Johnson refuses Sturgeon’s request for indyref2 powers

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

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.

ADVERT

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.

ADVERT

“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.

ADVERT

“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.

Read now

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.

Travellers to Scotland face pre-departure tests amid Omicron fears

International travellers will have to provide a negative pre-departure test taken two days before travelling.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
New travel rules come into effect at 4am on Tuesday morning.

People arriving in Scotland from abroad will need to take a pre-departure Covid test to help stem the spread of the Omicron variant, the Scottish Government announced on Saturday.

International travellers will have to provide provide proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken two days before travelling, in addition to a negative PCR test on or before day two after arrival, under measures agreed on a four nations basis.

The requirement comes into effect at 4am on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has been added to the red list for international travel from 4am on Monday morning, meaning all travellers returning to Scotland from Nigeria will be required to quarantine on their arrival in managed accommodation for 10 days.

ADVERT

The changes were informed by a UK Health Security Agency risk assessment.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “It is essential we take steps now to keep people safe, protect the roll out of the booster programme and reduce the chances of unsustainable pressure being placed on the NHS over the winter.

“We have always said it may be necessary to quickly implement fresh measures to protect public health in Scotland, particularly with regards to international travel, and these restrictions are proportionate and necessary to that aim.

“We fully understand the impact the changes will have on staff and businesses in the travel and aviation sectors, particularly as the new variant came at a time when we were beginning to see some signs of recovery.  We will not keep the restrictions in place any longer than is necessary.”

ADVERT

The announcement will be seen as evidence of the mounting concern within Whitehall of the threat posed by the Omicron variant.

However, the requirement for pre-departure tests was greeted with anger and dismay across the travel sector – just as bookings were picking up with the approach of the Christmas break.

Joanne Dooey, president of The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) – the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland, said: “Tonight’s news is the early Christmas present none of us in the travel sector wanted or needed. It’s a crushing blow for the travel sector in Scotland and travel agents are truly battle weary.

“The confidence which was returning to international travel will be stamped out following this announcement. The reintroduction of pre departure tests from Tuesday means that anyone travelling back into Scotland must take a test before they leave their destination, within 48 hours of travel back into the UK, or risk being unable to travel back and quarantining on foreign soil at their own expense.

“It leaves everyone currently overseas, who has a scheduled return to the UK from 4am this Tuesday, scrambling to find testing which meets the Scottish government regulations.

“We expect that travel agents’ phones will be ringing off the hook with customers who wish to cancel or postpone their holidays, business trips and Christmas visits to families overseas.”

The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said it was a “devastating blow” for aviation and tourism.

ADVERT

“Pre-departure tests acts as a major deterrent to travel and most of the limited remaining demand following the reintroduction of self-isolation will now fall away, just as airports were hoping for a small uplift over the Christmas holiday,” she said.

“Travel and aviation are the only sectors hit with any operating restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.

“The UK and devolved governments should have done the right thing and, alongside the restrictions, announced support for our businesses and our staff to get through another period of shutdown.

“Hundreds of thousands of jobs rely on air travel – government must recognise this and provide the support needed to safeguard this critical infrastructure upon which our economic recovery from the pandemic depends.”

Sturgeon urges people to get Covid vaccine as she receives booster

The First Minister attended the vaccine centre in Easterhouse on Saturday.

STV News

Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to get their Covid vaccination as soon as they can after she received her booster jag.

The First Minister was given her Covid booster, as well as a flu shot, at the Glasgow Club Easterhouse vaccine centre on Saturday.

It comes amidst concern over the Omicron variant across the UK, with scientists working to learn more about the latest strain.

Speaking after receiving her jag, the First Minister outlined the importance of getting vaccinated to increase protection against coronavirus.

ADVERT

She said: “It is critically important for everybody who is eligible to come forward and get a booster as soon as possible.

“We know that booster jags significantly increase the amount of protection that you get, so it’s not marginal, it is really significant.

“And that would always have been important as we head into winter, but with the new Omicron variant, it’s even more important.

“There’s lots of talk about whether vaccines will be less effective against Omicron, we don’t know that yet, but it’s really important to stress that even if that was the case, less effective does not mean ineffective.

ADVERT

“You’re still going to have so much more protection if you have a vaccination, including your booster vaccination, than you will have without that.

