Scottish International Trade Outperforming The Rest Of The UK

Figures released recently by HMRC show that Scotland is outperforming the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to imports and exports.

In the year to the end of September 2018 Scotland exported £29.6 Billion worth of goods to countries abroad compared to £27.9 Billion in the previous year, a rise of 6.1%.

In contrast the UK as a whole showed only a 4% increase from £322.8 Billion to £335.6 Billion. Read more

Explained: How New Pension Credit Rules Could Cost Couples Up To £7286 Per Year

At 7:20pm on Monday night, under the cloak of everything going on with the Meaningful Vote debate, the Department for Work and Pensions sneaked out an announcement that the eligibility rules for couples wishing to claim Pension Credits would change from May 15th this year.

Under the current rules a couple can apply for Pension Credits once the older partner in the relationship reaches retirement age. The new rules mean that the couple would not be entitled to Pension Credits until both partners had reached retirement age.

Pension Credits are a benefit that tops up a pensioner’s income to a certain amount. In the case of a couple this amount (from April) will be £255.25 per week, meaning the couple would be guaranteed a minimum income of £13,273 per year. Read more

Meaningful Vote: What Exactly Are MPs Voting on?

UPDATE: The speaker has announced that Amendments a, k, b & f will provisionally be voted on tonight (you can find the text of these in the article below). The procedure will be as follows:

  1. Amendment (a) in the name of Jeremy Corbyn will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (a) will be voted on. If Corbyn’s amendment is defeated we move on to step 2…
  2.  Amendment (k) in the name of Ian Blackford will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (k) will be voted on. If this amendment is defeated we move on to step 3…
  3. Amendment (b) in the name of Sir Edward Leigh will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (b) will be voted on. If this amendment is defeated we move on to step 4…
  4. Amendment (f) in the name of John Baron will be voted on and if passed the original motion as amended by Amendment (f) will be voted on. If this amendment is defeated we move on to step 5…
  5. The original PM’s motion as is will be voted upon.

Original Article Below:

Finally the historic day of the “Meaningful Vote” is upon us, but what are MPs actually going to be voting on tonight?

The original motion as laid down by the Prime Minister reads:

“That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’ and the framework for the future relationship laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Political Declaration
setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom’.”

However in today’s Parliamentary Order Paper there are 13 amendments tabled to the Prime Minister’s motion and I will detail them below. How many of these get to be voted on is a decision for the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, to decide. He is free to choose as many of them as he likes and will announce his decision at the beginning of the debate this afternoon. Read more

GE2017 Candidate Spending

Because of one thing and another this post has taken a few months to finally see the light of day but finally you can find out how much every candidate in Scotland spent on campaigning at the General Election in 2017.

These figures are for candidate spending which is spending where a candidate authorises campaigning to promote them at an election. For example, leaflets, billboard advertising, websites and campaign staff costs.

The figures do not include party campaign spending which is spending authorised by a party to promote the party and its policies generally. For example, national newspaper adverts for the party, or leaflets explaining party policy. It also includes spending on promoting candidates at elections where the party nominates a list of candidates for a region, rather than individual candidates for local areas. Unfortunately there is not a feasible way to break this down by Constituency given information available.

Also make sure you check down to the bottom of the article to see why I reported the Liberal Democrats to the Electoral Commission over their candidate spending returns. Read more

What Next For May’s Brexit Deal?

This afternoon the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons in which she said “we intend to return to the Meaningful Vote debate in the week commencing 7th January and hold the vote the following week”. As is usual procedure the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, will set out the exact dates and the time allowed for the debate on Thursday morning.

As you will know the vote was originally scheduled for last Tuesday but was postponed by the Prime Minister at the last moment as she knew she was facing a massive defeat for her Brexit deal.

As things stand today I predict that if the vote were to be held tomorrow the PM would lose by 419 votes to 220.

Now if you are reading carefully you will notice I bolded the words “intend to” from the PM’s quote. One has to wonder why that particular wording was used instead of “will”? While I was live Tweeting during her statement I was of the mind that given what has gone before that the vote would have to take place no matter what but having researched further I’m of the opinion that this may not be the case (more on that later). Read more

Victory For The Scottish Government In The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court this morning delivered its judgement on a claim by the UK Attorney General that the Scottish Parliament acted outwith its “legislative competence” when it passed The European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill back in March this year.

The case was heard before Justices Lady Hale (President), Lord Reed (Deputy President), Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge and Lord Lloyd-Jones in July and it has taken 5 months for a judgement to be arrived at.

For the main part the court found in favour of the Scottish Government: Read more

SNP & Plaid Cymru Get Serious About Brexit

As we enter day 4 of the European Withdrawal debate, we have a new amendment tabled by the SNP and Plaid Cymru against the motion.

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The Act of Union Bill 2018

UPDATE March 28th 2019: As of today this Bill still does not have a date set for its second reading in the House of Lords and is very much a non-goer.

Tomorrow (Tuesday October 9th, 2018) will see the First Reading of a Private Peers Bill in the House of Lords entitled Act of Union Bill. In this article I will attempt to explain the contents of the Bill to you and what it could mean for Scotland. Read more