In short, there is nothing that the Scottish government can do to stop this loss-making semi-nationalised company closing a large part of its network of branches in Scotland, even though it promised that it would never leave a town without a bank.

RBS was 73% owned by the British government at the end of 2015 (the latest figures I could find). If the British government wishes to do something about the closures, it is the major shareholder. Despite the fact that he will have to sell the shares at a massive loss, Philip Hammond is intending to do just that.

Getting rid of the 62 branches in Scotland along with 197 branches of NatWest in England will make it a leaner operation and more attractive to buyers. So, maybe this has been done in collusion with Hammond, given he represents the largest shareholder.

To the best of my knowledge, the Scottish government has no shares in the company.

It’s a great pity that the Unite Union and the BBC couldn’t work that out for themselves.


What on earth kind of country are we living in?

Judicial Review on legality of UK Government witholding Sectoral and Regional Reports on Consequence of Brexit: Jolyon Maugham


There has been some discussion today about the government’s intention to withhold the results of analyses that it has carried out into the effects of Brexit on “sectors” or “regions” within the UK. By now most of us will have read somewhere that Scotland and England’s North East are likely to suffer the most.


Jo Maugham, QC is “on it”. When it comes to law, Jo is a good guy to have on your side. Here, on a Twitter threat, he explains his arguments, and (we should not be surprised about this now) the fact that the government doesn’t actually know what it is doing or why it is doing it. Hammond and Davies don’t talk, or something?

Anyway, it is fair to tell you that Jo wrote all of this, not Munguin, and that we copied it wholesale from here.

We did so because we think as many people as possible should see it… and not everyone is on Twitter or follows Jo Maugham.


Our judicial review tries to force Govt to make public its secret reports showing how Brexit will affect eg agriculture or car making.

We think democracy can’t function without truth and transparency. That’s what went wrong in June 2016. It can’t happen again.

Govt says ‘it will hurt our negotiating hand if the EU knows how badly Brexit will hit the UK.’ Like, somehow, the EU can’t do modelling.

And Govt released an impact assessment on Brexit before the Referendum. If it was the right thing to do then, how can it be wrong now?

And there’s a stream of ‘good news stories’ from Liam Fox. It makes you wonder: Good Brexit stories good, bad Brexit stories bad?

Anyway, the truth is, there’s nothing in these reports the EU can’t work out for itself. So why won’t the Government release them?

What’s unique about these reports is that they come from the Government’s hand. So Government can’t say: “We don’t accept this analysis.”

Is the fact that they possess a unique ability to embarrass Government a good *political* reason to keep them secret? Why, of course!

Is the fact that they possess a unique ability to embarrass Government a good *legal* reason to keep them secret? Umm, no. Hence our JR.

There’s also a rather good subplot. Alongside the *sectorial* analyses, there are also *regional* analyses.

We know there are regional analyses because Hammond said there were.

But if you ask DExEU for the regional analyses, they claim that even to tell you whether they *exist* would harm the national interest.

Which is kind of funny for a number of reasons. First off, it’s just ludicrous. How can knowing whether they exist be harmful?

Second, how can it be fine for us to know there are sectorial analyses but not regional analyses?

Third, Hammond has told us they exist. How can it harm the national interest for a civil servant to confirm the Chancellor wasn’t lying? /15

The reality is, they’ve worked out the sectoral analyses are a hot potato and don’t want another one – regional analyses – to juggle.

Is this a good *political* reason to deny they exist? Not really, as Hammond has admitted they exist. And it’s no *legal* reason at all.

If this all feels to you like a right bloody shambles, then so far so good: you’re following my thread. But there’s more.

We know the EU knows what Brexit means, including for the UK, because they’ve *published a study*.


And, richest of all ironies? The man refusing to confirm the sun will rise tomorrow for fear of political embarrassment is David Davis.

Would that be the same David Davis who wrote this paragraph? Before being a Minister? Reader, it would.


