Downcast Prince William chats about the dismal Scottish weather with Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh as relationship between the Royals and Harry is ‘hanging by a thread’ after Oprah ‘truth bomb’



Prince William has chatted about the dismal Scottish weather with Nicola Sturgeon as the relationship between the Royals and Prince Harry ‘hangs by a thread’ following his latest ‘truth bomb’.

The Duke of Cambridge met the First Minister at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh on the second day of his Royal visit.

He wore his Order of the Thistle and diamond and golden jubilee medals as he appeared in his capacity as the Earl of Strathearn and Lord High Commissioner, a role appointed by the Queen.

It comes as the Royal Family’s relationship with Prince Harry ‘hangs by a thread’ after the Duke of Sussex dropped yet more nuclear ‘truth bombs’.

Prince Charles is ‘deeply hurt’ by his son’s latest accusations as the Royals ‘struggle to understand what he hopes to achieve’ with his continued barrage of attacks.

The Prince of Wales’ ties with his youngest son are ‘at their lowest ever point’ and he is sad he was again painted as the villain in the Duke of Sussex’s latest explosive sit down with Oprah Winfrey.

The 72-year-old ‘is at a loss about what to do’ but also ‘frustrated he cannot respond publicly’ to Harry’s blitz of accusations over his parenting style.

In his latest attack, part of a series on mental health for Apple TV+, Harry suggested Prince Charles had allowed his children to ‘suffer’ when it came to the media because of his own negative experiences.

He also accused the monarchy and the media of attempting to ‘smear’ his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, in the run-up to the couple’s bombshell interview with Miss Winfrey in March.

In the documentary, Harry describes how Meghan shared her darkest thoughts with him, including ‘the practicalities’ of how she had considered ending her life.

He said: ‘I felt completely helpless. I thought my family would help – but every single ask, request, warning, whatever it is, just got met with total silence or total neglect.’

Harry, referring to the racism he believed Meghan experienced in the UK, also suggested his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had been hounded to death because she was dating ‘someone that wasn’t white’ – Dodi Fayed.

Buckingham Palace and Clarence House were last night retaining what sources described as a ‘dignified silence’ on the claims. 

William said in a speech today he loved Scotland but remembered how he had been at Balmoral when he heard of the death of his mother in 1997.

He said: ‘Scotland is incredibly important to me and will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy.

‘As I grew up I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here and my father is never happier than in walking among the hills.

‘My childhood was full of holidays having fun in the fresh air, swimming in lochs, family barbecues with my grandfather in command, and yes the odd midge.’

He added: ‘Scotland is a source of some of my happiest memories but also my saddest. I was in Balmoral when I was told my mother had died.

‘Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning and in the dark days of grief that followed I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors.’

Meanwhile insiders said Harry’s relationship with the Royal Family was ‘hanging by a thread’ and revealed ‘deeply hurt’ Prince Charles was ‘at a loss about what to do’.

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Nicola Sturgeon set to be re-elected as Scotland’s First Minister


NICOLA Sturgeon is set to be formally elected as Scotland’s First Minister at Holyrood.

MSPs will vote at 2pm today, with the SNP leader expected to continue leading the country following the Scottish Parliament election earlier this month.

Willie Rennie will be challenging Sturgeon for the position. He told LBC that “in a parliament of minorities it is important that there is a challenge”. He added: “This should not just be an SNP cakewalk”

READ MORE: SNP rule out Greens coalition and continue as minority

Nominees for the position must put themselves forward by 1.30pm, ahead of the vote that is overseen by the new Presiding Officer, Alison Johnstone.

Candidates will have five minutes to appeal for support from other MSPs who will each be able to cast one vote.

READ MORE: Who could be in Nicola Sturgeon’s new ‘streamlined’ Cabinet?

In the case of only one candidate, MSPs will be asked to vote for, against or abstain. If that candidate obtains a simple majority, he or she will be declared as the Parliament’s nomination for First Minister.

If there are two candidates, a candidate is selected if they obtain a simple majority of votes in their favour.

Where there are more than two candidates, a winner would be elected if they exceed the total number of votes for all other candidates.

If they fall short of an absolute majority, the candidate with the smallest number of votes is eliminated and further rounds of voting take place until a candidate is selected.

You can watch the selection of the new First Minister on Scottish Parliament TV.



