Nicola Sturgeon only claims she offers “serious leadership” to Scotland
Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned that plans to hold a second Scottish independence referendum in the near future risked dividing the UK at “the worst possible time”.
Days away from the Holyrood election, Mr Sunak urged voters to reject calls for UK independence as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
It came as the Scottish National Party (SNP) was on track to grab a slim majority in this week’s crucial election, with Nicola Sturgeon suggesting that only she could offer ‘serious leadership’ to Scotland.
A majority SNP victory would present a political nightmare for Boris Johnson by firmly bringing the issue of Scottish independence to the forefront of British politics.
Ms Sturgeon said on Sunday her opponents “were vying for second place [and] openly saying that they have no plan for the government ”.
Tories face ‘tough fight’ to win Hartlepool by-election, PM says
Boris Johnson said the Tories face a “tough fight” to win Hartlepool in a much-anticipated by-election this week.
During a visit to a constituency fish and chip restaurant, the prime minister was asked if he wondered whether interest in his childcare or renovating his apartment might affect the vote.
“I always believed it would be a tough fight and I still believe it is,” Mr Johnson said.
When asked if he was concerned about having a negative effect on the election, he added, “I think people will focus on the issues that matter to them.
“It’s the vaccine rollout, the chances of our economy rebounding really strongly in the second half of this year, what we’re doing to make sure that happens.”
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 2:15 p.m.
PM insists government is doing ‘all it can’ for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Boris Johnson insisted the UK was doing “all we can to defend the interests” of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after Iranian state television suggested Britain could repay a military debt of £ 400million to secure his release.
“There are two entirely separate issues,” Mr Johnson told reporters on a campaign visit to Hartlepool.
“We are of course making sure that we do everything we can to defend the interests of Nazanin and any very difficult double national cases that we have in Tehran.”
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 2:00 p.m.
Starmer: “I will take full responsibility for the election results”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would “take full responsibility for whatever the outcome” ahead of this week’s local and decentralized elections.
“I will take full responsibility for the results of this week’s election, I will take full responsibility for whatever the Labor Party does,” Sir Keir told reporters on a visit to Lewisham.
“We had a fantastic team of candidates and people, members and supporters, having conversations at the gates.
“We have a number of days left, but I will take full responsibility for whatever the outcome.”
The Labor leader also rejected suggestions that questions about Boris Johnson’s renovation of his Downing Street apartment and claims of “harassment” by the Tories were “party politics”.
“It is very good to see senior conservatives recognize the gravity of the situation the Prime Minister could find himself in and the implications of violating the ministerial code,” he said.
“In the last week or so, some people have said that holding the government, holding the prime minister to account, is sort of party policy.
“It shows that it is not – there is a shared need among all parties to uphold standards in the public service, and I think other senior conservatives should be doing the same now.
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 1:48 PM
PM prepares vacationers for disappointment returning from overseas trip
Boris Johnson has prepared holidaymakers for disappointment by warning that while ‘some openness’ to overseas travel is likely later this month, the government will be ‘cautious’ about the number of countries on the ‘green list’ without quarantine.
The Prime Minister added that the UK would risk “an influx of disease” if ministers lift all restrictions too soon.
Our Deputy Political Editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 1:35 p.m.
ICYMI: Johnson under pressure as UK voters back second independence referendum
Boris Johnson is under pressure to allow a second referendum on Scottish independence if the SNP wins a majority in Holyrood this week, as a poll found British voters believed it would be wrong to refuse a new ballot.
Some 41% of UK adults believe Mr Johnson should allow another vote within four years if there is a pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament, while only 33% oppose the idea, according to a BMG poll for The independent.
Our editor Whitehall, Kate Devlin, has the full story below:
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 1:22 PM
Sunak’s post-Covid budget will see ‘the return of conservative crippling austerity’, SNP says
SNP hit back at Rishi Sunak’s warning that it would be wrong to pursue a second referendum on Scottish independence, arguing that the chancellor’s post-Covid budget would lead to a return to ‘crippling conservative austerity’ .
“The SNP is focused on leading Scotland through the pandemic and in our recovery. In doing so, we will be faced with the question of who do we want to lead this recovery, ”SNP deputy chief Keith Brown said.
“We cannot trust the Tories to do the right thing for the Scottish economy. Rishi Sunak has already presented his post-Covid budget which will see a return to the Conservatives’ crippling austerity.
“Scotland has suffered for 10 years from Conservative cuts, which have pushed thousands of people into poverty and forced families to use food banks just to make sure they can get food on the table. We cannot afford to go back to another decade of austerity.
Mr Brown also claimed that the Chancellor had taken an ‘insulting attitude’ towards the needs of Scottish workers over delays in extending the holiday program last year.
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 12:54 PM
It may be a public holiday on Monday, but that hasn’t stopped some politicians from campaigning ahead of Thursday’s local and decentralized elections.
For example, you can find photos of Scottish chef Lib Dem Willie Rennie feeding penguins during a visit to Edinburgh Zoo below:
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 12:26 p.m.
New independence referendum would divide UK at ‘worst possible time’, says Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that plans for a second Scottish independence referendum will “needlessly divide” the UK at the “worst possible time” as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Sunak argued on Monday that Scotland was a ‘stronger nation’ because it was part of the UK before the Holyrood elections this week.
“The past 12 months have shown that in the darkest times, the four UK countries benefit from each other and our partnership,” he said.
“The undeniable truth is that Scotland is a stronger nation because it is part of the United Kingdom.”
The Chancellor added: ‘In this Scottish Parliament election, if you want your political leaders to focus on the things that matter to you and your family, you have to use your party list vote fishing for the Scottish Tories. “
Mr Sunak urged Scottish voters to focus on ’employment prospects for young people in Scotland’ rather than the possibility of independence from the UK.
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 12:07 p.m.
What is at stake in this week’s Scottish Parliament elections?
Thursday’s election in Holyrood could be crucial in determining Scotland’s future in the UK as the SNP pushes for an overall majority to validate calls for a second independence referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party is almost certain to become the biggest party once all the ballots have been counted, but gaining a majority in the Scottish Parliament of 129 seats is difficult due to the proportional representation system used to elect MPs .
A total of 73 constituency MPs will be dismissed in the election, with the remaining 56 coming from the regional list ballot, which is used to try to align the number of representatives of each party with its share of the vote.
Ms Sturgeon is urging voters to back her party with their two ballots, as Labor and Tories fight for second place and deny the SNP an overall majority.
If the SNP fails to secure a majority on its own, it is likely that the Greens will provide the MPs needed for a majority for independence in parliament.
There is also the possibility of electing more pro-independence MSPs from Alex Salmond’s new Alba party, but recent opinion polls have cast doubt on whether the party will attract enough support to win MSPs.
Additionally, Ms Sturgeon has made it clear that she will not be working with Mr Salmond if he is re-elected to Holyrood following a public row over how to deal with the sexual harassment allegations made against him.
Conrad DuncanMay 3, 2021 11:56 AM
Below are images of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s announcement about his candidacy for the DUP: