The National:

The latest edition of The Worst of Westminster is here and we hope you enjoy it. Remember you can get the newsletter in your inbox for free every week by clicking here.

THE theme of the week is the UK Government and the serious questions it has to answer on domestic and global matters after eye-opening revelations at the Covid inquiry and a potentially momentous ruling at the UN's highest court.

The lights are on but Jack's not home

ALISTER Jack may have pulled out of appearing at the UK Covid Inquiry this week for reasons unknown, but he did not avoid scrutiny completely. First Minister Humza Yousaf was questioned about the Scottish Secretary’s involvement in four-nations meetings during the pandemic.

Yousaf claimed Jack would join the meetings but would at times say nothing at all, adding his engagement was “very limited”.

“There would often be meetings when he wouldn’t say anything at all. Perhaps he was there to observe,” the First Minister said.

READ MORE: Hamilton Inquiry: David Davis says rule of law at risk over 'cover-up'

Yousaf said he was “curious” as to why Jack was on calls at times when he wasn’t making contributions “call after call”.

It left us wondering even more about a question posed by SNP MP Deidre Brock in the Commons on Wednesday when she asked “what on Earth” staff at the “pointless” Scotland Office do.

She asked if the UK Government could “justify” its spending on the department after it was revealed the Scotland Office’s budget had “jumped” by more than £3 million since 2018.

Jack will surely face questions for his apparent lack of contribution to four-nations meetings when he does eventually face the inquiry on February 1.

ICJ ruling puts UK under pressure

THE UK Government’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza is a position that looks worse by the week and, given a key decision on Friday, the SNP have insisted it “can no longer remain silent”.

The UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide and enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip.

The National: The International Court of Justice is based at the Peace Palace in The HagueThe International Court of Justice is based at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Image: Getty)

The ICJ said it would not throw out the genocide case brought forward by South Africa as Israel requested. It said the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at risk of deteriorating further before the court renders its final judgment” as it imposed six provisional measures.

It has led to calls for the UK to stop arms sales to Israel and make clear its support for international law by calling for a ceasefire.

READ MORE: Israel responds after ICJ issues ruling in genocide case

Given the court has now suggested there is a plausible case for genocide, former British ambassador and human rights campaigner Craig Murray has said the UK cannot continue supplying arms to Israel.

He told The National: “They plainly can’t now continue weapons shipments to Israel, which they’ve been doing regularly out of Akrotiri in Cyprus. They’ve got to stop military cooperation with Israel while this alleged genocide continues, otherwise they’re risking complicity in genocide.”

Prior to the ICJ ruling, Rishi Sunak failed to describe the killing of an “unarmed Palestinian man walking under a white flag” by Israeli forces as a war crime, after people were left shocked by ITV footage.

Though the ICJ has no power to enforce its ruling, it is binding. Given that Israel mounted a defence against South Africa, it makes it more difficult for it to dismiss the verdict. Surely, the UK will come under enormous pressure to change its stance.


THE latest episode of Tory infighting stars Foreign Secretary David Cameron and David Mundell as the latter accused the former of breaching “proper process” in appointing Michelle Mone to the House of Lords.

Mundell, who was secretary of state for Scotland from 2015 to 2019, said Cameron did not consult the Scotland Office, which is considered usual when awarding peerages to Scots.

He said Scottish businesses were “unhappy” with the appointment as they did not consider her “to be a substantial businesswoman”.