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Henry Hill Red, White and Blue

Henry Hill: Salmond looks to the Isle of Man to support his currency ambitions

Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

Salmond looks to the Isle of Man to support his currency ambitions

In a speech at the invitation of the Manx government, First Minister Alex Salmond has reiterated his intention for a post-Union Scotland to ‘use our sovereignty to negotiate a formal currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom’ – a ‘united kingdom’ which, according to a speech he made to workers in Easter Ross, his Scotland will remain a part of, in a very real if not quite literal sense.

Salmond compared the position of Scotland to that of Man, a crown dependency which, although not a sovereign state, operates its own currency and has one of the world’s oldest surviving legislatures in the House of Keys. It even has a local wing of the Liberal Democrats.

Yet despite those similarities between devolved positions, the UK Treasury points out that whilst the island does issue its own Sterling, it isn’t in a currency union. A spokesman listed the consequences:

"The Manx pound is not legal tender in the UK. The Bank of England is not required to pay attention to economic conditions on the island when setting interest rates, does not have any regulatory role, and doesn't act as lender of last resort to the island's financial institutions.”

What Man does is operate its own, independently issued version of Sterling, which nobody is denying Salmond will have the ability to do but, since it involves having no say whatsoever in how the currency is governed, the SNP has repeatedly stated is unacceptable.

An arcane link to the UK, internal autonomy and unsupported, independent copies of the British currency – perhaps Salmond is simply warming up to the concept of Crown Dependency.

Enterprising young Ulsterwoman runs ‘text a getaway’ service

Drive is a very good film about somebody who runs a getaway car service for criminals. Apparently one young woman from Northern Ireland found the business model so appealing, she decided to operate one herself, assisting burglaries that took thousands of pounds worth of stuff.

Nicole Gibson, a 20-year-old trainee hairdresser, would pick up criminals from the scene of a crime and help them to escape – at one point even hitching up a trailer to help cart off stolen goods. All the criminals in question had to do was text her.

She was caught after members of the public identified her car in the area of each robbery.

Poll shows more Welsh in favour of leaving the EU than staying in it

In the rather dismal region of the British constitutional debate where devolution overlaps with the European Union, it is an article of received wisdom in some quarters that Wales and Scotland, being progressive, are heartily in favour of staying in.

This can be taken to quite silly lengths at times: one letter writer to the Times sincerely argued that since Wales and Scotland would not vote to leave the EU, if the UK did leave it would be an ‘English imposition’ and thus endanger the Union.

Setting aside for one moment the ridiculousness of the idea that the British can’t even set a legitimate foreign policy collectively, it seems the writer may have less to fear than they supposed. A poll conducted last week shows that more Welsh people want to leave the EU than not, reinforcing the message of an earlier BBC Wales poll which found the same thing.

Perhaps most irksome for Carwyn Jones and other progressives is that apparently the most Eurosceptic area of Wales is the southern valleys, Welsh Labour’s very heartland. Jones has admitted to a ‘collective failure’ by the Welsh political establishment to explain the benefits of European funding, not least in the form of substantial subsidies to Welsh agriculture, and warned that quitting the EU would mean the end of Welsh farming.

Dublin police seize republican weapons cache

The Gardai, the Republic of Ireland’s police force, uncovered last week a substantial arsenal of illegal firearms and explosives, including former Provisional IRA weapons. The cache included an Uzi, a Glock pistol, several revolvers and shotguns, a suppressor (silencer) and a tazer, as well as more than a thousand rounds of ammunition and bomb-making equipment.

Forensic experts are examining the weapons to see if they can be linked to past operations, as well as where they come from. The Gardai have described it as a ‘very significant seizure’, and have no doubt that it has thwarted potential operations by dissident republican groups.

And finally, Tories split ‘Catholic unionists’ with McCrea’s NI21

An article for the Irish Times about Catholics in Northern Ireland who favour the British connection has interviewed three members of the NI young Conservatives, as well as two members of Basil McCrea and John McCallister’s new party NI21.

Eimhear Mcfarlane, Torr Coggan and NICF chairman Stephen Goss all feature in the article. It's a strong testament to the NI Conservatives’ cross-community credentials, but also yet another reminder that NI21 and the NI Conservatives are fighting over the same political ground.


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