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The Pagoda Perspective 19.06.2017

19th June 2017

BREXIT / INDEPENDENCE

  • The UK government will enter talks with the EU today, presenting a plan for a hard Brexit and arguing that no deal is better than a bad deal.
  • Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said there are “no circumstances” under which an independence referendum could be held before the Holyrood elections in 2021.
  • Nicola Sturgeon has accused Ruth Davidson of being a “one-trick pony” during last week’s FMQs, as she faced calls to drop plans for a second independence referendum.
  • Senior SNP figures have split over whether, or when, the party should press ahead with plans for a second independence referendum.

EDUCATION

  • The Scottish Government has set out “sweeping new powers” for schools as part of a shake-up of education. The reforms will see head teachers take responsibility for closing the attainment gap, choosing school staff and deciding curriculum content.

BUSINESS

  • A Motherwell-based engineering firm, MB Aerospace, has signed a $1bn (£780m) contract to provide flight engine parts to a US company.
  • According to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish business confidence has risen for the second consecutive quarter but still remains much lower than the UK average.
  • Scotland’s digital technology sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy overall in the years to 2024, a new report by Skills Development Scotland and the Digital Technologies Skills Group has claimed.
  • Shareholders will today vote on a £11bn merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management, which comes amid rising speculation it could foreshadow another merger with Scottish Widows.

HEALTH

  • Parents and medical staff involved in the Scottish Government’s pilot baby box scheme are split on whether the scheme should be universal or whether it should be limited to those on low incomes or first-time parents.
  • Labour has called on the First Minister to reveal any plans she has to involve global technology giant Apple in Scotland’s NHS, following a conversation the First Minister had with Apple CEO Tim Cook in April.

FOOD AND DRINK

  • Exports of Scotland’s food and drink have grown by more than 10% in a year. New figures show sales hit £1.2bn in the first three months of 2017, up £124m (11%) on the same period in 2016.
  • Food Standards Scotland has called for a ‘revolution’ on food sales, after new research found that supermarkets and other food retailers are fuelling Scotland’s obesity epidemic. The Scottish Grocers’ Federation has criticised the study.

TRANSPORT

  • Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has told MSPs he cannot give a “cast-iron guarantee” that a full electric train service would start on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line in December.
  • Passengers have awarded Edinburgh Trams a near-perfect 99 per cent approval rating, Transport Focus announced last Wednesday.
  • Edinburgh Airport has been named as the fifth worst airport in the world according to a survey from AirHelp.

COMING UP

  • The two-week Refugee Festival Scotland begins on Tuesday 20 June.
  • Stage 3 of the Air Departure Tax (Scotland) Bill is to be considered by the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 20 June. If passed, the air departure tax will replace air passenger duty from April 2018. The new tax will be half the current charge, with the SNP proposing scrapping the entire tax when resources allow.