Bradley refuses to rule out new Assembly elections

The Northern Irish Office has got the prospect of another set of elections to the Assembly ‘under review’, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

A spokesperson for Karen Bradley reportedly made the comments in response to criticism from Sinn Fein, which has accused the Government of having ‘no plan’ to get the devolved institutions back on their feet.

Michelle O’Neill, who leads the republican party in Northern Ireland, decried the Government’s statement as ‘glib and disingenous’, and claimed the Tories were too in hoc to the DUP to take decisive action.

Furious Davidson ‘opposed the Vow’ before 2014 Scottish referendum

The Times reports that the leader of the Scottish Conservatives was “f***ing furious* when the party leaders overruled her and insisted on issuing ‘the Vow’ in the final days of the Scottish independence referendum.

According to a new biography, Davidson thought that the pledge was the wrong way to go about delivering more powers and would “hand the initiative to the Nationalists after the vote.”

How right she was. Just as feared, the SNP were swiftly able to reframe the referendum as a defeat not on the principle of independence, but on the vague terms of a particular ‘deal’ supposedly offered by the UK parties. This was eminently foreseeable, which is why at the time I urged the Government to frame ‘No’ as a vote for our country, not a contract.

Ellwood backs amnesty for Ulster veterans

Tobias Ellwood has called for an amnesty for ex-servicemen who served in Northern Ireland to protect them from ‘ambulance chasers’, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Apparently the defence minister has announced that he won’t support any inquiry which sees elderly soldiers being hounded – and has said that he ‘knocked over a few milk bottles’ during his own deployment in Ulster.

The question of whether or not to time-limit inquiries into British troops has divided the Cabinet, with Gavin Williamson in favour and Bradley opposed. The Northern Irish Secretary has said that it would be wrong just to draw a ‘line in the sand’ over the conduct of British forces during the Troubles.

Labour may have special conference to decide Welsh leadership rules

Wales Online tells us that Carwyn Jones, the outgoing First Minister of Wales, has proposed that the party organise a special conference to resolve a long-running dispute about how his successor should be selected.

Members are currently split between those who support the current electoral college system and those who want to follow the lead of the UK party and adopt one member, one vote (OMOV), which is widely seen as a shift which will favour the party’s left wing.

The dispute came to a head in the aftermath of the election of Welsh Labour’s first ever deputy leader, in which the runner-up secured substantially more members’ votes but was narrowly beaten thanks to the electoral college setup.

Foster to lead major Orange Order parade in Scotland

Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, is going to be the ‘star guest’ at an Orange Order demonstration in Cowdenbeath in Scotland, according to The Sun.

It quotes an ‘insider’ suggesting that the former First Minister may be attending to “make a point to Nicola Sturgeon about a second vote on Scottish independence”. Neither the Scottish Government nor the local Tories knew about the visit or have any plans to meet with Foster.

Not that Foster is the only leader meeting the Order: Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, has announced that he will be visiting their Belfast headquarters on Friday.

The DUP leader’s intervention comes in the same week that both Kwasi Kwarteng and Theresa May hit out at the Scottish First Minister over her ongoing independence push, with the Prime Minister calling her ‘out of touch’ with the mood of the electorate, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies claimed that the SNP’s much-vaunted new report on independence was a blueprint for years of austerity.

Meanwhile the Scottish Conservatives accused the Nationalists of putting independence ahead of governing after the Scottish Fiscal Commission announced a £1.7 billion downgrade in its tax projections.

Gibraltarian leader signs petition calling for Westminster representation

Fabian Picardo QC, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, has joined more than 9,200 people in putting his name to a petition calling for the Rock to be granted representation in Parliament.

At present Gibraltar only votes as part of the United Kingdom during European elections, when it is part of the South West constituency. According to the Daily Express the Government is likely to try to adopt the same model for Westminster, with the territory sharing an MP with Cornwall.

However, this seems difficult to justify in light of the fact that the Western Isles have their own constituency despite lying only a few miles from the British mainland, despite having a smaller population than Gibraltar.

Not only would the move help to address a representational imbalance, but it would also help to strengthen the UK’s bond to Gibraltar and bring the relationship more closely into line with modern international norms. As campaigners have noted, other European countries – especially France – have numerous territories across the globe which are permitted to vote in national elections.