“So please, if you haven’t already had your vaccine, whether that’s your first dose, second, third dose, or your booster and you’re eligible, please get it.”

Official figures published on Saturday indicate there were 14 coronavirus-related deaths and 1257 new cases recorded in Scotland over the last 24 hours.

One case of the new Omicron variant has been confirmed in that time, in NHS Grampian, taking the total people infected with the variant to 30.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has the most of the new variant cases at 11, followed by NHS Lanarkshire with nine, five in NHS Forth Valley, three in NHS Highland and two in NHS Grampian.

The Scottish Government said Public Health Scotland is “aware of a processing issue with UK Government lab tests contributing to lower than expected cases and tests” in the daily figures and investigations are ongoing to resolve the problem.

There were 605 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 as of Friday night and, of these, 50 were in intensive care.

ADVERT

So far, 4,351,214 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, 3,956,719 have had a second, and 1,823,515 have been given a third dose or booster.


Family pay tribute to crash victim with the ‘biggest of hearts’

Robert McGhee, 24, was pronounced dead at the scene after his car left the road and struck a tree.

Police Scotland
In a statement released through Police Scotland, his family said he will be 'in our hearts forever more'.

Tributes have been paid to a 24-year-old man who died in a crash, with his family describing him as having the “biggest of hearts”.

Robert McGhee was pronounced dead at the scene after his car, a black Audi S3, left the road and struck a tree in Aberdeenshire.

The incident took place on the Torphins to Kincardine O’Neil road at around 9pm on Monday, November 29.

In a statement released through Police Scotland, his family said he will be “in our hearts forever more”.

ADVERT

“It’s with great sadness that at only 24, Robert (Bert) was taken from us,” the family said.

“A loving son, fiancé, grandson & nephew, his big blue eyes & long eyelashes melted everyone. 

“He was the most helpful, hardworking, caring, polite young man with the biggest of hearts you could ever meet. 

“The world has lost a treasure that can never be replaced. You will be in our hearts forever more.”

ADVERT

Police are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the collision or saw the vehicle before the incident to contact them.

North East-based Road Policing Sergeant Chris Smith, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Robert at this time.

“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances of the collision and I would urge anyone who witnessed the collision or saw the vehicle prior to the incident that has not already spoken to the Police to come forward.

“In particular, we are keen to trace the driver of a green coloured 4×4 described as a jeep who is believed to have stopped at the scene and their information may be of assistance to our investigation.”

Details can be passed to Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference 3433 of November 29, 2021.


Senior police officer suspended following ‘criminal allegation’

The force's oversight body, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), confirmed the suspension of an officer in a statement.

Armagan_A via IStock
A senior officer can be suspended if an allegation, if proven, would be sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct or if the nature of the allegation means suspension is in the public interest.

A senior officer in Police Scotland has been suspended following a “criminal allegation”.

The officer is understood to be Police Scotland Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Pat Campbell.

He is executive lead for organised crime, counter-terrorism and intelligence, which also covers border policing, cyber crime and digital forensic, having taken up the role a year ago.

Campbell is senior responsible officer for cyber capabilities, cyber strategy and technical surveillance.

ADVERT

The force’s oversight body, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), confirmed the suspension of an officer in a statement.

Prosecution service the Crown Office has instructed police watchdog the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) to investigate the allegation.

A senior officer can be suspended if an allegation, if proven, would be sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct or if the nature of the allegation means suspension is in the public interest.

In its statement, the SPA said: “The Scottish Police Authority has suspended a senior officer from Police Scotland duties.

ADVERT

“The decision was taken after a criminal allegation was brought to the authority’s attention.

“The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner is investigating this allegation under direction from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“The suspension is effective from Wednesday 1 December and will be reviewed regularly, or if there is a change in circumstances relevant to the suspension.”

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “I can confirm that a senior officer from Police Scotland has been suspended by the Scottish Police Authority.

“This is in connection with a criminal investigation being carried out by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

“The chief constable has reviewed Police Scotland’s command structure to ensure the organisation continues to meet operational demand.”


Bird flu case confirmed in flock of free range hens

Birds at premises near Gretna will be humanely culled to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Lynne Cameron/PA via PA Media
Bird flu has been detected in flock of hens in Dumfries and Galloway.

