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Westminster may have been in recess but there has been no shortage of depressing news with threats to devolution and cuts to support for Ukrainians among this week’s updates.

Deposit Return Scheme in jeopardy

In the previous newsletter I told you how there were reports UK ministers were going to require Scotland to remove glass from its Deposit Return Scheme so that it could have an exemption from the Internal Market Act.

That intervention from Westminster has indeed come to pass as a letter from the UK Government demanding this change made its way across the Border late on Friday evening.

Scotland needed an exemption from the IMA – which was introduced after Brexit to ensure smooth trade between the UK nations – because it wanted to introduce a DRS earlier than the rest of the UK.

READ MORE: Richard Lochhead slates 'aggressive' DRS intervention from UK

The news has dominated the political agenda this week, with Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater concluding devolution is under “sustained attack” from the Tory government.

Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government is looking at options on how the scheme can progress without damaging Scottish businesses, but if no alternative can be found, the proposals may not continue.

The scheme is due to launch in March 2024, but I’m afraid it’s a case of watch this space due to yet another constitutional row bubbling away.

WhatsApp Boris Johnson?

Another story that dominated headlines this week was the question of whether Boris Johnson was going to hand over unredacted WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry.

The latest news is that Johnson has agreed to hand over the messages - as well as material from his old mobile phone – to the inquiry despite the UK Government appealing for a judicial review to withhold the content.   

In a letter to inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett, he wrote: “I am sending your inquiry all unredacted WhatsApps I provided to the Cabinet Office.

The National: Boris Johnson has said he will hand over WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiryBoris Johnson has said he will hand over WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry (Image: PA)

“I would like to do the same with any material that may be on an old phone which I have previously been told I can no longer access safely.

“I have asked the Cabinet Office for assistance in turning it on securely so that I can search it for all relevant material.”

He also said he would ask for all of his unredacted notebooks back from the Cabinet Office in order to share them with the inquiry.

The Cabinet Office says the content is  “unambiguously irrelevant” to the scope of the inquiry.

Cuts to Ukrainian support

In other news the UK Government confirmed it is reducing support for displaced Ukrainians.

In a letter from the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Committee, Tory minister in the Department of Levelling Up, Felicity Buchan MP, wrote that “the Government made the tough decision to reduce the Local Authority tariff to £5900 per person”.

Local authorities were previously receiving £10,500 per person from the UK Government to support displaced Ukrainians to access health services, employment and integrate into the community, but Buchan stated that reducing the tariff now was appropriate as many “start-up costs” will already have been incurred.

SNP MP Pete Wishart condemned the move saying: “The Tories’ slashing of support for Ukrainian refugees in the midst of their self-made cost-of-living crisis is utterly deplorable, but is the kind of decision we have come to expect from this hostile government.”


  • The death of an Afghan asylum seeker who claimed to be just 16 has led to questions for the Home Office. Amir Safi fled Afghanistan and died early last month. Shukrullah Ludin, the founder of Labour Friends of Afghanistan who has said he has been in touch with Safi's mother and cousin, claimed Safi took his own life after the Home Office rejected his application for asylum in Britain. 
  • SNP MP Dave Doogan has hit out at the Westminster authorities for “mishandling” an expenses claim. Last week, Dave Doogan he was named in an investigation by The Independent as being among four Westminster politicians who claimed fines for traffic violations on expenses. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which said it would be writing to the politicians to ask them to repay the money it signed off, has now been accused of “mishandling” the affair by Doogan after they failed to contact him regarding the failed automatic payment of a congestion fine.