First Minister’s Questions – as it happened

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11.45: Good morning and welcome to EN4 News’ live coverage of FMQ’s today at the Scottish Parliament. Brexit is bound to dominate proceedings here, following the government’s announcement yesterday of new negotiation lines. Also expected is some Smack talk: Parliament are debating the Scottish Goverment’s plan to ban the practice of smacking children. Parliament is filling up as general questions get underway, with the First Minister coming up at 12.

12:00: Interim Tory Leader Jackson Carlaw’s up first: Asks why, if the government gets a deal that some remainers would agree to, would Nicola Sturgeon not vote for a deal. The FM snaps back, claiming Jackson Carlaw would vote for anything Boris Johnson wanted him to.

12:05: Carlaw going strong on the line that Sturgeon is open to the idea of a Corbyn Premiership, and that her opposition to no deal contradicts her opposition to the deals and negotiation plans being brought to parliament. Sturgeon response very clear: describes Carlaw as putting the interests of Boris Johnson before those of Scotland. Even gets in a personal dig, claiming the Scottish tories want rid of their interim leader.

12:07: Jeremy Corbyn’s name is prominent here. Seems a clear calculation has been made by the Scottish Tories that the labour leader is unpopular here, and by linking the SNP to his name they can score some points here.

12:09: Sturgeon claims Boris Johnson’s plan is more “intensive care than intensive discussion.” Bit of an awkward silence and murmur in response.

12:10: Labour’s Richard Leonard up now after ten minutes of Brexit v No Brexit, going on recommendations of a comprehensive review of mental health services in Tayside. Niche.

12:12: Leonard is certainly raising an important subject however. He quietly states that the government have ignored the recommendations of an inquiry into the centralisation of mental health services in Tayside. Huge contrast to the boisterous confrontations between Carlaw and Sturgeon.

12:15: Other MSP questions up now, as Perth’s Tory MSP Murdo Fraser asks why hospitals have only been given a limited allocation of Barnett funding for winter planning. Sturgeon replies that all allocations are only preliminary, and quips that if she had taken the advice of the Conservatives’ tax plans funding would only have decreased.

12:20: Some more questions about Scotch Whisky exportation, Amazon working practices and flooding damages in Aberdeenshire. No real commitments from the FM towards any areas, promising consultations almost unanimously for the issues.

12:25: Here’s Willie Rennie- powerful question from the Lib Dem’s leader about a care home case – claiming broken promises from the Scottish Goverment has left a man promised home care in hospital care for 18 months. “Waiting and abandoned.” The FM says this isn’t acceptable for anyone, and that she will look into the case.

12:28: First really clear reference to independence from NS – in response to a question about universal credit she claims that Scotland has a hand tied behind its back by Westminster when it comes to protecting welfare claimants from unfair sanctions.

12:35: Sturgeon asked about the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at football act – says it sent the wrong message on sectarianism, garnering some murmurs in the hall.

12:40: Session coming to a close but interesting how much this has been a yellow-on-blue battle- Labour and Lib Dem have taken a side role here. SNP turning most questions from Scottish Tories straight back at them, while more measured responses to questions from other parties.

12:41: Also interesting that there’s been no talk about the Smacking Bill here. Since Tories are the only party against the bill, it looks likely that they’ve conceded defeat on any efforts to garner public support to help them defeat the bill.

12:45: That’s it: FMQs concludes. Strong response from Sturgeon to early attacks from Jackson Carlaw will dominate the headlines, but some very interesting and measured questions from the other opposition leaders on health and social care.


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