Bird flu has been detected in a free range flock of hens in Dumfries and Galloway, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The remaining birds at the premises, near Gretna, will be humanely culled and a 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone have been declared around the infected premises to limit the risk of spread of the disease.

Within the zones, a range of different controls are now in place. These include restrictions on the movement of poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure – and restrictions on bird gatherings.

Producers and bird keepers are being reminded to comply with the order to house birds, which came in to effect on November 29, or to ensure their birds are kept separate from wild birds.

ADVERT

The additional housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity regulations that were brought in across Great Britain as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) on November 3 and in and Northern Ireland on November 17.

Meanwhile, the chief veterinary officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, confirmed the presence of avian flu on a mixed poultry premises near Crickhowell, Brecon and Radnorshire, Powys.

And a second suspected case has been identified in Northern Ireland, in a flock in County Antrim.

Scotland’s chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas said: “We have already made clear that all bird keepers – whether major businesses or small keepers, with just a few birds – must ensure that their biosecurity is up to scratch to protect their birds from disease and prevent any contact between their birds and wild birds.

ADVERT

“Keepers who are concerned about the health or welfare of their flock should seek veterinary advice immediately.

“Your private vet, or your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office, will also be able to provide practical advice on keeping your birds safe from infection.

“Any dead wild swans, geese, ducks or birds of prey, or five or more dead wild birds of other species (including gulls) in the same location at the same time, should be reported to Defra’s national telephone helpline.

“Public health advice is that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not affect the consumption of poultry products including eggs.”

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “With the recent disease confirmations in wild and captive birds across the UK, it is not unexpected for avian influenza to be found in birds here in Scotland.

“We ask that the public remain vigilant and report any findings of dead wild birds to Defra’s national telephone helpline.

“Do not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds that you find.”

More on:

Van Bronckhorst’s winning start continues as Rangers see off Dundee

Ibrox side move seven points ahead of Celtic at top of the Scottish Premiership.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Giovanni van Bronckhorst continued his winning start as Rangers manager.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst made it four wins out of four as Rangers boss in a dominant 3-0 cinch Premiership win over Dundee at Ibrox.

Midfielder Joe Aribo’s deflected strike in the 36th minute gave the incessant home side a deserved interval lead and only sterling work by Dens Park keeper Adam Legzdins kept the Taysiders in the game.

However, visiting defender Ryan Sweeney put a cross from Aribo into his own goal in the 55th minute before striker Alfredo Morelos scored a third in the 70th minute of arguably Rangers’ best league performance of the season.

The league leaders moved seven points ahead of Celtic who get the chance to reduce the lead at Dundee United on Sunday.

ADVERT

Rangers, with Scott Arfield and Fashion Sakala in for rested Ryan Kent and Steven Davis, took control from the start and did not relent.

Aribo’s nifty footwork at the edge of the Dundee box ended with Sakala snatching at a shot with the ball flying high and wide and then the striker screwed a shot wide of the far post.

The pressure was constant.

In the 24th minute Sakala’s powerful and more accurate drive was brilliantly pushed behind by Legzdins – the corner came to nothing – before the busy keeper made a decent save from left-back Borna Barisic and a better one from Connor Goldson.

ADVERT

However, the creaking Dundee rearguard was breached when Aribo let fly from the edge of the box with a low drive which ended up behind Legzdins after taking a touch off defender Liam Fontaine.

The champions kept pushing forward and three minutes from the break Legzdins denied Morelos from close range.

The Govan side began the second half with Arfield’s deflected shot rebounding off the post and Legzdins making more saves, from strikes by defender Calvin Bassey and Sakala.

On-loan Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths was roundly booed when he took over from ex-Gers midfielder and Dundee skipper Charlie Adam before Sweeney, in trying to cut out a cross from Aribo, slid in to put the ball into his own net.

To the jeers of the home fans Griffiths was then booked by referee Alan Muir for a foul on Aribo with Morelos also taking a yellow for his part in the ensuing melee.

A mix-up in the Gers defence saw Paul McMullan get a shot away but it was pushed behind for a corner by keeper Allan McGregor which was defended before Dundee boss James McPake was shown a yellow card by referee Muir, presumably for dissent.

