FMQs halted as protester interrupts Scottish Parliament after Sturgeon’s IndyRef2 failure

A protester forced First Minister’s Questions in Scotland to be suspended this afternoon after shouting from the public gallery.

Nicola Sturgeon was answering questions from backbench MSPs when the outburst brought a sudden stop to proceedings.

The heckling occurred as the SNP’s Stephanie Callaghan was asking a question regarding yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict on IndyRef2.

The MSP had barely risen to her feet before the protester started speaking. The disturbance caught the attention of all those in the Chamber, interrupting proceedings.

Presiding officer Alison Johnstone announced that she was suspending business “for a moment” while the incident was dealt with.

A live video stream of the Chamber was then muted while the member of the public was kicked out of the Chamber.

It is unclear exactly what the protestor was demonstrating against.

They could be heard shouting that something was “completely unacceptable” before the video feed’s audio was cut off.

Just before they stated their protest, Ms Sturgeon had accused Unionists of attempting to “silence Scotland’s voice”.

She said: “Unionist Westminster politicians want to silence Scotland’s voice because they’re scared of what Scotland might say. It is quite simple.

“Any politician confident of their case and confident of being able to persuade others of their case would not be trying to block democracy, they would be embracing democracy.

“So I think we know everything we need to know about the views of Westminster unionists parties, by their determination to block Scotland’s democracy. But it will not prevail.”

More to follow…

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  • 3 часа, 53 минуты назад 09.12.2022Politics
    SNP MP claims ‘if we hadn’t shut our borders’ with Brexit the NHS would be better

    Former SNP Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie fumed at the impact of Brexit on NHS staffing levels during Question Time in Bishop Auckland on Thursday. The Dundee East MP raged that “maybe if we hadn’t shut our borders” fewer NHS staff from overseas would have gone home meaning there would be fewer unfilled vacancies across the health service.

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    The former SNP Deputy Westminster leader added that many working people were now experiencing the highest levels of inflation in their lifetimes.

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    “They’ve never seen the erosion of their salaries like that in their lives.”

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    He said: “The one thing that strikes me, is that most people who are balloting to strike do not want to go on strike.

    “They just want the Government to negotiate with them.

    “I have to say, I support the right to strike if the Government won’t negotiate a fair deal.

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    “What about the teachers who went on strike today and yesterday”? host Fiona Bruce asked referencing walkouts by members of the EIS union.

    Mr Hosie responded that SNP ministers in Holyrood were willing to negotiate with unions in sharp contrast to their Tory counterparts in Westminster therefore making a settlement more likely.

    He said: “The teachers and the nurses, those negotiations are ongoing but therein lines the thing. The ministers are actually negotiating.

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  • 9 часов, 52 минуты назад 09.12.2022Politics
    Boris has ‘no interest being leader of Opposition’ as poll shows Tories are still behind

    Conservative MPs are already looking for a replacement for Rishi Sunak on the assumption that they cannot avoid defeat in the next election. This comes as the latest tracker poll has given the Tories a two point boost but still leaving them 21 percent behind Labour.

    A former cabinet minister told Express.co.uk: “There is no avoiding defeat. The only question is whether we can limit the damage.

    “We need to avoid a 1997 result or worse.”

    In 1997 the Tories under John Major suffered the worst defeat in their history.

    A massive victory for Labour under Tony Blair saw the Conservatives wiped out in Scotland and Wales leaving them with just 165 seats losing more than half the constituencies they won in 1992.

    The latest Techne UK poll for Express.co.uk gives Labour 48 percent (down one) and the Conservatives 27 (up one).

    If the Techne poll played out in an election it would leave the Conservatives in a worse place than 1997 with 121 seats.

    Meanwhile, Labour would have a majority of 226 seats.

    The former cabinet minister, who is a close ally of Mr Johnson, said that the prospect of unavoidable defeat was now playing into the calculations about whether he tries to make another comeback.

    The senior MP said: “Boris does not want to be leader of the Opposition. He has no interest in that.”

    The former minister added: “He knows his one chance to come back was when Liz Truss stepped down.

    “He had the numbers but for his own reasons he did not want to go ahead with it.

    “We (Tory MPs) know that we cannot change prime minister for a third time, voters just would not accept it.

    “The next election will be a disaster if we do that.

    “The question is what we do after the election in opposition.”

    There is currently a campaign to push for Me Johnson to return.

    But most MPs believe it is either too late or would be catastrophic.

    Former chairman Jake Berry and former Treasurer Lord Cruddas are both understood to be behind the push.

    There is also a concern that Richard Tice’s Reform UK, previously the Brexit Party, is taking Tory votes.

    Reform is polling at 5 percent in the tracker poll but taking 11 percent of Leave voters from 2016 and 7 percent of Conservative from 2019.

    There are fears that if Nigel Farage makes a comeback their vote share will be even higher.

