Good morning. Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, was cleared of breaching the ministerial code, on various issues relating to how she responded to the sexual harassment allegations against Alex Salmond, her predecessor, in a report by James Hamilton, the independent adviser on ministerial standards. After being dogged by the scandal for months, the report marked an important moment of vindication and it means there is no chance of her losing a vote of no confidence in the Scottish parliament.
But this morning, at 8am, a second report into the affair will be published. It is from the Scottish parliament’s committee on the Scottish government’s handling of harassment complaints publishes its report. The committee, like the parliament, does not have an SNP majority (there are nine members: four SNP MSPs, two Tories, one Labour, one Lib Dem, and an independent/former Green who effectively holds the swing vote) and, according to a leak last week, one of its conclusions is that Sturgeon did give a misleading account to MSPs of a meeting with Salmond – although, according to the leak, the committee did not conclude she did this deliberately.
We will find out what the committee has to say shortly, but there are at least five reasons why it already clear that the moment of peril has passed and Sturgeon should be able to see off further criticism quite comfortably.
1) The Hamilton report conclusions weren’t qualified, or ambivalent; on the issues that mattered, Hamilton came down very firmly in favour of Sturgeon.
2) Parliamentary committee conclusions carry maximum clout when they are unanimous; if this morning’s report is split along party lines, then its conclusions may amount to little more than a party political press release.
3) The committee is already facing criticism because some of the evidence it received in private from the women who complained about Salmond was leaked.
4) The Hamilton report led the Scottish Greens to say they would not be supporting a motion of no confidence in Sturgeon, meaning that it now has no chance of being passed.
5) The Scottish Conservatives, the largest opposition party in the parliament, were calling for Sturgeon’s resignation before the Hamilton report was published. This stance may have enthused their anti-Sturgeon supporters, but was less appealing to more neutral voters who felt due process meant they should have waited to see what Hamilton had to say first.
Here is my colleague Severin Carrell’s overnight story.
And her is my colleague Libby Brooks’ summary of what’s in the Hamilton report.
Here is the agenda for the day.
8am: The Scottish parliament’s committee on the Scottish government’s handling of harassment complaints publishes its report.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales.
10am: Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a virtual renewable energy conference.
12pm: A minute’s silence is being observed across the country to mark the one year anniversary of the first lockdown, and in honour of those who have died.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby conference.
12pm: Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, gives a speech to mark the first anniversary of the lockdown.
After 2pm: Sturgeon makes a statement to the Scottish parliament on Covid. Later MSPs are expected to debate a no confidence motion in her tabled by the Scottish Conservatives.
3.15pm: Lord Richards and Lord Houghton, who are both former heads of the armed forces, give evidence to the Commons defence committee about global Britain.
5pm: Downing Street is expected to hold a press conference.
Politics Live has been mostly about Covid for the last year and I will be covering UK coronavirus developments today, as well as non-coronavirus Westminster politics. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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