Sturgeon: Johnson is doing my job for me on independence

The FM said the PM's refusal to grant indyref2 powers would 'drive support' for leaving the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon has said Boris Johnson is “doing my job for me” on building the case for independence after his refusal to grant powers to hold a second referendum.

The First Minister said the Prime Minister’s rejection of her Section 30 request would “drive” support for a new vote and “demonstrate the case for independence”.

She wants to hold a referendum in the latter half of 2020, while the UK is still expected to be in a standstill transition arrangement with the EU as part of the Brexit process.

Speaking to STV News on Wednesday, Sturgeon refused to accept Johnson’s letter declining a Section 30 order had made her referendum timetable less likely.

ADVERT

The First Minister said she will set out her plans later this month and give MSPs another vote on “Scotland’s right to choose” – ahead of the UK’s anticipated formal exit from the EU on January 31.

Writing to Sturgeon on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said he had “carefully considered” her government’s case for a transfer of powers to hold a referendum, which it published in a 38-page document in December.

But he said he would respect the 2014 vote as “once in a generation” – a vow he said Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond had made – and insisted another vote would “continue… political stagnation in Scotland”.

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

ADVERT

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

Sturgeon insisted his position “will not stand” and is anti-democracy after the SNP won 80% of Scottish seats in December’s general election.

‘The more they show utter arrogance and contempt for Scotland, the more I think they will drive not just support for an independence referendum but support for independence.’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

She told STV: “The more they show utter arrogance and contempt for Scotland, the more I think they will drive not just support for an independence referendum but support for independence.

“I guess at the heart of the position that the Tories are taking is an utter terror at the fact they know when given the choice, as people in Scotland will be given the choice, then the overwhelming likelihood is that people in Scotland will choose to be independent.

“So in a sense, Boris Johnson right now is doing my job for me because he’s helping to build the case and actually demonstrate the case for independence.

“You only had to listen to Westminster ministers yesterday to really know beyond any doubt that they don’t see the UK and the Westminster union as a partnership of equals.

“They see it as one where they get to call the shots over Scotland and that’s not acceptable or sustainable.”

ADVERT

Asked if Johnson’s refusal to accept her request made a referendum this year unlikely, the First Minister replied: “No, my intention is to hold a referendum, to give people a choice.

“It’s up to people in Scotland then how they choose to vote – I believe they will choose to be independent – but to give that choice later this year.

“That’s the planning that we will continue to take forward.

“I’ve always said and I continue to say, my objective is not just to have a referendum, my objective is to win and see independence for Scotland delivered.

“Therefore, having a process that is legitimate and accepted as legitimate is really important and I’ll continue to take forward my plans to make sure that’s what we have. “


Air bridges with ‘low-risk’ countries likely in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government wants to once again welcome visitors from around the world.

Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is likely to relax quarantine for people arriving from “low-risk” countries.

But she branded the UK Government’s decision-making process on air bridges “shambolic”.

The First Minister said it had been “challenging” for Scotland to come to a position on proposals to lift quarantine restrictions on those flying into the country from other parts of the world.

The 14-day self-isolation policy for people returning to or visiting England from destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany has been lifted by the UK Government.

ADVERT

But Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not agreed to the plans.

Sturgeon said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision process.

“We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.

“We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”

ADVERT

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also exempt a number of countries from its advisory against all non-essential travel, which has been in place since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The change in travel advice for England comes into force on Saturday, while the quarantine policy will be amended from July 10.

The First Minister said it was “very likely” that the Scottish Government will be able to agree the low-risk countries on the air bridge list over the next few days.

Sturgeon said: “I think I can say now it is likely, very likely, that we will be able to agree the list of countries the UK has categorised as low-risk, although we will need to do a proper assessment of that.

“But we need to take some particular care in our assessment of the risk categorised as medium-risk, because that is where there may be some countries that have a higher prevalence of the virus than Scotland does right now.”

