Johnson refuses Sturgeon’s request for indyref2 powers

The Prime Minister said a new independence vote would cause continued 'political stagnation'.

Indyref2: Request for Section 30 powers refused. Getty
Indyref2: Request for Section 30 powers refused.

The Prime Minister has formally refused the First Minister’s request for powers to hold a second independence referendum.

In a letter, Boris Johnson told Nicola Sturgeon the 2014 independence vote was “once-in-a-generation” and said a new referendum would “continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade”.

He said he had “carefully considered” the case she had made for referendum powers to be transferred to Holyrood under Section 30 of the Scotland Act.

But the PM said both Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond had made a “personal promise” that the referendum in 2014 was a “once in generation” event.

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The First Minister said Johnson’s letter showed he was “terrified of Scotland’s right to choose” and insisted the PM’s refusal “will not stand”.

Johnson said: “The UK Government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them.

“For that reason I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”

He added: “Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.

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“It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country.”

Responding to the letter, Sturgeon tweeted: “It will not stand.”

In a further statement, the First Minister said: “The Tories are terrified of Scotland having the right to choose our own future.

“They know that given the choice the overwhelming likelihood is that people will choose the positive option of independence.

“The Tories – and their allies in the leaderships of Labour and the Lib Dems – lack any positive case for the Union, so all they can do is try to block democracy.

“It shows utter contempt for the votes, views and interests of the people of Scotland and it is a strategy that is doomed to failure.”

She continued: “It is not politically sustainable for any Westminster government to stand in the way of the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future and to seek to block the clear democratic mandate for an independence referendum.

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“The problem for the UK government is that the longer they try to block a referendum, the more they demonstrate that the Westminster union is not a partnership of equals and the more support for independence will grow.

“It will also mean for the Tories that the loss of half of their seats suffered at the recent general election – fought by them on the sole issue of opposition to an independence referendum – will be only the start of their road back to political oblivion in Scotland.

“In short, as well as being unsustainable, the position set out today by the UK government is also an entirely self-defeating one.”

The FM continued: “One thing, though, is clear – the people of Scotland will get the right to decide our own future in an independence referendum.

“The Westminster union cannot be sustained without consent. Democracy will prevail.

“The only question is how long it will take the Tories and the rest of the Westminster establishment to accept that inevitability.”

She added that the Scottish Government will “set out our response and next steps later this month” and ask MSPs “again” to endorse the principle of holding a second referendum.

The First Minister formally wrote to request Section 30 powers in December, in the wake of the general election result which saw the Conservatives win a Commons majority but also gave the SNP 80% of Scotland’s seats.

She has said she wants to hold a new independence plebiscite in the latter half of 2020, while the UK is still expected to be in a standstill transition arrangement with the EU.

In 2016, the SNP won the Holyrood election and became a minority government on the vow to hold a fresh independence vote if there was a “material change of circumstances” such as Brexit taking place against the wishes of Scottish voters.

The party says it therefore has a mandate for an independence referendum which it claims has been reinforced by a vote in the Scottish Parliament and by SNP victories in Scotland in the last two general elections and last year’s European election.

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Senior figures in Scottish Labour, which lost of six of its seven seats in the general election, have openly discussed backing a second independence vote in the wake of the result on December 12.

Commenting on Johnson’s letter, party leader Richard Leonard said: “I have long argued that the future of Scotland will be won and lost in Scotland, and not on the banks of the river Thames.

“Boris Johnson’s decision to block a second independence referendum in perpetuity does not change this and it is spectacular naively to think this will close the issue down.

“It will only inflame the debate, as Boris Johnson’s history of demagoguery and division shows he is well practiced in doing.”

He added: “The people of Scotland rejected independence in 2014, but Scotland remains divided.

“I believe that home rule within the UK is the only viable option that stands a chance of healing the divisions in our society.”

Analysis by STV’s political editor Colin Mackay

Leaders: Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon meeting in Edinburgh last year.

The Prime Minister rejects another independence referendum and the First Minister rejects his rejection.

