte in The Times this week to politicians seeking to use the Irish border to soften Brexit.

The former leader of the Ulster Unionists, who now sits as a Conservative peer, wrote that “In recent months senior politicians – some of whom were partners in the peace process – have sought to spread fear about a return to violence”, and accused them of under-estimating “the strength of the peace”.

He also drew attention to the latest research from Policy Exchange which found that, contrary to the claims of the Irish government (at least under Leo Varadkar), technological solutions do the problems posed by Brexit to the border are workable.

‘Scotland Office’ name set aside?

An interesting story in this week’s Scotsman suggests that the Government has abandoned the name ‘Scotland Office’, a 133-year-old identity lost as part of a ‘corporate rebranding exercise’.

David Mundell’s department now apparently goes by what the paper rightly notes is the much less snappy formulation ‘Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland’. This follows an earlier change its social media channels in 2015 – to ‘UK Government in Scotland’ – but officials apparently denied at that time that a broader change would happen.

The changes have also been applied to the Welsh Office, although have reportedly been taken up with less enthusiasm. The Government claims that the change is intended to illustrate the breadth of the national Government’s role in Scottish life.