Just days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, Downing Street has confirmed the Prime Minister, Theresa May, will be the first foreign leader to visit the White House this coming Friday. Mrs May is in need of a green light on a bilateral trade deal to validate her recent single market exit decision, but the new administration’s attitude to free trade with the UK remains unclear. While Mrs May has said she “won’t be afraid” to tell the new President if she thinks his actions are unacceptable, it is clear the aim is to build bridges with the Trump Presidency.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court will deliver its judgment on the R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union case. This rules on whether the Executive has the legal authority to trigger Brexit by using the royal prerogative or whether an Act of Parliament is necessary. The ruling of the 11 justices will be of particular interest to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who could be granted a procedural or consultative role in the process – and have the potential to disrupt the UK Government’s timetable for triggering Article 50.
On the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning the Prime Minister avoided questions about reports of a Trident missile test malfunction in June 2016, a month before the vote to sanction Trident’s replacement. Mrs May said “I have absolute faith in our Trident missiles” but First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has called for “full disclosure” of the details of the incident. It is likely the topic will feature on the floor of Parliament this week given the SNP’s nuclear disarmament ambitions.
Donald Cameron will present his motion, raising awareness for World Cancer Day, at Members’ Business on Tuesday. He will call for “bold action” in the new diet and obesity strategy to help “scale down cancer”. Emma Harper’s Members’ Business on Wednesday is available in Scots and will mark the birthday of Robert Burns, while on Thursday Jackson Carlaw will draw attention to Holocaust Memorial Day 2017.
In this week’s Portfolio Questions on Health & Sport the Government will be grilled on alcohol and drug partnerships, health inequalities during pregnancy and the needs of survivors of child sex abuse. There will be Scottish Government debates on Developing Forestry and Improving Scotland’s Planning and Places, and a Labour debate on Public Services. Ministerial Statements are expected on the Draft Scottish Energy Strategy on Tuesday and on Hate Crime on Thursday.
A range of issues will be covered by Holyrood Committees this week. Tuesday's Economy, Jobs & Fair Work Committee will be considering candidates to advise it in relation to its forthcoming Gender Pay Gap inquiry while Wednesday's Education & Skills Committee will be scrutinising the Commission on Widening Access and the Commissioner for Fair Access. Also on Wednesday, representatives of David MacBrayne Limited will be appearing in front of the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee to discuss ferry services in the Clyde and Hebrides areas, followed by evidence from Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy & Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, on CAP Payments and the EU Fisheries Council. Elsewhere, the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee will attract particular attention as it begins evidence sessions on the recently published Draft Climate Change Plan.
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