    Techne chief executive Michela Morizzo said: “This week our regular tracker poll sees the Labour vote share drop by 1 point to 48 points with the Conservatives gaining a point and moving to 27 percentage points nationally.

    “Even with this 2 point swing from Labour to Conservatives Rishi Sunak’s Government has little festive cheer. NHS operation waiting numbers have exceeded this week for the first time 7 million patients on a list for treatment and many public sector workers are either already on strike or considering strike action.

    “These are bleak mid-winter times for the Conservative Party and there is no doubt that an easy and quick way back into contention with Labour still seems a far and distant prospect at this time.”

  • 9 часов, 52 минуты назад 09.12.2022Politics
    MP’s fury as he loses Tory whip over assault claims

    Julian Knight suggested he may be the target of a “campaign of rumour and innuendo” and said he would not participate in Parliament until the matter was resolved. He said yesterday: “I have heard nothing from the police, the Whips Office or Parliament’s internal grievance service, or been the subject of any investigation by the latter.

    “Nor have I ever been warned or spoken to by the Whips Office about any allegations of misconduct. I believe their withdrawal of the whip is wrong and unjustified.

    “Some months ago I accepted the resignation of a staff member following a full inquiry into his conduct regarding House of Commons security issues and, separately, allegations of bullying against him.

    “Subsequently, I have received what my lawyers advise are explicit threats involving blackmail. All matters are now with my lawyers.” A spokeswoman for Tory Chief Whip Simon Hart, who took the action, would not comment on the complaint.

    Mr Knight, 50 – chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee – has represented Solihull since 2015.

    The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that it had “received allegations of serious sexual assault against unnamed victims reported to have taken place on unknown dates at undisclosed locations.

    “On December 7 a further referral relating to the incident[s] was made and an investigation was launched. There have been no arrests.”

  • 13 часов, 52 минуты назад 08.12.2022Politics
    Matt Hancock’s constituency voted him unfit to represent them days before he stepped down

    Matt Hancock’s constituency voted that he is “not fit” to represent them before he announced he would be standing down as an MP. His association ruled no confidence in the MP on 30 November, three days after Mr Hancock came third in ITV’s ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ Yesterday, he announced he would be stepping down from Parliament at the next election, despite previous insistence from his spokesperson that he has “no intention” of doing so.

    In his letter to Rishi Sunak, he claimed the chief whip “made clear he would restore the whip in due course”, but said that would no longer be “necessary”.

    He said: “I am writing to tell you that I do not intend to stand for the Conservatives at the next General Election.”

    The MP continued: “It has been a huge honour to serve as Member of Parliament for West Suffolk over the past twelve years.

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    In his letter announcing that he would not be standing, Mr Hancock called on the Conservative party to “reconnect with the public”, adding: “There was a time when I thought the only way to influence the public debate was in Parliament, but I’ve realised there’s far more to it than that.

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  • 17 часов, 3 минуты назад 08.12.2022Politics
    3 numbers that show how Raphael Warnock won the Georgia runoff

    The blueprint for how Democrats can win Georgia is becoming clearer and clearer.

    In a year when Republicans won every other statewide race in Georgia in November, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock earned reelection in the once-red state in Tuesday’s Senate runoff, winning roughly 51.4 percent of the vote compared to 48.6 percent for GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

    After narrowly leading Walker on Election Day, Warnock narrowly improved on his margins across the state in the runoff. He was buoyed by strong enough turnout in the Atlanta area, particularly among Black voters. And he built up an advantage from early and mail voting that Republicans simply could not catch — a subject the GOP is belatedly addressing after its disappointing midterms.

    Here are the numbers that explain how the incumbent Democrat pulled it off.

    Georgia’s runoff results highlighted once again the recent partisan polarization of methods of voting. Since 2020, Republican leaders, including former President Donald Trump, have expressed skepticism of early and absentee voting methods — although a number of Republican leaders other than Trump appear to be rethinking that opposition after losses in Georgia and elsewhere.

    Democrats’ dominated both those types of voting during the runoff, with Warnock winning more than 58 percent support from those who cast their ballots either early or by mail. That reflected in part the demographic groups more likely to vote early: Black voters accounted for 31.8 percent of those who cast their ballots ahead of Election Day, several percentage points higher than in November.

    Despite records set in the first few days of early voting, there was still significantly less total early voting than in the January 2021 runoffs, when the early voting period was longer and overall turnout — including Election Day voting — topped 4.4 million, compared to only 3.5 million this year.

    But the early and absentee vote still allowed Warnock to build a lead of more than 320,000 votes, which Walker was unable to overcome on Election Day. The GOP nominee won the Election Day vote by around 225,000 votes, not enough to put him over the top.

    After trailing Warnock slightly in the November election that prompted the runoff, Walker either needed to shift turnout in his favor or improve his margins.