She said she hoped a decision could be made “quickly”.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps told STV News he doesn’t blame the Scottish Government following the delay of the UK Government’s release of its full list of countries that will be exempt from quarantine.

ADVERT

Instead, he believes any issues could be resolved ahead of July 10 when the new rules come into force.

He said: “I wouldn’t blame anybody for it, but I said on Monday that I would be announcing this later in the week and I know every day people are saying ‘when’s the list coming out?’ and I did want to just hold back to see if we could get the four nations all signed up at the same time.

“That may well still happen because the date of this is July 10.

“So although the list is coming out today, from July 10 you won’t need to quarantine for 14 days if returning from any of these countries and territories on the list.

“So, it’s up to Scotland of course to decide – Wales, Northern Ireland – they all have their own processes and decisions to go through.”

It was also revealed at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing that one further person has died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

The official death toll in Scotland stands at 2488, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 4100.

Sturgeon stated that total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 18,276 – a jump of 12 in the last 24 hours.

The figures on daily deaths, produced by Health Protection Scotland, only count confirmed cases, while weekly figures from National Records of Scotland include suspected cases.

As of last Sunday, 4155 people have died where Covid-19 was registered on their death certificate.

Health Protection Scotland has reported a further six deaths of confirmed cases, indicating a total death toll of at least 4161.

More than 43,000 people have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus across the whole of the UK.

Holiday in Scotland to support tourism industry, FM urges

The First Minister said 'staycations' would support the travel industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pixabay
Islay: Scots are being urged to book 'staycations'.

Nicola Sturgeon is urging Scots desperate for a summer holiday to book ‘staycations’ to bolster the country’s tourism sector.

The First Minister said taking a break in Scotland this year would help the industry at “a time when they have probably never needed that support more” due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing on Friday, Sturgeon said: “If you are desperate to book a summer holiday – and if you are that would be entirely understandable – why not think about booking it in Scotland this year and giving some support to our own tourism sector at a time when they have probably never needed that support more.”

The First Minister’s suggestion follows the lifting of the five-mile travel limit and after she branded the UK Government’s decision-making process on air bridges “shambolic”.

ADVERT

Under phase two of the Scottish Government’s routemap out of lockdown, Scots are now free to travel around the country for recreation and leisure.

This will allow people to visit self-catering accommodation such as holiday cottages and caravans.

The five-mile travel limit, however, remains in place in Dumfries and Galloway, where there has been a cluster of Covid-19 cases.

Those planning on hitting the road have been told to “be careful” when visiting other parts of the country.

ADVERT

Sturgeon added: “As you travel avoid crowded places.

“If you go somewhere and it is already busy go somewhere else, and make sure you don’t leave litter behind.

“And please be sensitive to people living in our rural and island communities, because if you don’t take appropriate care you run the risk of taking the virus to these places.”

Shoppers urged not to smoke or vape while waiting in queues

Interim chief medical officer wants traders to put up no-smoking or vaping signs outside shops.

Getty Images
Concerns raised over impact of smoking in queues.

Customers are being urged to not smoke or vape while queuing to enter shops.

Scotland’s interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith has written to retail industry bodies asking for signs to be erected outside shops.

He pointed to public concerns over the spread of coronavirus, however acknowledged there was no evidence to suggest Covid-19 could be transmitted through smoking or vaping.

Dr Smith wrote: “The Scottish Government would like to request that retailers take steps to discourage people from smoking or vaping whilst waiting in queues to enter premises.

ADVERT

“This request follows a significant volume of correspondence received by ourselves from concerned members of the public around the practice by a minority of people.”

The letter acknowledges there is no scientific evidence to suggest that Covid-19 can be spread through smoke and vape drift.

But Dr Smith said a response was necessary as the issue has been raised as a public concern, over and above the fact that many find the passive inhaling of tobacco or vape drift unpleasant.

Huge queues formed outside retailers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen this week after non-essential shops were allowed to reopen for business.

ADVERT

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged shoppers to act responsibly and not to “squander” virus progress as more shops reopen.

