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The Week in 60 Seconds

Katie Armour

Prime Minister, Theresa May, took to the stage in Florence last Friday to provide an overdue update on the state of Brexit negotiations. She said she felt optimistic, called for a “creative” trade deal and acknowledged that “negotiations have been tough”. Amid proposing a two-year transition period, hinting at a £20bn financial settlement and highlighting the “vital” importance of continued cooperation on security matters, she reflected on the history of the union and stated that “the United Kingdom has never totally felt at home being in the European Union”.

As JK Rowling and numerous others were quick to point out, this inflammatory statement did not reflect Brexit sentiment across the whole of the UK and it's therefore likely a topic that will find its way onto the agenda for First Minister’s Questions later this week.

Elsewhere over the weekend, no Brexit motions were brought forward at the Labour Conference in Brighton, despite calls to retain single market membership, and the Conservative party hosted a relatively unsuccessful political mock Glastonbury. Angela Merkel secured her fourth term as German Chancellor, but with the worst result her party has seen in 70 years, and Donald Trump sparked fresh controversy by encouraging NFL team owners to sack players who refused to stand when singing the national anthem after the biggest anti-racism protest yet at Wembley Stadium.

Back to Holyrood and a clear focus of parliamentary business this week will be the debates on Improving Youth Football in Scotland, Paisley and Dundee’s bids to become Cities of Culture and the Stage 1 debate on the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill. A Ministerial Statement on Air Quality and Delivering Improvements for Public Health and the Environment is also scheduled for Wednesday.

Jamie Greene (West Scotland) (Con) will present his motion on GP Recruitment at Members’ Business on Tuesday and call for stable long-term workforce planning. Jenny Gilruth’s (Mid Fife & Glenrothes) (SNP) Wednesday Members’ Business will focus on the Levenmouth Rail Link and draw attention to the “strong support” the campaign has attracted from residents in the local area. Finally, on Thursday Ruth Maguire’s (Cunninghame South) (SNP) motion will welcome the new report on Flexible Working, Maximising Talent and Driving Inclusive Growth by Timewise, which sheds light on the quality and flexibility of jobs on offer in Scotland, and Labour leadership candidate Richard Leonard (Central Scotland) (Lab) will use his Members’ Business to stress the Importance of Worker Ownership to the Scottish Economy.

At this week’s Portfolio Questions the Scottish Government will face questions on the Education & Skills portfolio, notably on whether schools are safe environments for pupils, mobile phone use in primary schools and the working conditions of teachers. During General Questions, cyber attacks, the live music sector and GP contracts will be discussed.

Holyrood’s committees are set to investigate a range of areas this week. The Education & Skills Committee will continue its scrutiny of the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee will once again take evidence from Fergus Ewing on CAP payment progress and the Health & Sport Committee will look further at how to make sport accessible to all.

On Tuesday the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee will hear from the Chief Executive and Head of Property of the newly devolved Crown Estate Scotland for the first time and on Wednesday the Finance & Constitution Committee will hear from several professors about the impact Brexit is expected to have on the Scottish budget.

Interesting Cross Party Group meetings this week will further explore: Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Racial Equality, Oil & Gas, Recreational Boating & Marine Tourism and WASPI women.

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