SNP conference LIVE: Sturgeon braced for major speech after Boris confidence vote call (Image: GETTY)
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The first minister called on Mr Johnson to reintroduce restrictions after six cases of the Omicron variant were identified in Scotland Monday morning. Some of the identified cases had no links to international travel, raising concerns that the new coronavirus variant is already spreading in the community. Addressing the news conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “Let me stress there is no evidence yet that this is sustained, nor any evidence from the enhanced surveillance that it is widespread at this stage.”
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Sturgeon announces funding to help GPs offer more appointments
Nicola Sturgeon has announced a £30million fund to help GPs offer more appointments as part of a “significant down payment” of extra money for the Scottish NHS.
The first minister set out her plan for funding aimed at helping GPs hold more surgeries and face-to-face appointments during the winter months on Monday during her SNP party conference speech.
Support totalling £30million will be spread over two payments and can be used to schedule more appointments or pay practice nurses and external locum GPs for additional hours.
Ms Sturgeon said: “GPs will be able to use this funding – which will be delivered in December and April, in two equal installments – in ways they judge will deliver the greatest impact for patients.
“That might be through extra GP sessions or additional practice nurse time.
“In short, it will allow practices to target investment where it is most needed to improve access to primary care and help ensure patients get the care they need as close to home as possible.”
Sturgeon announces funding to help GPs offer more appointments (Image: SNP)
Nicola Sturgeon announces ‘boldest anti-poverty measure’ in UK
Nicola Sturgeon has promised to introduce the “boldest and most ambitious anti-poverty measure anywhere in the UK” when it doubles payments for low-income families with children from April next year.
The First Minister announced the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment at the virtual SNP party conference on Monday.
From April next year the Scottish Child Payment would be increased from £10 to £20 a week.
The benefit, unique in the UK to Scotland, currently pays out to the families of more than 105,000 children under the age of six.
When it is rolled out to children up to the age of 16 in low-income families from the end of 2022, some 400,000 children will benefit from the payments.
Two young boys play football in the street, Govan area of Glasgow (Image: GETTY)
Nicola Sturgeon vows to resume independence campaign ‘in earnest’
Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to resume her bid for an independent Scotland “in earnest” next year.
Speaking at the SNP party conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “I would not be discharging my duty to the people of Scotland if I did not seek to keep the promise on which we were elected – to offer the people of Scotland the choice of a better future through independence.
“Next year, Covid permitting, as we emerge from winter into spring, the campaign to persuade the majority of people in Scotland, that our future will be more secure as an independent nation will resume in earnest.”
Nicola Sturgeon vows to resume independence campaign ‘in earnest’ (Image: SNP)
Boris Johnson ‘actively eroding power of Scottish government’ claims Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has accused Boris Johnson’s government of “actively eroding the power of the Scottish government”.
Addressing her supporters in the SNP conference, she said: “This UK Government is not just seeking to block democracy and deny the choice of moving forward to independence.
“That would be bad enough. But worse than just standing in the way of progress, it is trying to force Scottish democracy into reverse.
“Make no mistake about this; Johnson’s government is actively eroding the power of our democratically elected Scottish Parliament.
“It has already transferred funding from the Scottish Parliament to Westminster, it has torn up the convention that the UK Parliament should not pass laws in devolved policy areas without Holyrood consent.
“And it has passed a new law the internal market act that the Labour first minister of Wales has called a smash and grab of the devolution settlement.”
Sturgeon slams ‘assault on devolution’
Nicola Sturgeon has slammed the UK government’s “assault on devolution”.
Turning her speech from childcare to independence, the leader of the SNP said: “[The UK government] act like they think the ambitions of people across Scotland have got out of hand and need to be reined in by those who know better.
“The SNP will not let that happen. We’re not here to see the aspirations of people in Scotland reined in or diminished.”
Sturgeon slams ‘assault on devolution’ (Image: SNP)
Baby Box initiative reaches 200,000 families in Scotland
An initiative launched to support parents of newborn babies in Scotland has reached 200,000 families.
