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The Pagoda Perspective 10.04.2017

10th April 2017

BREXIT/INDEPENDENCE/DEVOLUTION

  • Fifty European politicians have said Scotland would be “most welcome” in Brussels if it voted for independence and decided to rejoin the EU. This follows comments made last week from senior MEPs that the country could enjoy a “relatively speedy” process to join.
  • While Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out a snap Holyrood election to end a stand-off with Theresa May over a second independence referendum, legal experts have suggested the First Minister could use a procedure to bring forward a bill on a second independence referendum without the UK Government’s consent – and then dare the Prime Minster to strike it down after it has been passed.
  • Pro-independent economist Jim Cuthbert has claimed that the new devolution settlement is “unstable” due to a lack of economic powers to match the tax responsibilities transferred to the Scottish Parliament. He believes that if the Governmentmakes the “wrong call” in the use of the new powers “it is likely to find itself on an accelerating path of relative economic decline”.

COUNCIL ELECTIONS

  • The Electoral Commission has enlisted social media app Snapchat in an attempt to encourage young voters to register for the local government elections. A new ‘geofilter’ has been launched to remind users to register before the Monday 17 Deadline.

TOURISM

  • Travel website TripAdvisor has struck a partnership deal with Scotland’s tourism agency which is hoped could boost the Scottish economy by £150m.

ECONOMY

  • The Bank of Scotland Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has revealed Scotland’s private sector economy was stagnant during March.
  • Labour has claimed that SNP leadership has cost Scotland £6.5 billion in missing growth. Figures produced for Labour from the House of Commons library suggest lost GDP growth amount to £3.5bn a year since 2013, or £6.5bn since 2011.
  • The latest economic commentary from the Fraser of Allander Institute suggests the UK is expected to outperform expectations with 1.8% growth in 2016. In Scotland, recent business surveys have started to show a pick-up in activity although overall conditions are still considered fragile.

FOOD & DRINK

  • Aberdeenshire-based BrewDog has raised £213m after selling a 22.3% stake to a US private equity firm. The sale now means that the firm is now worth more than £1bn.

ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY

  • Eight Environmental groups have joined forces to oppose Shell’s plans to decommission North Sea’s Brent oil field, claiming it could breach international law.
  • The number of workers in Scotland employed in the low carbon and renewables sector has risen to 58,500 in 2015, up from 43,500 in 2014.

HEALTH & WELFARE

  • The Scottish Medicines Consortium will announce today whether the HIV prevention drug, PrEP, will be available on the NHS in Scotland. If approved, Scotland would be the first part of the UK to provide the drug on the NHS.
  • Tam Baillie, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, has attacked the UK Government over “callous” benefit cuts and the introduction of the so-called ‘rape clause’, claiming changes to the system were being made even though ministers in Westminster were fully aware of the impact they will have in plunging more families and children into poverty.
  • The Scottish Government has awarded more than £1 million to voluntary organisations to help support and develop social and community care services in Scotland.
  • Consultation analysis of a questionnaire on the Scottish Health Survey has been published. The Scottish Government conducted the questionnaire in order to seek users’ views on the content of the Survey from 2018 onwards.

MEDIA

  • In his first trip to Europe since leaving office, Barack Obama is to address philanthropy and business leaders at a dinner in Edinburgh on May 26 at the EICC hosted by The Hunter Foundation.
  • Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover of Sky TV has been given the green light without conditions by EU regulators.
  • New audience data from STV’s local Glasgow and Edinburgh channels shows that a blank screen is one of the most watched shows, ahead of three episodes of the popular detective series Taggart.

COMING UP

  • Scottish Parliament is in recess until 17 April
  • The Commission on Parliamentary Reform meets at the Scottish Parliament today.
  • The deadline to apply for membership of the Lobbying Register Working Group has been extended to 12:00 on Wednesday 19 April.