That pretty much sums up where we are in Scotland’s constitutional debate today: no further forward.

After the general election, a month ago, Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Boris Johnson setting out her case for another independence referendum. It was accompanied by a 38-page document including draft legislation for transferring the powers to hold that vote from Westminster to Holyrood.

A detailed response was promised, although so far it has come in the form of a short letter saying no. The Prime Minister’s letter says Nicola Sturgeon made a “personal promise” that the 2014 Independence Referendum was a “once in a generation” vote.

Nicola Sturgeon did use those very words in her 2013 speech to SNP conference: “We have a once in a generation opportunity to chart a new course for our country.” That was what the Tories said throughout the general election campaign. The regular response from the SNP was that things have changed since the Brexit vote.

Scotland’s constitutional future has long been the defining issue in Scottish politics, that is not going to change anytime soon. It took an election to break the deadlock on Brexit and it might take another election to clear the way on indyref2.

This will be at the heart of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.  The Scottish Tories claimed the union was on the ballot paper in Scotland last month, but it seems it is on the ballot paper at every election in Scotland, next year more than ever.

Holyrood pays tribute to ‘extraordinary’ Duke of Edinburgh

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led tributes to the late Duke of Edinburgh at Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament was recalled on Monday for only the sixth time in its history so as MSPs could show their respect to Prince Philip in a motion of condolence.

The 99-year-old, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

The Duke and the Queen were married for more than 70 years and Philip dedicated decades of his life to royal duty, serving the nation at the monarch’s side.

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Royal: Holyrood paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
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Following a one-minute silence in remembrance, Sturgeon said: “The tributes paid to the Duke of Edinburgh over these last three days show the affection in which he was held here in Scotland, across the United Kingdom and indeed around the world.

“On behalf of the people of Scotland I express my deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen, who is grieving the loss of her strength and stay, her husband of almost 74 years, and also to the Duke’s children and to the wider Royal Family.”

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Holyrood: A minute’s silence was held for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The First Minister highlighted his life-saving efforts during the Second World War, and like so many of his generation the Duke had “endured difficulties and faced dangers that generations since can barely comprehend”.

Sturgeon described the relationship between The Queen and the Duke as a “true partnership”.

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She said: “He faced the additional challenge of being the husband of a powerful woman at a time when that was even more of an exception than it is today.

“That reversal of the more traditional dynamic was highly unusual in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and even now isn’t as common as it might be.

“Yet, the Duke of Edinburgh was devoted to supporting the Queen – they were a true partnership.”

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Braemar Gathering: The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The FM said she enjoyed speaking to the Duke about the books they were reading when she would stay at Balmoral.

She added: “He was a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent.

“He was also a serious book worm, which I am too, so talking about the books we were reading was often for me a real highlight of our conversations.”

Sturgeon highlighted his interest in industry and science and said he was “far-sighted” in his early support for conservation.

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She added: “Indeed, as far back as 1969 in a speech here in Edinburgh he warned of the risks of ‘virtually indestructible’ plastics.

“Of course, in 1956 he founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which now every year provides opportunity, hope and inspiration to more than one million young people in more than 100 countries across the world.”

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Just married: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day.

The First Minister said “it is right that our parliament pays tribute” to the Duke.

She added: “In doing so, we mourn his passing and we extend our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.

“We reflect on his distinguished war-time record, his love and support for The Queen and his decades of public service to Scotland, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

“Above all, we celebrate and we honour an extraordinary life.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson said she couldn’t imagine what “it is like to be married to someone for 73 years”.

She added: “And I can’t imagine what it is to have to get up and face every future day without them – what that absence feels like.

“And I think the recognition of the enormity of such a loss is what has led so many over the past few days to look past the titles and the 41 gun salutes and have such a sense of feeling for Her Majesty on such a human level.”

Davidson described the Duke as a “dashing young naval officer” who went on to become a “palace moderniser”.

She said: “He was a man that was born before the discovery of penicillin, before the creation of the United Nations or the invention of the television or the jet engine.

