The BBC’s Philip Sim has posted an interesting thread on Twitter looking at Nicola Sturgeon’s options ahead of her statement today. It starts here.
Sim says that, with Sturgeon wanting to hold a referendum that would be legal, and that would deliver independence, her options are limited given the UK government’s refusal to consent to one. He says today’s announcement will be a rare example of one where the key items have not been briefed in advance.
Boris Johnson seems to have no qualms talking about the UK’s support for the rule of law (see 9.36am) even though last night parliament voted for the Northern Ireland protocol bill, which is widely seen as breaking international law. Our story about the vote is here.
The highlight of the debate was probably the speech from Theresa May, the former Conservative prime minister, who did an effective job demolishing the government’s argument that the “doctrine of necessity” in international law makes the bill legal.
The bill passed easily – by 295 votes to 221 – and none of the Conservative MPs who expressed doubts or opposition to the bill voted against it. But 72 Conservatives did not vote. Some of them may have been paired against the 36 Labour MPs who did not vote but the figures suggest several dozen actively abstained.
Boris Johnson thanked his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, for his support over the Ukraine crisis when they held a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in Germany this morning, No 10 said. A Downing Street spokesperson said:
The prime minister praised Prime Minister Kishida for his staunch support for the Ukrainian people in opposition to [Vladimir] Putin’s barbarism in Ukraine.
They agreed that the unity of thought between G7 leaders on this issue has strengthened Ukraine’s hand in the war and will continue to do so.
The prime minister underlined the UK’s support for rule of law and sovereignty everywhere in the world.
Democratic leaders must stand together in opposition to challenges to our values. The leaders agreed to continue to work to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The prime minister and Prime Minister Kishida agreed that the work the UK and Japan are doing together to develop the next generation of fighter planes is hugely valuable to our countries and will form the basis of UK-Japan co-operation for a generation to come.
Good morning. We’ve only just passed the six-year anniversary of the Brexit referendum – an extraordinarily divisive and epochal event that changed Britain fundamentally – and today we will get a speech putting another referendum firmly on the table. When the Scots voted to remain part of the UK eight years ago, the unionist campaign said voting no to independence was the only way to guarantee that Scotland would remain part of the EU. Two years later that promise was blown apart, even though Scotland voted decisively for remain, and ever since then the SNP has been planning actively for what social media calls IndyRef2.
In a speech to the Scottish parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, will explain how she wants to hold a vote in October next year. But with Westminster refusing to grant the permission that would make a proper independence referendum legally binding, a straight re-run of 2014 seems unlikely, and Strugeon is expected to set out instead plans for some form of alternative, perhaps consultative, referendum. Quite what this would achieve is not clear.
My colleague Archie Bland goes into this in detail in his First Edition briefing. Here is an extract.
One view is that if Labour wins the next election, the momentum behind independence is likely to dissipate somewhat, so it’s better to strike now. Perhaps more importantly, Severin Carrell, the Guardian’s Scotland editor, argues “it will shore the SNP up ahead of the next UK general election. Even if the economics are harder than they were a decade ago, it is helpful for them to argue that Scotland’s hopes of independence are being thwarted in Westminster.”
For a sense of how powerful a force independence is even in its absence, you only need to look at the SNP’s longstanding dominance in Scotland despite its inability to achieve its ultimate aim – so far, at least. “The history of the last 15 years is that the SNP very rarely loses in these situations,” Severin said. “It rarely gets everything it wants, but it gains something else.”
And here is the full briefing.
The opposition parties in Scotland have accused Sturgeon of wasting time on a divisive issue when she should be facing on the immediate problems facing Scotland.
Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said:
It is no surprise that Nicola Sturgeon is ramping up her efforts to sow division and strife when we see the chaos in her party and the failures of her government.
She says to listen to the people of Scotland – but she refuses to herself, forging ahead with an unwanted referendum and ignoring people’s desperate cries for help with the cost of living crisis.
And the Scottish Conservatives accused Sturgeon of “self-indulgence and irresponsibility”.
I will be covering the statement this afternoon, but there is plenty of other politics on too. Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson and other G7 leaders attend the final session of the G7 summit in Germany. Later he will travel to Madrid for the start of the Nato summit.
11am: Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, gives evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee.
11am: Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, gives evidence to the Commons business committee.
11.30am: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, takes questions in the Commons.
12.30pm: Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru leader at Westminster, proposed a 10-minute rule bill intended to ban politicians from lying.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
1.40pm: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, gives a speech at the RUSI annual Land Warfare conference.
2pm: Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee about governance in the light of the Greensill scandal
2.10pm: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, gives a speech to the Local Government Association conference in Harrogate.
2.20pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, gives a statement to MSPs about her plans for a referendum on the issue of Scottish independence.
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