The Scottish Government’s Baby Box scheme provides families with a range of essential items for their baby’s first six months.
The contents of the box are designed to inform and support positive parenting behaviours, and the box itself can be used for the baby to sleep in.
This year the Government commissioned polling firm Ipsos Mori to examine the impact of the boxes, with researchers contacting 2,236 parents and 870 health visitors, midwifes and nurses between June 2019 and the autumn of 2020.
Results found the estimated take-up of baby boxes in Scotland is high – over 90 percent.
Some 97 percent of parents who took part rated them as “very” or “fairly good”.
Children’s Minister Clare Haughey said: “We are proud that the 200,000th Baby Box has been delivered to a family preparing to welcome their wee one.
“It means that 200,000 newborns and their parents have now benefited from a range of essential items.
“Last year, a record 98 percent of expectant parents requested a Baby Box, a big rise on the 85 percent when they were first launched in 2017.”
Baby Box initiative reaches 200,000 families in Scotland (Image: GETTY)
‘Test every time you mix with other households,’ says Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has asked Scots to test themselves for COVID-19 using lateral flow tests “every single time” they go out to mix with people outside their households.
The first minister said that until this point, they had been asking Scots to test themselves twice a week, but that as the Omicron variant begins to spread and the festive period approaches, this should be increased.
She added: “This means before you go to the pub, or a restaurant or to someone’s house or even to a shopping centre, and if the test shows up positive, do not go out.
“Instead, get a confirmatory PCR test and self isolate until you get the result of that.”
‘Test every time you mix with other households,’ says Sturgeon (Image: GETTY)
‘Less effective does not mean ineffective,’ Sturgeon insists
Nicola Sturgeon has addressed the speculation that the Omicron Covid variant could evade some of the immunity afforded by the vaccine.
She said: “I know there is a concern that the vaccines might be less effective against Omicron than against other variants.
“We don’t know yet if that’s the case, but even if it is getting vaccinated will still matter.
“Less effective does not mean ineffective.
“You will still be much more protected with vaccines than you will be without.
“So if you could be fully vaccinated right now and you have chosen not to be you are putting your own life at risk.”
‘Less effective does not mean ineffective,’ Sturgeon insists (Image: GETTY)
Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to act with caution
Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots to act with caution after six cases of the Omicron Covid variant were recorded in Scotland today.
During her keynote speech at the SNP conference, she reminded people to take “basic steps to keep yourself and your loved ones and the country safe”.
Ms Sturgeon asked people to wear a face covering in indoor public places, wash hands and surfaces regularly, open windows if you have guests in your home, and to get every Covid vaccine dose you are eligible for.
Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to act with caution (Image: GETTY)
Cases in Scotland ‘stable and declining slightly’
Nicola Sturgeon has said Covid cases in Scotland have been “stable” and “declining slightly” but has warned people must not become complacent.
Addressing the SNP party conference, the first minister said: “In recent weeks we have had much in Scotland to feel thankful for.
“Compared to many countries across Europe Covid cases here have been stable – indeed they have been declining slightly.
“To be frank, that is a much better position than I had dared hope for a couple of months ago.
“But there are big and very real challenges ahead over the winter months, cases are rising in countries all around us.
“We know that colder weather forcing us indoors, coupled with socialising will create increased opportunities for the virus to spread.
“And more seriously of all the Omicron variant is causing profound concern here and across the world.”
Ms Sturgeon urged people to proceed with caution and warned “we must not to drop our guard”.
Cases in Scotland ‘stable and declining slightly’ (Image: SNP)
‘Prepare for a winter tougher than any we have experienced,’ warns Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the upcoming winter “might be tougher than most of us have ever experienced”.
Speaking at the SNP virtual party conference, the first minister said the Omicron variant was a concern and visceral reminder that the battle with Covid is far from over.
‘Prepare for a winter tougher than any we have experienced,’ warns Sturgeon (Image: SNP)
Tighter travel rules proposed as Omicron variant detected in Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon has proposed tighter travel restrictions after six cases of the Omicron Covid variant were identified in Scotland.