“But a moderniser he was in life, as well as in work. How many men in the 1950s gave up their job for their wife’s career?”

She also recalled how he had once asked former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie about her underwear, at an event in Holyrood held to mark Pope Benedict’s visit to Scotland.

Davidson said: “Seeing Iain Gray [former Scottish Labour leader] sporting a tie in the papal tartan, the Duke turned to Tory leader Annabel Goldie to ask if she had a pair of knickers made out of this.

“Quite properly, Annabel retorted, ‘I couldn’t possibly comment, and even if I did I couldn’t possibly exhibit them’.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he’d “never had the privilege” of meeting Prince Philip, so didn’t have a personal anecdote to share.

However he retold the story of a man called Jon Watts, who was jailed at the age of 17.

Sarwar said: “Jon recalled ‘there was lots of alcohol and no aspirations for people like me’, is what he said.

“But while in prison he came across the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, which he said gave him a new sense of direction.

“He camped out for his first award not on a Scottish mountainside, but in a tent on the artificial grass of a prison football pitch.

“Jon went on to get the bronze, silver and gold award while serving a six-year sentence.

“The skill he learned during the programme was cooking, and upon leaving prison he set up his very own catering business, now helping other young people to learn new skills and find jobs. ‘It saved my life’, Jon said last week.

“That’s just one life that the Prince helped save; there will be countless others from different walks of life.”

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Edinburgh: Members of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 41-round gun salute.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, also paid tribute despite the party wishing for an elected head of state.

Highlighting all the lives lost during the coronavirus pandemic, he added: “Today is a moment to extend our thoughts to Prince Philip’s family and to all those who are grieving for their loved ones in a spirit of respect for the equal value of every human life.”

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie recalled a meeting in which Prince Philip asked him about a “little blue man” badge he used to wear.

He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh spotted it at a reception. He bounced up, demanding to know what it was. ‘To show support for the prostate cancer campaign’, I said.

“He looked at me closely. He says, ‘have you got it or are you against it?’ Then he bounced off again.

“The engagement was only 30 seconds long, but it has stayed with me and to be retold numerous times over the years.

“It seems that he left lasting impressions with so many others too. Some less repeatable than others, but so many were fun and memorable.”

Old Firm moved to Sunday to avoid clash with Duke’s funeral

The Scottish FA has changed all fixtures scheduled for the date.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
The Scottish Cup Fourth Round fixtures have been rescheduled.

The Old Firm game will kick-off at 3pm on Sunday after the Rangers and Celtic match was rescheduled to avoid clashing with Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

The Scottish Football Association said the change of plans was made following the announcement that Prince Philip’s funeral will take place at 3pm on Saturday, April 17.

All the Scottish Cup Fourth Round fixtures scheduled for the date have been changed.

Rangers versus Celtic was due to kick-off at 4pm on Saturday.

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St. Mirren versus Inverness Caledonian and Motherwell versus Greenock Morton will be played on Friday night.

Kilmarnock versus Montrose will kick-off at 11.45am on Saturday, to ensure any extra time and penalties do not overlap with the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral ceremony.

A Scottish FA spokesperson said: “In cognisance of the funeral ceremony of HRH Prince Philip this Saturday, April 17, the Scottish FA can now confirm revised kick-off times for the weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth-round ties.

“These amendments have been made in consultation with broadcast partners, relevant government officials, Police Scotland and participating clubs.”

Man arrested after blaze rips through community centre

Emergency services were called to a charity-run eco village in Findhorn in the early hours of Monday morning.

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Blaze: Extensive damage to community centre following fire.

A man has been arrested after a fire ripped through a community centre in Moray. 

Emergency services were called to The Park, an ecovillage run by the Findhorn Foundation, in the early hours of Monday morning following reports of a fire.

Six appliances were sent to the scene alongside specialist resources in order to extinguish the blaze.

Police have confirmed a 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

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A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “We were alerted at 2am on Monday, April 12 to reports of a fire within the Findhorn Foundation Park, Findhorn, Forres, Moray.