She tweeted: “If you plan on visiting shops today, please do so responsibly.”

Dr Smith said the Scottish Government was working with Scottish Trading Standards, the Scottish Retailers Consortium, and Scottish Grocers Federation.

He wrote: “I, therefore, ask for your support to consider placing signs or notices outside your premises to encourage individuals not to smoke or vape whilst waiting in queues, for the consideration and comfort of others.”

More on:

Hearts and Partick Thistle to take SPFL fight to arbitration

Lord Clark ruled that the dispute over relegation should be dealt with by an SFA -convened panel.

The Scottish FA has to facilitate arbitration.

Hearts and Partick Thistle have been told that their fight against relegation must go to arbitration and will not be heard by the Court of Session.

The clubs were told that an arbitration panel convened by the Scottish Football Association should consider the case.

The clubs had taken legal action after they were relegated when Scottish Professional Football League member clubs voted to cut short the 2019/20 season and decide prizes, promotion and relegation on a point-per-game basis.

Hearts and Thistle sought to cancel that ruling.

ADVERT

Lawyers for both the SPFL and promoted clubs Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers argued that football rules showed that the clubs were bound to go to arbitration before any court action.

After hearing evidence from all parties over the past three days, Lord Clark ruled that the matter should be heard by a Hampden arbitration panel.

A motion from the promoted clubs to dismiss the court proceedings entirely was dismissed.

Hearts and Thistle were successful in a move to recover documents from both the league and three champion clubs to help prepare their case.

ADVERT

More to follow…

Brother to the rescue after boiling water tips over baby

Ryan, 15, used safety skills learned at his local fire station to help his one-year-old brother.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Family: Ryan and Alfie.

A teenager leapt into action after his baby brother was doused in boiling water.

One-year-old Alfie pulled a freshly boiled kettle of water over himself after mum Janet’s attention was distracted for a brief moment at their home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire.

Ryan, 15, used the skills he learned from a course at Coatbridge fire station to remain calm in a crisis.

He now wants to be a firefighter when he leaves school. 

ADVERT

His mum said: “I actually have no idea what I’d have done without Ryan there – I’m so proud of him.”

Injuries: Alfie was left with burn marks.

The incident unfolded in June when the family dog, a pug named Peanut, dashed into the kitchen. 

Janet took hold of the puppy and turned just in time to see Alfie grabbing the kettle.

She said: “I looked away for a split-second and Alfie had managed to get a hold of the kettle, he’s not allowed in the kitchen and I’ve got safety gates up but they were open on this one occasion.”

ADVERT

Alfie was left screaming in pain. 

Janet said: “I started panicking. I had no idea how it happened and I went into complete shock. I was told later that I’d phoned my sister. I can’t even remember doing that.”

But teenager Ryan heard the screaming from his bedroom and immediately took Alfie into the shower to apply cool water to his burns. 

Janet added: “He was unbelievably calm and completely took control of the situation.

“I had tried to take Alfie’s t-shirt off of him which Ryan said I shouldn’t have done. I actually have no idea what I’d have done without Ryan there – I’m so proud of him.”

Training: Ryan took a course at his local fire station.

St Andrews High School pupil Ryan knew that the water should not be too cold when applied to burns and also that he should not remove any more clothing as this can peel off skin.

Ryan said: “I was nervous but I knew I had to keep calm and take control of the situation. I just calmly took Alfie to the shower and put the water on.” 

ADVERT

He also briefed paramedics from the Scottish Ambulance Service when they arrived.

Ryan learned his skills from a FireSkills employability course he attended at his local fire station back in February. 

The course uses fire service drills and emergency scenarios to equip teenagers with practical safety knowledge and a teamwork ethic.

He explained: “The course was good, I would recommend it to anyone. I enjoyed everything and it taught me how to do CPR and take control of a situation while remaining calm. 

“Being a firefighter was something I thought I would like to do – but now I know I want to.”

