Just in time for the weekend, here’s a look at the top 10 political must-reads from the last seven days:
1. Willie Rennie stepping down as Scottish Lib Dem leader
We broke the story this week that the long-time leader of the Scottish Lib Dems is planning to step down. Willie Rennie, who has served for more than a decade in the leadership role, steered his party through two referenda, three general elections, two Holyrood elections, two European elections and two local council votes. As Paul Malik reports, plaudits poured in from his political contemporaries, and we put together a picture gallery of some of the photo-ops he’s famous for on the campaign trail. Read more here.
2. Holyrood recalled for Covid debate
Parliament was recalled this week – with many MSPs appearing virtually – for an update on the coronavirus situation from the first minister. As Adele Merson reports, Ms Sturgeon confirmed the country will move to Level 0 of Covid lockdown restrictions from July 19 and defended her more cautious approach compared to England where restrictions are ending sooner. The first minister said the Scottish Government was choosing to do things at “a responsible pace, not an irresponsible pace”. Read the full story here.
3. Police to investigate SNP alleged donation fraud complaints
Police are investigating as many as seven complaints made against the SNP regarding an alleged dispute over donations. Officers of Police Scotland say they will now look further into complaints made surrounding alleged fraud allegations made earlier this year. Police are understood to have received reports earlier this year regarding an alleged “black hole”, with the party was accused of dipping into a £600,000 “war chest” earmarked to fund a second independence campaign. Read more about this story here.
4. Scottish Greens launch leadership campaign with no chance of change
The current co-leaders of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater are likely to stand unopposed in the party’s biennial leadership contest. As Rachel Amery reported this week, the incumbents – who were selected in 2019 – are all but certain to be anointed again at the end of the month, as nobody has so far emerged to challenge them. And why would they? The Harvie-Slater ticket delivered the Greens their biggest Holyrood election wins to date. Read more here.
5. Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ plan dismissed as ’empty rhetoric’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a major speech this week, but hopes of rebooting his “levelling up” plan for the nation fell flat after union bosses, businesses and MPs branded the idea “empty rhetoric”. Our Westminster Correspondent Dan O’Donoghue said Mr Johnson’s speech in the West Midlands ended up being little more than a rehashed press release, sewn together with tired rhetorical flourishes and buzzwords. Read more here.
6. Welcome to Scotland? Nicola Sturgeon considers signs at the border
Nicola Sturgeon said this week she’ll consider having signs at the border between Scotland and England to remind visitors of the different coronavirus restrictions. The first minister says she’ll think about having Scotland’s restrictions and rules displayed on electronic roadside signs so drivers coming north over the border will be better informed. Read more here.
7. Scots MSP claims Covid trial participants have been ‘penalised’
A north-east MSP who took part in a Covid trial says governments must take urgent action to help participants prove their vaccination status. More than 430 people from the NHS Grampian area are taking part in the UK-wide study for the Novavax jab to combat coronavirus. Douglas Lumsden, Scottish Conservative MSP for the north-east region, who is one of the trial’s volunteers, has been unable to get any proof of his vaccination status. He is pressing both the UK and Scottish governments to resolve the situation, which he claims has “punished” those taking part. Read more here.
8.‘Bloody disgrace’: Ruth Davidson furious after all Scots Tory MPs vote for Boris Johnson’s international aid cuts
Ruth Davidson has branded Boris Johnson’s decision to slash overseas aid “a bloody disgrace”. MPs voted by a majority of 35 to back the reduced level of aid funding and a new test which critics have warned could mean spending never returns to its target of 0.7% of gross national income. Twenty four Tories, including former prime minister Theresa May and five other ex-cabinet ministers, condemned the decision – saying it would cost lives. All six Scottish Tory MPs backed Mr Johnson’s plan. Read the full story at this link.
9. Anas Sarwar compares Nicola Sturgeon with Boris Johnson
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says Nicola Sturgeon is an “us versus them” politician in the same mould as Boris Johnson. Mr Sarwar made the comments to reporters on a visit to Westminster this week, as he called on Labour Party members across Britain to unite to “defeat the us versus them” politics on show in London and Edinburgh. Read more here.
10. SNP MP apologises over bizarre late night ‘Nazi’ Twitter rant
An SNP MP has apologised unreservedly after claiming that “murdering babies wasn’t on the Nazi manifesto” in a tweet described by opposition parties as “factually inaccurate and massively insensitive”. As Derek Healey reports, SNP bosses have been urged to take action after Glenrothes and Central Fife MP Peter Grant made the remark on Thursday night in response to a post from broadcaster Andrew Neil which referenced the holocaust. Read our full story here.