We also found this. We’ve no idea who the minister is or to whom he said it, but it’s more or less what we have been thinking:



a no10

According to Reuters, there are moves at the top of the Conservative Party to depose May and replace her with Hammond. Davis would be deputy prime minister.

“I think Philip is the only plausible candidate for a couple of years, with DD (David Davis) running Brexit,” the paper (The Sunday Times) quoted a serving minister as saying.

A former cabinet colleague was quoted by the paper as saying that Hammond believed he could do the job. Not all cabinet members were in agreement, however, with some backing Davis and others favouring Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

A spokesman for May’s Downing Street office declined to comment.



The trouble seems to me to be that Hammond is only “better” because he and Davis may work together a bit more harmoniously to see if we can get a softer Brexit than May was proposing.

Of course, that would be good for some of us, at least. Remaining in the Customs Union and the Single Market is essential for Scotland’s economy. The trouble is that to be a part of these, countries must accept the now famous “four freedoms”.

These are freedom of movement of goods, capital, services, and labour.

And the EU is saying, if you want one, you get them all.

And of course, there is the EUs oversight of the laws that surround all of these freedoms, by (horror)  European courts. And at a cost.


Now, that might be acceptable if they hadn’t run a campaign that vilified everyone who was foreign, and played big, with the help of the comic press, on the “send them home” rhetoric. That campaign ran pretty in tandem with “bring back control of our laws” to English courts, which played well with some people. Well, until the English High Court found against the government at which point, of course, the English courts became the enemies of the people! (Go figure!) The third part of the campaign made it clear that the savings to Brits would be enormous. Remember £350 million a week to the desperately underfunded Health Services? Who could resist that?

If that was the three-pronged attack that the campaign came up with (and won on), it’s a bit hard for it now to say, “erm… well, actually, the foreigners won’t go home; the European courts will still have sway, and we probably won’t save any money”.

Then they’d have to explain that, whilst being in more or less the same situation as before, there won’t be any more EU social or infrastructure grants, farmers will have to rely on the UK government for subsidies and finally, the UK will no longer have any veto on the regulations that it has to obey.

Some might say that Mrs May was right, no deal is worse than a bad deal…

I just wonder how long the Tory Party could hold it together if that were the outcome,  regardless of leadership, if that was what they had to put to the people in 2019.



Return of Farage and UKIP, backed by the EDL, DUP, Britain First,  and England’s own Marine Le Penn: Tommy Robinson?


For a more detailed (and knowledgeable) coverage of Brexit, I advise a regular read over at Terry’s blog.


Commenting following a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to discuss the implications of the referendum on leaving the European Union, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This was a long overdue meeting but unfortunately it was, in large parts, hugely frustrating.


“I set out Scotland’s key interests in protecting our place in the single market, securing continued freedom of movement and ensuring social and employment rights are protected. However, despite a full and frank exchange of views around the table we know no more about the UK Government’s approach to the EU negotiations now than we did when we went into the meeting.

“Four months on from the referendum we finally have agreement on a sub-committee of the JMC for the devolved administrations and the UK Government to discuss the issues raised by Brexit, but there is a significant amount of work to do to make sure that the engagement we have is meaningful.

“As a first step we agreed that there must be a detailed work programme developed ahead of the first meeting of the sub-committee. Crucially we agreed that this must be integrated with the wider process so that the devolved administrations can influence key Cabinet Sub-Committee decisions. We also agreed that there will be a further meeting of heads of government in the New Year.

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to engaging with the UK Government and we will seek to use our influence to ensure that the UK does not pursue a hard Brexit. However it is clear from today’s discussions that we must also continue to pursue alternative options, including bringing forward proposals to protect Scotland’s place in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves, and continuing to prepare for the option of a referendum on independence if that is what is necessary to prevent the UK taking Scotland over a hard Brexit cliff edge.”



Bugger the Panda sent me some brilliant photographs and I thought you might like to share. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1IHNgzJC6n3u7WePDtD2v61e4XapYxSB4DJyEwjEIdDo/embed?hl=en_GB&size=m&slide=id.p8