The course helped Ryan so much that he said it felt “natural and confident” when he stepped in to help his brother.

Martin Blunden, chief officer at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Ryan has stepped into an extremely stressful and emotional situation and handled it like a true professional.

“His mum is right to be proud of him and I’m extremely happy that we were able to equip Ryan with the skills to be able to help his family at their time of need.

“It’s a moment that Ryan can be extremely proud of, accidents happen and to be there for your brother and mum like he was shows a real level of confidence and bravery.”


Greenpeace fined £80,000 for North Sea oil rig protest

The environmental organisation was found guilty of contempt of court.

Greenpeace
Greenpeace: Arctic Sunrise shadowed the rig and prevented it from reaching the oil field for 12 days.

Greenpeace UK has been fined £80,000 after being found guilty of contempt of court for breaching a ban on an oil rig protest.

Judge Lady Wolffe said she considered handing the environmental organisation’s executive director John Sauven a suspended jail sentence but had decided to exercise “leniency”.

The BP rig was bound for the Vorlich oil field in the North Sea when it was occupied by activists in the Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness, on June 9 last year.

Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise shadowed the rig and prevented it from reaching the oil field for 12 days.

ADVERT

Rig operators Transocean secured an interim interdict – or temporary ban – with BP’s permission on anyone connected with Greenpeace either boarding the rig or coming within 500m of it.

A total of 14 arrests were made at the time.

Oil: Activists occupied the rig.

In a virtual hearing on Friday at Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, Lady Wolffe said Greenpeace admitted breaching the order on two occasions.

Once as two activists joined others on board the rig on June 14, unfurling a ‘Climate emergency Greenpeace’ banner, and again by sending boats from the Arctic Sunrise after the rig two days later but being “unable to put any protesters on the rig”.

ADVERT

She dismissed the organisation’s argument the breaches did not constitute contempt of court as the protesters were acting of their own choice, saying Greenpeace was “deflecting responsibility” from itself.

The judge said: “Without Greenpeace’s active support and resources, none of those who attempted to board the rig would have been able to do so.

“There is no doubt that John Sauven was acting in his capacity as executive director of Greenpeace. He retained overall control and could have ended the action at any point.

“Most critically, he could have ended the action at the point where it breached the order.

“Greenpeace have exhibited wilful defiance of the order and they are guilty of contempt of court.”

North Sea: A campaigner holds a ‘climate emergency’ banner.

Lady Wolffe said those found guilty of contempt can be jailed for up to two years and a suspended sentence for Mr Sauven was “in range” when considering how tough a sanction to impose.

“It is fundamental to the rule of law that court orders are obeyed,” she said.

ADVERT

“However I intend to exercise leniency and contain this court’s sanction to a fine of Greenpeace.”

Following the hearing, Mr Sauven said: “We are disappointed that BP’s rig operator Transocean has sought to punish us for trying to protect the planet.

“But our campaign does not end here and we will continue to fight to stop the oil industry from wrecking our climate.”


Gran’s bid for child cancer funds nears Commons debate

Gran launched petition after her three-year-old grandson died from a rare brain cancer.

Fiona Govans lost her three-year-old grandson Logan in 2017.

A petition calling for more research into childhood cancer has passed its 100,000 target — after backing from Celtic stars and Princess Diana’s brother.

Grandmother Fiona Govan, from Dalry, North Ayrshire, launched the petition after her three-year-old grandson Logan died from a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) brain tumour in 2017.

On Thursday, it passed the 100,000 target, which means it will now be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

Fiona told STV News: “It’s just incredible and a bit unreal. Logan wouldn’t ever be forgotten by us and the people who knew and loved him, but it feels like he’s part of something important that’s going to help other kids.

ADVERT

“He is the reason that there is now hopefully going to be positive change.”

Over its first two months, the petition to the UK Government was signed by 70,000 people. But in the past 24 hours another 20,000 backed it, pushing it beyond 103,000.