“Operations Control mobilised six fire appliances as well as specialist resources to the scene to extinguish the fire.

“There were no reported casualties.

“Firefighters left after ensuring the area was safe.”

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The foundation said “extensive damage” has been caused to the community centre and main sanctuary at the eco village.

In a statement on Facebook, Findhorn Foundation said: “We’re so sad to tell you that there was a serious fire here in the early hours of the morning, causing extensive damage to the community centre and the main sanctuary. 

“Thankfully no-one has been hurt.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were called around 2.05am on Monday, 12 April to a report of a fire at a community centre in The Park, Findhorn, Moray. 

“A 49-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.”


Many Scots pessimistic over summer holiday travel hopes

Concerns over isolation and possible resort restrictions were given as the key reasons to choose a staycation over a foreign trip.

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Many Scots remain unconvinced that they will be able to book a holiday abroad this year.

STV News spoke to people around Aberdeen city centre on Monday to find out if they are confident planning a break in the sun later this year.

Concerns over the requirement to isolate on return and possible resort restrictions were given as the key reasons to choose a staycation over a foreign trip.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said that those in England “could start to think” about booking overseas travel as restrictions eased across the country.

However, the Scottish Government said “where possible” it will look to adopt a four-nation approach, but the position in Scotland “remains that it’s not permitted to travel abroad without an essential reason”.

William pays tribute to ‘extraordinary’ grandfather Philip

The Duke of Cambridge says Philip's life was defined by service to country, Commonwealth, Queen and family.

Duchess of Cambridge via Kensington Palace
Prince Philip with his great-grandson Prince George.

The Duke of Cambridge has paid a heartfelt tribute to his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, describing him as an “extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation”.

William’s statement spoke of Philip’s relationship with Kate and expressed his gratitude for the “kindness he showed her”.

The future king summed up the duke saying his “…life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family”.

Over the weekend the duke’s four children spoke movingly about the loss of their father and how the Queen is stoically coping after her husband of 73 years died peacefully on Friday.

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Prince Harry, Prince Phillip and Prince William in 2015.
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The duke said about Philip: “My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.

“I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days.

“I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her.

“I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!

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“My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support The Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”

Kensington Palace tweeted the duke’s statement together with a touching new photograph of a young Prince George with his great-grandfather Philip.

George, a future King, was pictured sat by the duke’s side on the box seat of a carriage, as Philip held the reins and a whip.

Dressed in shorts and a knitted jumper, George is holding open a picture book in the taken in Norfolk in 2015.

The Duke of Sussex also paid tribute to his grandfather, saying he was “a man of service, honour and great humour”.

In a statement issued through his foundation Archewell, Prince Harry said: “My grandfather was a man of service, honour and great humour. He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm—and also because you never knew what he might say next.

“He will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the Monarch, a decorated serviceman, a Prince and a Duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end.

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“He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’

“So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself. You will be sorely missed, but always remembered—by the nation and the world. Meghan, Archie, and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts.

“‘Per Mare, Per Terram.’”

Woman dead after crash between cyclist and van

The road was closed for approximately nine hours for collision investigations to be carried out at the scene.

Andrew Milligan/PA via PA Wire
The driver and passenger from the van were both uninjured (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A cyclist has died after a crash with a van in Dumfries.

The incident happened at around 1.05pm on Sunday on the A710 near Southwick.

A white Peugeot van travelling eastwards was involved in a crash with a cyclist riding a black Trek bicycle which was heading west at Southwick Bridge.

Emergency services attended and 44-year-old Helen Renton from Dumfries was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Her next of kin has been informed.

Sergeant Leigh McCulloch from Police Scotland’s road policing unit based in Lockerbie said: “Tragically as a result of this crash the cyclist has lost her life and our thoughts at this time are with her family and friends.

“Several people stopped to help at the scene and our inquiries continue to establish what happened.

“I’d ask anyone who saw the crash to get in touch with officers as a priority to help our investigation.