Before that Griffiths might have been lucky to avoid another yellow for his challenge on Glen Kamara.

ADVERT

Morelos barged his way through the centre of Dundee’s defence to knock in number three, and the scoreline could have been even more emphatic had Christie Elliott not cleared away another goal-bound header from the Ibrox striker, albeit Griffiths cracked the post in added time with a shot.


Humza Yousaf urges people to ‘use their judgement’ over Christmas

He urged people to use their judgement and be sensible when making plans.

STV News

Humza Yousaf has said he will be asking his family to take lateral flow tests before attending for Christmas dinner.

The health secretary made the comment as he indicated that people “have to use their judgement” in making plans during the festive season.

Speaking to STV News, Yousaf remarked that he would not, however, be checking his mother in law’s Covid certification before she comes the door.

“As health secretary, I’m not here to tell you what you can and cannot do in terms of Christmas parties, or how you behave at Christmas parties,” he said.

ADVERT

“That is entirely up to you within the rules, within the guidance, what we’re suggesting… you know, as long as you are obeying those rules, then of course, we’ll be saying to people exercise some caution.

“I’m planning to have Christmas dinner with extended family and of course I will be asking all of my family to do a lateral flow test before.

“I don’t think that’s too onerous. But I won’t be checking my mother in law’s Covid certification before she comes to the door.

“So, I think people just… have to use their judgement, have to be sensible and I trust most people to do just that.”

ADVERT

Yousaf acknowledged concern over the Omicron variant, but reiterated the steps people can take in order to help reduce transmission of the virus.

He said: “Of course we’re concerned. As we have said previously, we don’t doubt that there is community transmission.

“That community transmission is clearly as we are testing more people, as we are looking for that s-gene dropout, which is the proxy measure for omicron cases, we’re identifying more and more cases right across the country.

“So, what can people do to help us out here? They can make sure they get vaccinated, whichever vaccine you’re eligible for – first, second, third booster doses – get yourself vaccinated.

“Test yourself regularly, particularly if you’re going to be socialising, whether that’s indoors or outdoors.

“Make sure you’re wearing your mask in settings that are applicable and appropriate.

“And of course, practice good hygiene. These are the things that you can do to help us to keep transmission under control.”


Pensioner found fatally injured on street named by police

Douglas Forbes was discovered on Academy Park in the Leith area of the city on Thursday night.

Police Scotland
Police are investigating the death of Douglas Forbes in Edinburgh.

A man who was found fatally injured in Edinburgh has been named by police as Douglas Forbes.

The 78-year-old was found hurt at Academy Park in the Leith area of the city at around 8.50pm on Thursday night.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detective inspector Jonny Wright from Gayfield CID said: “We are still working to establish how Douglas came to sustain his injuries.

ADVERT

“We are trying to piece together his last movements and believe he was in the city centre with friends, prior to being dropped off at Academy Park by a taxi.

“We would like anyone who was out with Douglas on Thursday 2 December, and for the taxi driver who dropped him off, to get in touch with us as soon as possible.

“This can be done by contacting 101, quoting incident number 3329 of 2 December 2021.”


Does this street have the best Christmas display in Scotland?

Street transformed into winter wonderland after neighbour diagnosed with terminal cancer.

STV News

Lavender Drive in Newton Mearns must surely be Scotland’s most festive street.

After more than two months of planning, neighbours have switched on their street-long Christmas display.

The idea to transform Lavender Drive into a winter wonderland came during the depths of lockdown last year when one resident, father-of-two Fred Banning, was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.

By asking for donations from those who come to see the 16 spectacular homes, the neighbours raised more than £5500 for the Beatson Cancer Charity last Christmas and hope to collect even more this time around.

ADVERT

“I was going to and from chemotherapy and the first time I turned the corner and saw the whole street lit-up was just fantastic,” Fred, 38, told STV News. 

“It was really quite moving, it is like nowhere else I’ve ever lived.”

STV News
The street Christmas lights were switched on after two months of planning.
STV News
Lavender Drive has been transformed into a winter wonderland.
STV News
The decorations are lighting up the night in the Newton Mearns street.
STV News
Money is being raised for cancer research.
STV News
Neighbours came out to single Jingle Bells during the big switch-on.
STV News
The display aims to raise money after father-of-two Fred Banning was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?