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Nicola Sturgeon sworn in as MSP after election victory



Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament’s other party leaders have been sworn in as MSPs.

Returning and new members are being sworn in following last week’s Holyrood election.

The First Minister made an affirmation, followed by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar taking the oath.

READ MORE: MSPs to be sworn in for sixth session of Scottish parliament 

Ahead of affirming, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP “pledges loyalty to the people of Scotland in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people”.

Before making the affirmation, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said he would like to reassert that his party’s “allegiance lies with the people of Scotland who elected this parliament and who are sovereign, and we look forward to the day when they can choose their own elected head of state”.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar visit Glasgow mosque as they urge safe Eid celebration

The oath states that MSPS “will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth”.

His fellow Greens co-leader Lorna Slater also chose to affirm.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was the last party leader to be sworn in and he took the oath.

The rest of the MSPs are being sworn in in alphabetical order.

Ariane Burgess, who gave her affirmation in Gaelic, said beforehand she believes “the people of Scotland are sovereign”.

A number of MSPs will take their oath in a language other than English, including Scots, Gaelic, Urdu, Orcadian, Doric and even, in the case of Zimbabwe-born North East Green MSP Maggie Chapman, Zimbabwean Shona.

The oath will be followed by the election of the new Presiding Officer, who will take charge of proceedings in Parliament for the next five years.

No MSP has yet signalled their intent publicly to stand for the position, which requires elected members to renounce their party affiliation and act cross-party for the duration.

Parliamentary arithmetic could prevent some MSPs from putting themselves forward for the position, given the SNP is just one seat short of a majority.

If the SNP puts someone forward, it would drop further away from the 65 MSPs needed to pass legislation on its own – whereas the chamber would be tied if an opposition MSP takes the role.

Friday will see the election of deputy presiding officers, who do not have to relinquish their party affiliation.



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Boris Johnson invites Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon for crisis talks after her election win



UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered to hold crisis talks on the state of Britain’s union after Nicola Sturgeon led the pro-independence Scottish National Party to a fourth term.

The SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in the Scottish parliament elections, securing 64 seats, but the final result still leaves Holyrood with a majority in favour of Scottish independence.

In her victory speech, Ms Sturgeon told supporters the result proved a second independence vote was the “will of the country” and that any Westminster politician who stood in the way was “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people”.

But Boris Johnson, in a letter to Ms Sturgeon, argued the UK was “best served when we work together” and called for a conversation about “our shared challenges” in recovering from the pandemic.

In a letter shared by No 10, the Prime Minister congratulated Ms Sturgeon on her re-election and said: “I would like to invite you to join me, UK Government colleagues and others at a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick stressed that, despite the strong preference in Scotland for pro-independence parties, it would be a “grave error” to pursue another border poll.

The Cabinet minister told BBC News: “I don’t know what the future might hold but our sole focus right now must be on recovery, and I think being distracted in any way by talk of constitutional wrangles would be a grave error.”

The dispute over a follow-up referendum came as Labour recriminations began over its poor showing in local elections on Thursday.

Labour lost the Hartlepool by-election – with the northeast town voting for a Tory MP for the first time in 60 years – and incurred a net loss of six councils and more than 200 seats as voters in its traditional heartlands deserted the party.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was sacked on Saturday from her role as chairman and national campaign coordinator.

Prominent figures on the left of the party hit out at the move, with former shadow chancellor John McDonnell calling it a “cowardly avoidance of responsibility” by leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Labour fared better in Saturday’s results, producing surprise victories in the West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral contests, while comfortably winning second terms in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.

In London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan had to wait late into the night to find out that he had won a second term as mayor in City Hall after fending off a challenge from Tory rival Shaun Bailey.

By the close of Saturday, with results in from 129 of 143 English councils, the Tories had a net gain of 11 authorities and more than 280 seats, while Labour had a net loss of six councils and more than 220 seats.

In Wales – as in Scotland and England – the party in power was rewarded by the voters.

Mark Drakeford’s Welsh Labour avoided the kind of electoral drubbing Sir Keir endured on Friday.

With the final declarations made on Saturday, Labour ended with exactly half the 60 seats in the Senedd – one short of an overall majority – equalling its best ever results.