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“I’d ask anyone who was recording with dashcam on the A710 who may have captured either the van or bicycle prior to the crash, to check their systems and provide officers with any relevant footage as soon as possible.”

The driver and passenger from the van were both uninjured.

The road was closed for approximately nine hours for collision investigations at the scene.


Three in court accused of human trafficking offences

Two men and a woman appeared at Hamilton Sherriff Court on Friday.

Police Scotland
National Human Trafficking Unit police executed search warrants in North Lanarkshire.

Three people have been charged in connection with human trafficking offences after specialist officers raided two properties in North Lanarkshire.

National Human Trafficking Unit police executed search warrants on Dalriada Crescent and Jerviston Court, Motherwell, on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation.

Two men, Floreau Sandu, 50, and Florian Pietraru, 39, and a 25-year-old woman, Teodora Rotaru, appeared at Hamilton Sherriff Court on Friday, April 9.

All three faced charges under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.

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They are accused of being involved in the running of a brothel and procuring or attempting to procure a woman or girl to become a prostitute.

They entered no plea and were committed for further examination and released on bail.

They are expected to appear in court at a later date.


Coronavirus: No further deaths as cases rise by 199 overnight

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 154 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

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Covid-19: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

A further 199 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

While cases are often lower following a weekend, the figure is the smallest number of new cases since 70 were recorded on September 14.

No additional deaths have been reported.

The death toll of those who tested positive stands at 7630, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 10,000.

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The daily test positivity rate is 2.4%, up from the 1.8% reported on Sunday when 250 cases were recorded.

Of the new cases reported on Monday, 67 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 28 are in Lothian, 28 are in Lanarkshire, and 21 are in Fife.

The rest of the cases are spread out across six other health board areas.

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 154 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19. Out of those, 21 patients are in intensive care.

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The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,668,723 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 11,145 from the day before.

A total of 590,174 people have received their second dose, a rise of 21,299.


Parts of Scotland experience ‘coldest April night’ on record

Sunshine, snow and hail combined for a twist on an April shower this weekend.

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April cools: Areas across the country recorded the coldest April night in around 30 years.

Parts of Scotland have recorded the coldest April night in around 30 years with temperatures dropping to almost -10C.

People across the country were left baffled when sunshine, snow and hail combined for a twist on an April shower this weekend.

On Saturday night the mercury fell to -6C in Aberdeenshire and as low as -8C in the north and west Highlands.

Temperatures dropped even lower on Sunday night, with Monday morning being an April record-breaker for some areas,

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Tulloch Bridge in the Highlands was the coldest spot with a low of -9.4C recorded, which is almost a whole degree lower than the record for April. Records here go back almost 30 years.

Even further south the temperatures hit the extreme end of cold for April with a low of -7.4C in Tyndrum, -4.5C in Islay, -4.3C in Edinburgh and -4C at Bishopton in Renfrewshire. The lows in Tyndrum and Islay look like new records.

While Scotland has had local records, the all-time record has been safe, with -15.4C recorded back in 1917 at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway.

STV Meteorologist Sean Batty said: “Cold and snowy weather in April and May can come as a big shock, but this part of spring can be very volatile with some huge day-to-day swings in temperature.

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“So far this year it seems we’ve lacked the extreme warmer spells where we can get the BBQ and sun loungers out, and it’s been more typical to be bundled up against an icy wind.

‘I’ve got bad news for those of you hankering after the other end of extreme, I don’t think we’ll be hitting the 20s until May.’

STV Meteorologist Sean Batty

“In the last few weeks, we’ve had some abnormally cold conditions but we’ve not been alone with central and western Europe colder than usual – including Spain where there was some extreme heat recently.

“Most of the country had some snow showers during the weekend, and where skies cleared at night, there were some very low temperatures.

“As we go through this week it will feel warmer by day with temperatures getting back into double digits by the end of the week, but frosts will still occur by night, although temperatures won’t be as low as recent nights.”

Sean added: “I’ve got bad news for those of you hankering after the other end of extreme, I don’t think we’ll be hitting the 20s until May.”


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