As MPs and MSPs return...

Sturgeon plugs ‘tale of two governments’ amid Boris backlash

Protestors converged on Downing Street

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will this week attempt to show that it is “business as usual” at Holyrood as Prime Minister Boris Johnson brings the shutters down on the Commons.

Her message of “a tale of two governments” will underpin her Programme for Government on Tuesday and follows a series of demonstrations across the UK against Mr Johnson’s decision to suspend the UK Parliament for 23 working days in the run-up to Brexit.

Protesters took to the streets in cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds and Manchester. In Oxford, crowds holding banners gathered outside Balliol College, where Mr Johnson studied at university.

The Prime Minister stoked the political fires further by warning Tory MPs not to rebel against the government over Brexit, as opposition MPs plan legislation to stop no deal. Any Tory MP who fails to vote with the government will lose the party whip meaning they will effectively be expelled from the party and would not be able to stand as a Conservative candidate in an election.

Chancellor Sajid Javid defended the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament. In a radio interview he said: “It’s quite usual this time of year for Parliament to go in to a recess. It’s perfectly correct and appropriate to prorogue Parliament.

“I think it’s absolutely right that this prime minister and his government get the chance to set up their agenda.”

Mr Javid is preparing to use his first major set-piece as Chancellor on Wednesday to confirm large increases in public spending which will mean budget rises for the NHS, schools and the police in England. Mr Javid is likely to use the spending round to declare that a decade of austerity is coming to an end. His statement will be scrutinised for “consequentials” that will imply more spending opportunities for Scotland.

Mr Javid also played down an alleged row with Mr Johnson over the sacking of one of his special advisers, Sonia Khan, by the prime minister’s senior aide Dominic Cummings, over government leaks. On Thursday, Ms Khan was escorted from Downing Street by police after her security clearance was withdrawn.

On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon will put climate change at the heart of her Programme for Government with environmental factors featuring in 14 new Bills for the coming year alongside a number of other non-legislative announcements.

In addition to confirming the next steps to achieve net zero emissions, it will set out how the Scottish Government will build a “fair and green economy”.

Describing the current political crisis at Westminster as “unprecedented and deeply troubling”, Ms Sturgeon said: “The UK Government’s one-track obsession with Brexit has left them completely incapable of focusing on vital issues such as tackling inequality and climate change.

“The Tories have dragged the into UK a democratic and constitutional crisis, and – if they do not urgently change course – we face the real prospect of an economic crisis.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “This year’s ambitious programme for government will embody what is very much a tale of two governments – while the government in Holyrood is stepping up to tackle the vital issues facing both Scotland and the world, Westminster is quite literally shutting down.”

This year’s Programme for Government will set out our next steps on how we will lead by example through bold actions

– Nicola Sturgeon

Her critics are likely to hit back by accusing her of a one-track obsession with independence. The Tories will point out that while the Commons will be shutting for longer than usual, the UK government will be preparing its own legislative programme to be revealed in the Queen’s Speech on 14 October.

Ms Sturgeon will insist that her government is taking the lead on tackling the big issues of the day.

“Scotland was one of the first countries to acknowledge that we are facing a global climate emergency – and our climate change targets are already world-leading. But we must redouble our efforts to meet them,” she said in a statement issued today.

“That is why this year’s Programme for Government will set out our next steps on how we will lead by example through bold actions, cutting across all parts of government, to tackle climate change.

“These actions simply cannot be left to others. The consequences of global change will be severe – and for some parts of the world, they will be existential. We must act.”    

She added: “The Programme for Government will also focus on continuing to build a successful and fair economy which reduces inequality, improves quality of life and supports and benefits everyone in society.

“But it cannot be stressed enough – while we are doing everything we can to move Scotland forward, the threat to our economy and our society from the right-wing Brexiteer cabal occupying Downing Street cannot be mitigated away.

“Events in the last few days, weeks and months have simply highlighted the need for the people of Scotland to have a say on their future – and the option of a better future offered by independence.”

Boris bounce puts Tories ahead

There has been a surge of bets for the Conservative party to win the next General Election in recent days and the party is now just 1-3 (from 1-2) to win the most seats, and 11-8 (from 13-8) to win by a majority outcome, according to Star Sports bookmakers.

Labour, who were the favourites only a couple of months ago, have drifted to 7-2 (from 5-2) to win the most seats and to 14-1 (from 8-1) to win by a majority decision. 

Boris Johnson has lifted the Tories in the polls

Star has also seen plenty of betting business on the year and month of the next election, with 2019 being the popular selection in recent days at 4-9, and 2020 9-4. An October election has been backed into 5-2 (from 7-2) 

The biggest bet taken by the bookmaker was a £25,000 at 1-2 (returns £37,500) on the Tories to win and £8,000 at 13-8 on a Tory majority (returns (£21,000)

“Despite the recent summer break by parliament members, the betting interest has never been busier,” said Star’s spokesman, Gary Burton. “We’ve taken a lot of bets, with more than 75% of them placed on the Conservatives to come out on top”

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