Good evening! The end of the week is here and with it the latest edition of the Worst of Westminster. To sign up for the newsletter and get it straight in your inbox every Friday, click the link above.

Here is what we have for you this week...

Deposit Return Scheme delayed

For a few newsletters in a row now I’ve been updating you on the constitutional row between the UK and Scottish Government over Scotland’s planned Deposit Return Scheme.

Things came to a head on Wednesday when Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater announced the scheme would have to be delayed until October 2025 at the earliest due to the last-minute intervention from the UK Government demanding glass be removed from it.

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Slater told Holyrood the UK Government had given “no justification” for its decision to refuse Scotland an exemption from the Internal Market Act – which it needed because the UK scheme would exclude glass. 

She said it left the Scottish Government in an “impossible position” and accused the Tories of attempting to force ministers to ask businesses to comply with UK-wide regulations "that we haven't seen yet".

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan summed up the whole affair on Twitter by saying: “Environment law is devolved, but today shows that’s no longer guaranteed. The UK Government has trashed devolution to drag Scotland and Wales to the lowest common denominator - and on important plans to protect our environment in a climate emergency.

“It is terrible to be in Scotland’s Parliament, watching the Tories support their Westminster colleagues tear apart devolution. It is worse still to see Scottish Labour acquiesce.”

In the first half of the year the Scottish Government has now suffered two huge blows to significant pieces of legislation in the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and the DRS, with ministers now beginning to wonder whether they can legislate at all without fear of interference from Westminster. I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this.

EU Retained Law Bill rejected

Speaking of devolution under attack, the EU Retained Law Bill has long been a contentious piece of legislation which the Scottish Government believes is being used to power-grab from Holyrood.

The National: Angus Robertson condemned attempts to attack devolution via the EU Retained Law BillAngus Robertson condemned attempts to attack devolution via the EU Retained Law Bill (Image: NQ)

This week Angus Robertson told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon that Scottish ministers were given less than eight working hours to consider the latest amendments to the wide-sweeping bill, sometimes called the Brexit Freedoms Bill.

The legislation could impact the likes of environmental and food standards in Scotland as well as the devolution settlement.

MSPs withheld consent for the amendments by 84 votes to 29 and called on the UK Government to scrap it entirely.

“This continues an alarming pattern where the UK Government asks the Scottish Government and MSPs for permission to pass laws in devolved policy areas with no intention of acting on, or even listening to, the views of the Scottish Parliament,” Robertson said.

Windfall tax could be scrapped

After endless calls for one, the UK Government finally introduced a windfall tax last year to ensure oil and gas companies were paying what they owe from soaring prices.

But it has now announced it will remove it if the price of the commodities continues to fall.

Ministers said that they would slash the current 75% tax on North Sea oil and gas profits back to its regular 40% if the average price of oil fell to or below 71.40 dollars per barrel for two consecutive quarters, and the average price of gas fell to under 54p per therm.

As of Friday morning, Brent crude oil was trading at 75.38 dollars per barrel. UK gas prices were at around 64p per therm (100 cubic feet).

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The move has been heavily criticised by the Scottish Greens as showing the “exact opposite” of climate leadership.

MSP Mark Ruskell said: “It stinks to high heaven of yet more very questionable backroom deals being struck with profit-heavy business and the Tory government, and to hell with the consequences for our planet.”


  • Oliver Dowden left Mhairi Black somewhat confused this week when he answered her question at PMQs with a rant about the King’s coronation. When deputy leaders took centre stage on Wednesday, Black asked Dowden about his party’s management of the economy but in response, Dowden asked her for her views on the King’s crowning after she had branded it a “pantomime” last month. Come again?
  • And on the Tories’ management of the economy, it emerged the UK would have one of the highest inflation rates of any major developed economy this year, according to the OECD. Perhaps a bit of evidence of why Dowden was so keen to change the subject…
  • Finally, a damning report from a watchdog found EU citizens were left struggling to work, rent homes, open bank accounts and access benefits because the UK Government failed to comply with its post-Brexit obligations. An estimated 1.7 million digital applications by EU citizens for certificates confirming their rights in the UK were delayed over a four-year period, the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) said.