Soubry calls for government of ‘national unity’ – with separatists

I have written before about how Remainers have somehow managed to keep their ‘for the good of the Union’ schtick going in the face of mounting evidence that – as predicted on this site – Brexit is the real threat to separatist hopes.

Anna Soubry has taken this to the next level of absurdity this morning, however, with a call for the formation of a cross-party ‘government of national unity’ to help deliver (trans. ‘thwart’) our departure from the European Union. She said: “I would encompass Plaid Cymru, the SNP and other sensible, pragmatic people who believe in putting this country’s interests first and foremost.”

In what sense do Plaid and the SNP believe in ‘putting this country’s interests first and foremost’, exactly?’ Neither of them believe in ‘this country’ at all, and the Scottish Nationalists at least are a committed and plausible threat to its continued existence.

There is one reason and one reason only that they’re part of Soubry’s soft Brexit caucus, and that’s because they recognise that the European Union, with its guaranteed high floor of ongoing relations, is crucial to making Scottish independence saleable. Soubry et al should be pressed on why they are willing to jeopardise the British Union for the sake of the European.

May once again rules out ‘hard border’ in Ulster visit

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Prime Minister is going to reiterate her opposition to a hard border on a visit to the Province today.

After joining Karen Bradley, the Northern Irish Secretary, to meet local business leaders Theresa May will deliver a speech in Belfast on Friday. In it, she will set out how the White Paper addresses Ulster’s unique circumstances. May is reportedly also set to meet local political parties in the latest effort to break the deadlock in talks to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In other Northern Irish news, Gerry Adams has spoken out after his house and that of another former Sinn Fein leader were “attacked with explosive devices” this week.

This followed more than a week of consecutive violence in Londonderry, where the Protestant Fountain estate had come under sectarian attacks which the Financial Times claims are putting the Belfast Agreement ‘under pressure’.

Meanwhile south of the border, Leo Varadkar has reportedly stepped up preparations for ‘no deal’ as Dominic Raab and Michel Barnier meet to discuss the Irish border.

Williamson to compensate Scottish soldiers for SNP tax hikes

The Defence Secretary has announced that the Government will spend £4 million a year compensating soldiers garrisoned in Scotland for the higher taxes imposed by the SNP, according to the Scotsman.

Around 8,000 affected soldiers will have their incomes topped up from London so that their overall tax burden remains in line with servicemen and women in other parts of the UK. The Scottish Government complained that it wasn’t consulted.

DUP’s Paisley suspended and under pressure to quit

With the Parliamentary arithmetic currently razor-thin, the last thing the Government needs is to lose another allied MP. Yet Ian Paisley Jr, a Democratic Unionist, has been suspended from the Commons for 30 days – and the Sun warns that there may be a by-election.

He is facing mounting calls to resign his North Antrim seat after the parliamentary standards authorities found him guilty of ‘serious misconduct’ for accepting two paid-for holidays from the Sri Lankan government without declaring them, according to the Belfast Telegraph. He then lobbied David Cameron, the Prime Minister, over a UN resolution concerning the country.

North Antrim is a very safe unionist seat, so in the event that Paisley resigns (or is recalled) the DUP are very likely to retain it. But it could still leave the Government one vote down during crucial parliamentary battles over Brexit.

Welsh Assembly to rebrand as ‘Welsh Parliament’

The Welsh Assembly is going to bestow upon itself a grand new title before the 2020 elections, according to Wales Online, in a move which may be a precursor to further far-reaching changes.

Amongst the other proposals being considered by the Assembly Commission, the devolved legislature’s ruling body, are lowering the voting age to 16, changing the voting system, and (inevitably) a big increase in the number of legislators.

Unlike other devolved systems such as the US or Germany, where the centre at least maintains constitutional uniformity across the various devolved institutions, the British Government has largely abdicated this responsibility.

In other news Carwyn Jones, the outgoing First Minister, has declared that his administration will not get so distracted by Brexit that it won’t deliver its actual legislative agenda. The BBC reports that his priorities include a ban on smacking children and introducing votes at 16 for local elections.