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The Pagoda Perspective 27.03.17

27th March 2017

BREXIT/INDEPENDENCE

  • Theresa May will meet with Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to Scotland today, however the timing of a second independence referendum will not be on the agenda. Theresa May will instead pledge to strengthen the union between Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • Article 50 will be triggered this Wednesday, kick-starting talks aimed at agreeing a Brexit deal with the EU. The government will then publish its Great Repeal Bill on Thursday.
  • Almost nine out of ten small and medium-sized businesses do not want a second independence referendum, according to a survey conducted by a Scottish-based accountancy firm, French Duncan.
  • Sir George Mathewson, the former Royal Bank of Scotland boss who played a key role in the last Scottish independence referendum campaign, has broken ranks with Nicola Sturgeon, warning that a separate Scotland should not join the European Union.

NORTHERN IRELAND

  • As the 4pm deadline to restore devolution in Northern Ireland approaches, Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Fein, has announced the party will not be nominating a deputy first minister today. The options facing Secretary of State, James Brokenshire,include fresh elections, direct rule from Westminster or playing for time in the hope some compromise can be found.

ECONOMY

  • The Aberdeen-based oil services company, Wood Group, has secured a £40m contract to deliver energy services to two North Sea platforms.
  • RBS has announced a further 30 Scottish branch closures, adding to the dozens closed since 2015. It is expected 176 full-time posts will be affected.

TOURISM

  • Scotland’s leading visitor attractions are outperforming the rest of the UK. Visitor numbers were up 15.6% across Scotland, compared to the UK average of 7.2%.

MEDIA

  • Home secretary, Amber Rudd, has vowed to “call time” on internet firms who give terrorists “a place to hide”. Whatsapp, Facebook, Google, and other online firms have been summoned to the Home Office this Thursday for talks.

TRANSPORT

  • ScotRail passenger growth has stalled for the first time in 14 years. Abellio, the franchise operator, is understood to view this as a temporary setback caused by extensive engineering work.
  • The opening of the new £1.35 billion Queensferry Crossing may not be on course for the revised May completion date, just 10 weeks away.
  • A survey by watchdog Transport Focus has revealed passenger satisfaction with Lothian Buses has reached a four-year low.
  • First Group has been awarded the South West Trains (SWT) franchise along with MTR, the operator of Hong Kong Metro. First MTR will operate SWT, one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, for seven years.

COMING UP

  • Scotland’s Futures Forum, the Scottish Parliament’s in-house think tank, will launch its Scotland 2030 programme later this week. (Wednesday 29 March)
  • The Scottish Parliament will conclude its debate on a second independence referendum on Tuesday. It is expected that with support from the Greens, the SNP will pass a motion to ask Westminster for a section 30 order, which would grand an independence referendum.