On Monday, the Scottish Government announced four cases in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
The first minister said some of the cases identified have no travel history, which suggests there is a degree of community transmission.
However, she has stressed there is currently no suggestion this is either sustained or widespread.
Ms Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart, Mark Drakeford, have written to the Prime Minister proposing stricter travel restrictions to help reduce the spread of the virus.
They propose arrivals to the UK have to self-isolate for eight days, with tests on day two and day eight.
Sturgeon demands a ‘four nations approach’ to Omicron variant
Nicola Sturgeon has called for a “four nations approach” to Britain’s response to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
She said: “As we know from earlier stages of the pandemic, with so many people travelling to Scotland and indeed to Wales via airports in England, anything less than a four nations approach to requirements like this will be ineffective so we hope that a four nations agreement can be reached.”
Omicron will be a ‘fast-moving situation’ says Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has warned the Omicron variant will likely be a “fast-moving situation” as she demands action from Boris Johnson.
The first minister urged people to continue to take precautions such as mask wearing and urged them to “significantly step up and increase compliance” with all existing precautions.
Contact tracing in progress for Scottish Omicron cases
Contact tracing is continuing in relation to the six cases identified in Scotland, according to Nicola Sturgeon.
She said: “At this stage we know that not all of them have any recent travel history to or known links with others who have travelled to the countries in southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.
“This suggests that there might already be some community transmission of this variant in Scotland but again let me stress there is no evidence yet that this is sustained nor any evidence from the enhanced surveillance that it is widespread at this stage.”
Sturgeon and Drakeford demand emergency Covid talks with Johnson
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Wales’s first minister Mark Drakeford have called for urgent talks with Boris Johnson over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, they called for tougher restrictions and confirmation of funding to respond to the situation.
The letter says: “The emergence of Omicron poses a potential threat to the UK.
“It is clear that the strain is already here and that it appears highly transmissible.
“We need to work collectively – and effectively – as Four Nations to take all reasonable steps to control the ingress of the virus to the country and then to limit its spread.
“We are clear that a four-nations approach to issues such as border restrictions is the most effective approach. This requires that a meeting of the Cobra committee be held as soon as possible.”
‘Not impossible’ Scottish Omicron infections linked to COP26
Nicola Sturgeon has said that it is unlikely but not impossible that six cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 identified in Scotland on Monday were linked to the COP26 conference held earlier this month in Glasgow.
Speaking at a news conference, she said: “We have no information right now that any of these cases are related to COP.
“If you consider the timelines of COP, it is not impossible, but it’s perhaps also not probable that there are connections to COP.”
Still a huge amount unknown about Omicron variant, warns Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has warned there is still a huge amount that is not known about the Omicron variant, although there are concerns it might be more transmissible than Delta.
Speaking at a Scottish Government briefing, she said: “What we do know at this stage confirms in my view that we should treat it seriously and that we should continue to act on a precautionary basis at this stage.
“While we all hope that the emerging understanding of it will reduce rather than increase our level of concern, there is no doubt that this presents potentially the most challenging development in the course of the pandemic for quite some time.”
SNP to launch censure motion over Boris Johnson leadership
Nicola Sturgeon is poised to deliver a rallying speech as pressure increases on Boris Johnson – who has been accused of committing “disastrous actions”.
The SNP will table a motion of censure over the leadership of the Prime Minister from Westminster on Tuesday. The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Unless he faces consequences for his disastrous actions, he won’t just think he’s gotten away with the mess he has made of the last few months – he will think he can do it all over again”.
The party announced that the motion was to be brought because the people of Scotland have “no confidence” in Mr Johnson’s leadership, but they later clarified that the action it will not be a formal motion of no confidence.
Ms Sturgeon will address her supporters ahead of this action at the SNP party conference at 12pm.
‘Our hands remain tied,’ says Blackford
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has told Times Radio that on key issues, the Scottish government’s “hands remain tied” as a result of being part of the United Kingdom.