First Minister Mr Drakeford, who extended the majority for his Cardiff West seat by more than 10,000 votes, vowed to be “radical” and “ambitious” in government.

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Scotland’s future on a ‘knife edge’: Nicola Sturgeon admits SNP hopes of majority will go down to wire as Boris Johnson blasts her plan for new independence referendum as ‘irresponsible and reckless’



Nicola Sturgeon was today aiming to push ahead with plans for a second Scottish independence referendum as Boris Johnson set himself on course for a dramatic constitutional clash with her in his defence of the Union as the tight election count resumed in Scotland today. 

The tense parliamentary contest looked on track for a record turnout, despite fears that the pandemic and poor weather would dent voter numbers – with the Scottish National Party leader admitting her hopes of a majority were on a ‘knife edge’, but it is ‘almost certain’ the SNP will win its fourth term in power at Holyrood.

Ms Sturgeon said ‘when the time is right’ she will offer Scots ‘the choice of a better future’ in a second referendum on independence – but Mr Johnson hit back, insisting he would not back the ‘irresponsible’ move, and senior minister George Eustice warned it was the wrong time to be considering another plebiscite.

Achieving the 65 seats needed for an outright victory in Scotland could make it harder for the PM to refuse, but if the SNP falls short of that target it could still achieve a majority for a referendum with the help of the Greens.

With 49 of the 73 constituency results declared in Scotland by noon today, the SNP had 40 seats, Liberal Democrats four, Conservatives three and Labour two. 

The SNP made it to 40 seats this morning as they held Aberdeenshire East in the only result declared so far on Saturday. Gillian Martin retained her seat with 18,307 votes, with Conservative candidate Stewart Whyte taking second place on 16,418 votes. The Liberal Democrats won 3,396 votes and Labour 2,900.

Some constituencies are still to be counted today, when the crucial regional list results of 56 regional MSPs will also be declared. Traditional overnight counts were abandoned after Thursday’s election due to Covid-19. 

Ms Sturgeon, who comfortably defeated Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to claim Glasgow Southside yesterday, said afterwards: ‘My focus, if we are re-elected as the government, is to get back to work to steer the country through the crisis and into recovery.

‘That remains the case. But once the crisis is over, and if there is a majority in the parliament for an independence referendum, people should have the right to choose our future. Scotland’s future should always be in Scotland’s hands.’

Speaking about the prospect of winning an overall majority, the SNP leader said: ‘It’s certainly not impossible, but nor is it guaranteed.

‘That was always going to be on a knife edge, it comes down to a small number of votes in a small number of seats, so at this midway point it is certainly still there as a possibility, but I have never taken that for granted.

‘It is a long shot, to say the least, in a PR (proportional representation) system, to win a majority – you effectively have to break the system. I would like to do it, but I have never been complacent about that.’

It comes as Labour this morning blamed the pandemic for ‘restricting’ the opportunities’ for its politicians to campaign across Britain after the Conservatives racked up a string of stunning poll victories in the local elections.

Labour will hope for better results today after a bruising Friday. With results in from 84 of 143 English councils, the Tories had a net gain of seven authorities and 173 seats, while Labour had a net loss of four councils and 164 seats.

In London’s mayoral contest, Labour’s Sadiq Khan goes into today with a lead of 24,267 first preference votes over Tory rival Shaun Bailey after the first seven constituencies declared, a closer contest than many had predicted.

Labour was thrashed in the Hartlepool by-election, with Jill Mortimer securing a majority of almost 7,000, while Tory Ben Houchen won a second term as mayor of Tees Valley with a whopping 73 per cent share of the vote.

And the Tories gained control of a series of councils, including Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Dudley, Harlow and Nuneaton and Bedworth – reversing the mid-term slump often suffered by governing parties.

With the Conservatives also winning seats across the West Midlands, senior figures were confident that the region’s mayor Andy Street will secure a second term in office when returns there are announced today. 

Meanwhile counting began of the 714,745 votes cast in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Mayoral elections this morning, with incumbent Andy Burnham widely expected to win the poll. Burnham won 63.4 per cent of the votes cast in 2017 and turnout is up around 5 per cent on the last election, to 34.7 per cent.

The outcome of the first round of voting is expected around 3pm, although with Mr Burnham running for a second term and nine candidates in all, the election could go to a second round, with second preference votes also then counted to decide the winner.

