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It is no surprise that Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, is at the forefront of the growing band of Tory MPs in open revolt against Boris Johnson over the ‘partygate’ affairs.

He did, after all, originally resign from the Government when the Prime Minister fought to keep Dominic Cummings in post after the Barnard Castle incidence (only to lose him in a courtier power-struggle over… the appointment of Allegra Stratton).

Even without that aggravating factor, there has never been much love between Johnson and the Scottish wing of the party, where he is near-universally viewed as a drag on their fortunes.

Perhaps more interesting is that he has also refused to back the Government’s proposals for vaccine passports. It makes sense; the Scottish Tories have been firmly opposed to the Scottish Government’s scheme. But it will only highlight that ‘Plan B’ seems to consist mostly of measures already in place in other parts of the UK – to little effect.

Donaldson reiterates threat to collapse Stormont

Sir Geoffrey Donaldson has once again warned that the future of Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions could be in doubt if “major changes” to the Northern Irish Protocol aren’t secured, according to the News Letter.

The paper reports the Democratic Unionist leader as saying that: “If the prime minister fails to act to safeguard the political institutions, then it will fall to my party to take all steps necessary to bring this issue to a head.”

Is the danger real? Donaldson’s opponents don’t seem convinced. The DUP might be unionist but it is not integrationist; bring the Assembly down over an intractable problem such as the Protocol and it might never come back. Sinn Fein generally stick to demands they can wring out of hapless Northern Irish Secretaries looking for good headlines.

But the fact that Donaldson himself is a Westminster MP could be a crucial variable: if Stormont does collapse, he won’t lose his parliamentary platform. Indeed Parliament (where Sinn Fein refuse to take their seats) will become even more important.

Ian Paisley Jr has also warned that the Prime Minister risks the break-up of the United Kingdom if he and Lord Frost are unable to secure real reform. The Sun also reports that there are “growing Cabinet concerns that the PM has ‘gone wobbly'”, following an apparent climbdown from the Government’s previously pugnacious position on triggering Article 16.

At the same time, ministers have rejected American efforts to link the lifting of steel tariffs to a resolution of the Protocol dispute. According to the FT, Penny Mordaunt dismissed the connection as a ‘false narrative’ in the House of Commons. The UK has instead threatened to impose tariffs on a wider range of American products, according to today’s papers.

Sturgeon faces backlash as Jack backs North Sea oil

Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to bring the Greens into her administration (sort of) was always going to require some concessions, even if the smaller party very often seem willing to function simply as SNP auxiliaries at Holyrood.

But she now faces a backlash from business groups after failing to back drilling in the Cambo oilfield after Shell, which had a 30 per cent stake in the project pulled out. From the Times:

“Reports over the weekend suggested that one of the reasons for Shell’s decision was a lack of enthusiasm or vocal backing for the project in Westminster after Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, stated her opposition.”

Perhaps in response, Alister Jack has come out of the blocks with strong support for the development. The Secretary of State points out that even in the event of a successful transition to Net Zero, fossil fuels will still be required for essential industries such as petrochemicals.

It also won’t hurt that North East Scotland, the heart of the oil and gas industry, is one of the Scottish Tories’ strongest regions and would be the most seriously affected by the job losses that would have to accompany a shuttering of the sector.