Speaking to Carole Walker, he said: “One of the things we did argue quite strongly over the course of the Covid pandemic was that we needed to have borrowing power, so we could make sure that we did invest in protecting our population as much as we wanted to do.
“And while we have done, I think, a remarkable job, to some extent, our hands have remained tied.
“And I think people in Scotland are going to have a conversation over the coming period as to what kind of country they want to live in.”
SNP to launch independence push ‘over the coming period’
Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the SNP party conference that independence was the best way for Scotland to escape the “constant crisis” of the UK.
The MP told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show that a bill would be tabled and passed by the pro-independence SNP and Green parties at Holyrood “over the course of the coming period”.
He went on to say that a vote would be held in 2023 “in an ideal set of circumstances”.
However, Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that she would not launch an independence bid until the COVID-19 pandemic was sufficiently under control.
This promise has raised questions about whether the pandemic will have abated sufficiently to keep to the SNP’s 2023 timeline.
Blackford to oppose Johnson’s ‘omnibus of omnishambles’
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has said he will table the censure motion during the SNP’s opposition debating time on Tuesday.
Mr Blackford said Boris Johnson had produced an “omnibus of omnishambles” during his tenure as prime minister.
Mr Johnson has defended his record, pointing in particular to employment figures and the rollout of the vaccine programme.
Speaking on Wednesday, he told MPs: “We are delivering for the working people of this country. We are fixing the problems that they thought could never be fixed, and we are doing things that they thought were impossible.
“There are now more people in work in this country than there were before the pandemic began. That is because of policies that this government has followed.”
Sturgeon to deliver Covid briefing today
Nicola Sturgeon will hold an emergency Covid briefing at 10:30am after six cases of the Omicron Covid variant were identified in Scotland today.
The first minister will be joined by the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Dr Gregor Smith.
‘No government can fight a virus alone,’ Sturgeon poised to tell nation
Speaking at the SNP party conference today, Nicola Sturgeon is poised to tell her supporters that it is important that everyone plays their part in the battle against coronavirus.
She said: “Cases are rising in countries all around us. We know that colder weather, forcing us indoors, coupled with festive socialising will create increased opportunities for the virus to spread.”
She will tell the conference that the new variant of Covid has led the Scottish Government to impose tighter restrictions at the borders, adding the fact that “none of this was even contemplated just a few days ago, is a reminder of how fast this virus can move and change”.
The First Minister will continue: “We must, all of us, therefore, redouble our efforts to stop it in its tracks.
“The good news is that we know how to do that. We’ve done it before.
“Over these next weeks of winter, we need to pull together and look after each other.
“I promise that the government will do our job. Steering the country through this winter is my priority – it is my duty.
“But no government can fight a virus alone – we all need to play our part.”
Strugeon to urge Scots to ‘redouble’ Covid efforts after Omicron emergence
Nicola Sturgeon will today urge Scots to redouble their efforts in the fight against coronavirus.
The first minister will say that doing this will help “maximise” the chances of having a “more normal Christmas”.
Six cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland.Four cases are in the Lanarkshire area and two have been identified in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
Ms Sturgeon’s speech will cover issues ranging from Scotland’s public services, Scottish independence and the economy, but she will use this speech as an opportunity to reaffirm her commitment to leading Scotland through the pandemic.
Strugeon to urge Scots to ‘redouble’ Covid efforts after Omicron emergence (Image: GETTY)
SNP to table a motion of censure
The SNP has announced its intention to table a motion of censure in Westminster on Tuesday.
The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “It is sometimes worth reminding ourselves that Boris Johnson has now headed up this shambolic Tory government for a little over two years.
“In that time, there has been a cash for honours scandal, a cash for contracts scandal, a text for tax breaks scandal – there has even been a cash for curtains scandal.
“Month after month, scandal after scandal and still independent investigation to hold those responsible to account.”
He said his party would act as the “real opposition” by tabling a motion rebuking the prime minister on Tuesday.
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