    He couldn’t do it. Walker’s share of the two-party vote improved in just 26 of the state’s 159 counties, according to a POLITICO analysis of unofficial results reported by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The counties where he managed to improve were largely small and rural — accounting for just 5 percent of total votes cast in the state — so Walker could not bank enough votes to offset Warnock’s gains elsewhere.

    That was always going to be tough without popular GOP Gov. Brian Kemp also on the ballot, though Kemp did jump into the runoff campaign following his reelection. Despite some split-ticket voting, Kemp’s win by a margin greater than 7 points likely helped keep Walker close in November.

    “Without a candidate like Brian Kemp who was so popular and so good at campaigning and getting people to the polls, it’s easy to see how Reverend Warnock would have made that 50 percent plus one needed to avoid a runoff,” said Jermaine House, a spokesperson with the progressive research firm HIT Strategies.

    The bottom didn’t fall out for Walker entirely. Despite a range of scandals and Democrats outspending the GOP 2-to-1 in the final weeks before the runoff, he still came within a few percentage points of victory. But he couldn’t make substantial improvements across the state after a disappointing Election Day, and that left him short of the majority.

    Statewide turnout in the runoff was roughly 89 percent of what it was in November, with more than 3.5 million voters casting ballots this time. High turnout does not inherently benefit one candidate or the other. But Walker, who had trailed slightly in the November election, needed relatively higher turnout in GOP-friendly counties compared to Democratic-leaning ones. That did not substantially materialize.

    Johnson County, Walker’s home turf in east central Georgia, was the only county that saw more ballots cast in December compared to November. But it did not work out to Walker’s benefit — Warnock actually increased his vote share there slightly.

    Most importantly for Warnock, Democratic strongholds in metro Atlanta saw relatively high turnout. In DeKalb County, turnout was higher than the state average. It was slightly lower in Clayton and Fulton counties, but Warnock improved his margin slightly in both, offsetting turnout losses.

  • 17 часов, 52 минуты назад 08.12.2022Politics
    Powers to crack down on migrants fast-tracked as Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights shelved

    Migrant legislation has been fast-tracked, with the Government reportedly shelving Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights in order to prioritise the legislation. It is understood to be unlikely that Mr Raab’s Bill, which overhauls the Human Rights Act, will go through Parliament as a whole, with the Government opting to prioritise more limited legislation instead. There were concerns that the Bill would take too long and could be heavily amended.

    As a result, the Prime Minister told Mr Raab that the Bill would be “deprioritised” in order to address the Channel issue faster instead.

    But sources close to the Justice Secretary told Mail+ Mr Raab is still “100 percent committed” to the Bill of Rights, saying it remains “one of Dom’s top priorities”.

    Some parts of the Bill are likely to be incorporated into small boats legislation, while other elements could be added to different legislation in order to see them get through both houses quicker.

    If the Bill is dropped, this will be the third time Mr Raab’s legislation has been scrapped.

    Instead, ministers are expected to press ahead with plans to make it easier to deport foreign criminals by restricting the circumstances in which their right to family life would trump public safety.

    Increased powers to deport migrants are outlined in the Bill, which Mr Raab said would help the UK “escape the straitjacket of EU laws”.

    Speaking to the Justice Select Committee last month, Mr Raab said: “I don’t think its right that we have effectively straitjacket legislation coming in through the back door via a court.”

    He said that if the UK continues to “gold plate” the approach taken by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Britain will be “unable to deport serious foreign national offenders”.


    The Justice Secretary criticised the application of the Human Rights Act, saying: “The obvious one is the deportation of foreign national offenders.

    “I think the use of Article 8, for example, the right to family, by foreign national offenders to frustrate deportation orders is wrong.

    “If we gold plate the approach that Strasbourg takes we are going to be unable to deport serious foreign national offenders.

    “Some 70 percent of successful human rights appeals against deportation are still Article 8.”

    But Mr Raab caveated his criticism warning that the UK should never “send someone back to the arms of a torturing state”, pledging that “the prohibition on torture is absolute, even pulling out of the ECHR”.

    Announcing the plans for the Bill of Rights, the Justice Secretary said it would “curb abuses of the system and inject a bit more common sense into human rights law.”

    He said the legislation would “make crystal clear that the UK Supreme Court is not subordinate to the European Court of Human Rights”.

    Home Secretary Suella Braverman has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to deal with the small boats problem in the Channel.

    She pledged to “comprehensively” tackle the issue.

    The latest migration statistics show that net migration rose to 504,000 in the year to June 2022.

    This is an increase from pre-Brexit immigration levels, with most of the migrants coming from non-EU countries.

    Net migration for the year ending June 2015 – the year before the UK voted to leave the EU – was 336,000.

    The statistics also show that there are still 9,242 Afghan refugees in hotels, more than 15 months after the evacuation.

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Politics FMQs halted as protester interrupts Scottish Parliament after Sturgeon's IndyRef2 failure