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Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon rejects claims independent Scotland could not buy vaccines


Nicola Sturgeon has rejected claims that an independent Scotland would not be able to procure coronavirus vaccines as “nonsense”.

Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the First Minister said coronavirus vaccines are not a “gift” from the UK Government to Scotland – but are rather procured on a joint four-nations basis with Westminster and the devolved nations.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The UK was still within the transition period when it procured the vaccine and that didn’t prevent it procuring the vaccine on a four-nations basis with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the way we procure the flu vaccine every year.

“That was done, nothing would have prevented that happening had we still been in the European Union.

“And of course the delivery of the vaccination programme in Scotland is down to the sterling efforts and fantastic work of NHS Scotland vaccinators and teams across the country and they have my deep and everlasting appreciation for the fantastic work that they are doing.”

GMB presenter Sean Fletcher said the delivery of the vaccination in Scotland was also down to the “procurement of the UK Government getting those vaccines”.

However, Ms Sturgeon told him to “hold on”, before stressing procurement was on a four-nations basis.

READ MORE: IN FULL: All the MSPs standing down at the Holyrood election

She added: “We do it voluntarily on a four-nations basis. It’s not a gift from the UK Government to Scotland. We choose to pool our efforts in that way. We do it with the flu vaccine every year.

“Scotland could if it chose procure the vaccine separately – health is devolved – but we chose to do it on a four-nations basis because it makes sense and if Scotland was independent it may well be that we still chose to do that.

“So these arguments that we couldn’t do these things if we were independent, frankly, are nonsense and don’t stand up to any scrutiny whatsoever.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Nicola Sturgeon said she will ‘convince’ Scottish people to support Scottish independence, and hopes to win a majority in the upcoming Holyrood election.



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Sturgeon knows there were ‘catastrophic failures’ in handling of Salmond investigation, says writer Iain Macwhirter


Iain Macwhirter is a writer and columnist who’s supported independence but is critical of the Scottish government and its treatment of Alex Salmond.

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Donald Trump told by Nicola Sturgeon he’s not allowed to play golf in Scotland during Joe Biden inauguration | Politics News


Donald Trump has been warned he’s not allowed to visit Scotland to play golf during Joe Biden’s inauguration as the next US president.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cautioned the outgoing US leader that playing a round would not be deemed an “essential purpose” for transatlantic travel into the country during the ongoing COVID crisis.

Despite being beaten in November’s election, Mr Trump is still disputing the result of what he has termed a “fraudulent” vote.

This has fuelled suggestions he could boycott Mr Biden‘s inauguration ceremony on 20 January.

Image:
Nicola Sturgeon warned the US president against making non-essential travel

But, asked at her daily coronavirus briefing about speculation Mr Trump plans to instead fly into Scotland to play golf that week, Ms Sturgeon said: “I have no idea what Donald Trump’s travel plans are, you’ll be glad to know.

“I hope and expect that – as everybody expects, not everybody necessarily will hope – that the travel plan immediately that he has is to exit the White House.

“But beyond that I don’t know.

“We are not allowing people to come into Scotland without an essential purpose right now and that would apply to him, just as it applies to anybody else.

“Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”

The Sunday Post this week reported Glasgow’s Prestwick airport – less than an hour’s drive from Mr Trump’s Turnberry Golf Club on the Ayrshire coast – has been told to expect the arrival of a US military aircraft on 19 January.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden campaigns for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock at a rally ahead of runoff elections in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 4, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the next US president on 20 January

The newspaper quoted an anonymous airport source as saying: “There is a booking for an American military version of the Boeing 757 on January 19, the day before the inauguration.

“That’s one that’s normally used by the vice-president but often used by the First Lady.

“Presidential flights tend to get booked far in advance, because of the work that has to be done around it.”

The newspaper also reported that US surveillance planes has been circling Turnberry after November’s election.
At a rally in Georgia on Monday night, Mr Trump claimed to have “won the presidential election” and told a crowd: “We won it big.”

He also vowed to “fight like hell” to overturn the result of the election, which he lost by 306 Electoral College votes to 232.

Mr Tump was also beaten by more than seven million votes in the popular vote by Mr Biden.

The last outgoing US president to refuse to attend the inauguration of their successor was Andrew Johnson in 1869.

