Rowling, Kuenssberg Enter Rape Clause Debate - But Low Response From England.

UJK Rowling made an influential contribution to the debate on the so-called “rape clause’  by tweeting about it this week to her ten million followers. And BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg came in for criticism for a tweet accusing the SNP of trying to make political capital out of it. But despite the social media interest, the issue doesn’t seem to have the same traction in England as it does in Scotland. A petition calling for a debate in Westminster has attracted few signatures south of the border, in contrast to an impassioned debate at Holyrood, where all four main parties except the Conservatives oppose it.

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The Scottish Economy - Could it Survive as an Independent Country?

The debate about the Scottish economy centres largely on GERS which looks at public expenditure - the taxes raised in Scotland and the government spending. These suggest an independent Scotland would have a massive deficit.

This reflects the fact that Scotland has a shrunken private sector. Scotland has a very big public sector and those people are paid, of course, with money that has to be raised from taxation. So if Scotland were to have a sustainable future as an independent country, it would have to expand its private sector and create more profitable businesses.

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The Brief: Three Reasons Why Brexit Means the Break-Up of the UK

Talking to English friends recently, it has become apparent to me that they don't really think that the United Kingdom is in the process of breaking up as a result of Brexit. It will all blow over, they insist, when everyone realises what a great success Brexit is. Things will unfold like England after the Reformation - sure there were difficult times, some beheadings. A massive land grab by the aristocracy. Bloody Mary. But then it all came good under Elizabeth 1. And that is how it will be again. But my perspective as a Scot is pretty clear. Brexit spells the end of the UK. Here’s why:

1 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. So a UK-wide Brexit would mean that for the convenience of the English, Ireland and the European Union would be expected to undertake the trouble and expense of enforcing a border across 300 miles of the island of Ireland. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

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Jeremy Corbyn, a Very English Hero?

Jeremy Corbyn’s opening speech was a bit of a turn-up. Full of energy and passion and with turns of phrase reminiscent of Harry Potter: “the wealth-extractors”. They sound nasty. He is now dashing around Tory marginals, campaigning like a professional.

It came as rather a surprise after the listless, phoned-in performance he turned in over Brexit, and in the House of Parliament, sounding often like a substitute maths teacher gamely - but lamely - filling in for the drama department. Obviously, it’s still unlikely, but it would be ironic if Jeremy Corbyn turned out to be Britain’s next Prime Minister.

It struck me that perhaps the feeble performance at PMQs and elsewhere could have been an act, designed to lure the Tories into calling a snap election, when he would throw off the facade and emerge as a true leader.

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How Le Monde Sees Brexit and the Scottish Referendum

The week that ‘Article 30’ was triggered by Nicola Sturgeon and ‘Article 50’ was triggered by Theresa May’s letter, I was in France and over a cafe creme each morning, read about it all in Le Monde. This great European newspaper with its painstaking reportage and thoughtful opinion; sophisticated use of photography, and broad agenda of international news, illuminated the situation and it is always interesting to see oursels as ithers see us, as the poet said.

At their meeting in Glasgow, May said to Sturgeon about the referendum call: “Ce n’est pas le bon moment.” Some things just sound better in French. In English her: “Now is not the time,” has a rather nanny-ish ring, it’s one of those circular phrases that May likes. I can imagine a character saying this in Alice In Wonderland and the White Rabbit replying, irritated, looking at his watch: “The time is always now, don’t you know anything?” But “Ce n’est pas le bon moment,” sounds faintly desperate. It reminds me of the Jacques Brel classic “Ne me quitte pas,” with its lines “Oublier le temps..et le temps perdu” (Forget the time and the time that’s past). This song, of course, would also do as a soundtrack for Brexit.

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