48. Weekly Newsletter

Scottish Independence

Scotland’s first minister, Sturgeon, has campaigned for holding a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK but last week the Supreme Court ruled that only Westminster could have the legal authority to grant a vote on this. The last referendum, in 2014, showed 55% support for Scotland remaining in the union versus 45% favouring the formation of a new nation.

Sturgeon had planned to hold a plebiscite next year in October but Scotland’s most senior legal officer referred the suggested plan to the Supreme Court due to concerns over its legality. The PM addressed the issue by stating that the “people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that’s the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine”. The largest opposition party, Labour, has also declared that it would not support an independence referendum.

Newspapers & Politics

The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days have been dominated by the World Cup following a win from England against Iran (6-2) but a draw against the USA (0-). Wales drew with the USA and lost to Iran but faces England on Tuesday at 20.00 CET.  Other headlines have looked into attempt at a second Scottish independence referendum and net migration rising to a post-Brexit high of 504,000 for the year. Some of the newspaper front pages over the last week were:

  • The Sunday Telegraph: Thousands in 12-hour A&E waits every day
  • Independent Weekend: Tories fear mass exodus of MPs before election
  • Daily Mirror: Yawn in the USA (England football draw 0-0)
  • Financial Times Weekend: Qatar rethinks London stakes after ads ban
  • Daily Express: Suella Vows To Cut Net Migration Record Of 504,000
  • Financial Times: Business and unions demand Sunak scraps planned bonfire of EU rules
  • The Times: Big rise in gambling additions
  • The Daily Telegraph: Starmer: UK must wean itself off migrant labour

Current polling in the UK shows left-leaning Labour Party with almost double the support of the right-leaning Conservatives. Since PM Sunak took over the party the growth in support has been moderate and now appears to have flat-lined. On Thursday, the Labour-held seat of Chester will be contested in a by-election which will be the PM’s first test of his popularity in a public vote.

Qatari-UK Business

The UK and Qatar have a history of relations dating back to the late 1800s with joint coordination on a variety of political, commercial, security and economic issues. The Emir of Qatar made a state visit in 2014 to the UK which was then followed by the then Prince of Wales visiting Qatar in both 2014 and 2015 whilst PM Johnson hosted the Emir in 2019. Shared business arrangements between the two countries include Shell Plc being one of the largest investors in the Gulf state and Qatar Energy investing in blue and green hydrogen projects in the UK.

Qatar supplies 9% of UK energy imports (the second largest supplier after Norway) and Qatar ordered 24 fighter jets from BAE Systems in September 2018 for £5bn. As such, the two nations have long-standing ties which have been tested during the World Cup due to opposing values on multiple human rights issues. Over the weekend Qatar reportedly began a review of investments in London in response to the capital’s transport authority placing a ban on Qatari advertising due to their anti-homosexuality laws. The Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) has invested over £40bn in the UK with stakes across influential sectors such as banking, retail, travel and property.

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