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Nicola Sturgeon cuts Scottish Christmas bubbles to one day


‘It makes me want to cry. I know how unfair it is but this virus is unfair.’ Nicola Sturgeon cuts Scottish Christmas bubbles to one day after Boris Johnson cancelled festive break in England

  • Speaking this afternoon Ms Sturgeon said the new rules ‘make me want to cry’
  • All of the Scottish mainland will move to level four restrictions on 26 December
  • Cross-border travel will not be permitted over the whole of the festive period  

The planned five-day relaxation of Covid restrictions over the festive period has been cut back to just Christmas Day for the whole of Scotland.  

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed Scotland tonight after chairing a Cabinet meeting over the ‘highly contagious’ mutant form of coronavirus that has cancelled Christmas in the south of England.    

The travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK will remain in place throughout the Christmas holidays and bubbles will only be allowed on December 25.

It had been planned to ease the rules between December 23 and 27. 

Tougher level four rules will also apply across mainland Scotland from December 26 and the school return date  has been pushed back. 

Speaking this afternoon Ms Sturgeon said the new rules ‘make me want to cry’.

‘I know how harsh it is,’ she said, adding ‘but this virus doesn’t care about anything apart from spreading as far and wide as possible’.

‘We will allow Christmas Day to go ahead, but as we have said from the start, only use this flexibility if you really, truly need to.

‘Our advice is still not to meet indoors even on Christmas Day with other households if you can possibly avoid it.’ 

The planned five-day relaxation of Covid restrictions over the festive period has been cut back to just Christmas Day for the whole of Scotland 

Ms Sturgeon spoke with Scottish colleagues as well as the leaders of the other devolved nations before the announcement.    

Ms Sturgeon also said that all of the Scottish mainland will move to level four restrictions from 26 December.

Level four is the highest of Scotland’s five levels – it stops households mixing, shuts pubs and restaurants and closes non-essential retail.

Level four will last for at least three weeks. 

Schools will not resume until 11 January, with online only until 18 January – apart from key workers’ children and the most vulnerable. 

A maximum of eight people from three households will be allowed to meet on Christmas Day.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed Scotland tonight after chairing a Cabinet meeting over the 'highly contagious' mutant form of coronavirus that has cancelled Christmas in the south of England

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed Scotland tonight after chairing a Cabinet meeting over the ‘highly contagious’ mutant form of coronavirus that has cancelled Christmas in the south of England

She added: ‘But again our advice will be to minimise those numbers as much as possible’, Ms Sturgeon says.

Cross-border travel will no longer be permitted, but travelling within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day only.    

It comes after Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty this afternoon confirmed that the new variant is more contagious than previous strains.

He said: ‘As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance.

‘As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.

‘We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.

‘There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this.

‘Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.’

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pushes for independence referendum next year


Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has said an independence referendum should take place next year.

The independence vote could wrench apart the United Kingdom after Brexit.

If there was another referendum and if Scots voted to leave, it would mark the biggest shock to the United Kingdom since Irish independence a century ago — just as London grapples with the impact of Brexit.

The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said she anticipated a vote would take place “in the earlier part” of the next Scottish parliament, which begins next year.

“The referendum for a whole variety of reasons should be in the earlier part of the next parliament,” the Scottish First Minister told the BBC.

Scots voted 55-45 against independence in a 2014 referendum.

But both Brexit and the British Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis have bolstered support for independence among Scots.

Support for Scottish independence has been bolstered by both Brexit and the British Government’s handling of COVID-19.(Reuters: Russell Cheyne)

The past 14 opinion surveys have shown that Scots want independence, in a support rating ranging from 51-59 per cent.

Ms Sturgeon’s SNP is expected to perform strongly in elections to the Scottish Parliament in May.

The SNP will argue that winning that election would be a mandate for another independence referendum.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the 2014 independence referendum was decisive and a once-in-a-generation event, so should be respected.

His government says there should not be another independence referendum in the near future.

But if Ms Sturgeon wins the May 6 Scottish election, Mr Johnson will have a difficult choice: refuse a referendum and thus allow Scottish discontent to simmer, or allow a referendum which could break apart the union he says is so dear to him and his party.

Today, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The United Kingdom as a whole voted 52-48 to leave the EU in a 2016 referendum: England and Wales voted to leave but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.

Reuters



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