Celtic captain Scott Brown added his name to the petition. Pic: SNS

The final push is being credited to social media support from famous backers, including Celtic captain Scott Brown, whose sister died from cancer, and ex-player and cancer survivor John Hartson.

Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer tweeted on Thursday that he was the 83,764th person to sign, adding: “It’s beyond tragic how many children die each year from brain tumours. Please sign and get us to the magic 100,000 signatures! Thank you.”

ADVERT

Another prominent supporter is cancer specialist Professor Karol Sikora who told online followers: “I never ask for anything on my posts, but I would really appreciate it if you could sign this.

“It’s a petition to fund research into childhood cancers with the worst survival rates.”

Ms Govan added: “I’m just to grateful to everyone who has signed and backed it – whether it’s people like Earl Spencer and Scott Brown or those with modest number of social media followers. Every signature counts.

“We’re just going to keep doing everything we can to improve research into childhood cancer as treatment for DIPG has not improved for more than 50 years.”

The UK Government petition was also backed by Alison Caplan, from Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, after her 17-year-old son Daniel was diagnosed with DIPG.

Daniel Caplan and mum Alison, who has backed the petition.

An interactive map of the UK shows that the family’s East Renfrewshire constituency contains the largest number of signatories.

In a tweet to Professor Sikora, Alison said: “Absolutely incredible! You played a huge part in this.

ADVERT

“Your kindness has played a huge part in raising awareness and helping our children.”


New jobs as ambulance service takes charge of Covid testing

Responsibility for running testing centres will transfer from the Armed Forces to the ambulance service in September.

Getty Images
Testing: Hundreds of new jobs created.

Around 500 new jobs will be created in the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) when it takes charge of mobile Covid-19 testing units.

While the Armed Forces currently run these testing centres, responsibility will transfer to the ambulance service from September.

With the number of mobile testing units also due to be expanded from 13 to 18 by July 15, recruitment for new staff is now underway – with the jobs to remain in place for as long as the service is needed.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said transferring control would help ensure a “sustaintable, long-term response to the pandemic”.

ADVERT

The mobile units operate alongside static drive-through testing centres and coronavirus testing in hospitals and care homes.

Freeman said: “I want to thank the Armed Forces personnel who have been running the mobile testing units in Scotland since they were set up in April.

“Transferring operational delivery to the Scottish Ambulance Service will help to ensure that mobile testing units continue to support testing in local communities and provide a sustainable, long-term response to the pandemic.”

She added: “The units play an important role in NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect programme, which is controlling the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

ADVERT

“But to help that work, it is vital that everyone who has symptoms isolates and books a test immediately. Continuing to suppress the spread of the virus is the goal we all share.”

Ambulance service chief executive Pauline Howie said: “Our staff have done a tremendous job throughout the pandemic, working hard to keep patients safe, and we will recruit staff to extend our service to support the crucial Test and Protect programme.

“Our staff work at the heart of all Scotland’s communities, so using us to take Covid-19 testing forward makes good sense – not only can we maintain the high standards set by the Armed Forces, we can ensure people continue to get good quality face-to-face assistance.”

Brigadier Robin Lindsay, Joint Military Command Scotland, said the armed forces had been proud to provide support to the Scottish Government’s fight against Covid-19 over the last few months.

“The Armed Forces will continue to work with our Scottish and other partners to ensure a smooth handover of this vital work,” he said.

More on:

Armed police swoop after man spotted with ‘gun’ in street

Officers were called to Gleneagles Road in Dundee at around 6.45pm on Thursday.

Google 2020
Dundee: Armed police swooped in on the street.

Armed police swooped on a Dundee street following reports of a man with a gun.

Officers were called to Gleneagles Road shortly before 7pm on Thursday.

No firearm was recovered, however a 27-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 6.45pm on Thursday, July 2, police were called after a report that a man had allegedly been in possession of what was believed to be a firearm in Gleneagles Road, Dundee.

ADVERT

“Officers, including firearms officers, attended and a search of the area was made.  

“A 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and enquiries are continuing.”


You're up to date

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