Isla Bryson sentenced

The convicted rapist Isla Bryson, who raped two women as a man before transitioning as a trans woman, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for the crimes.

The sentence will be served in a male prison due to the nature of Bryson's crimes and the paramount need to ensure the safety of women, many of whom are vulnerable, serving prison sentences for their own crimes.

Even Scotland's leading trans organisation feels that it would be inappropriate for Bryson to serve the sentence in a female prison. Therefore if, as some have claimed, Bryson is merely a predatory man pretending to be trans in order to have an easier time of it in prison, it's a ploy which clearly has not worked.

However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of trans people are law abiding, pose no threat to anyone, and are perfectly sincere about their desire to transition.

Will the UK veto Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme?

Amid reports that the Conservative government is poised to veto the Scottish Government's deposit return scheme, the Scottish Government's Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater has insisted that there can be no further delays to the deposit return scheme, which proposes a 20p returnable deposit on drinks cans and bottles.

All three of the SNP leadership candidates have voiced concerns about aspects of the scheme. Ash Regan has said that the scheme is not ready to go live in August and poses many problems for small businesses, adding that the scheme needs to be "returned and recycled so that it works for everyone".

READ MORE: Independent firm will oversee SNP leadership contest

Kate Forbes has said that the scheme was a good idea which was well-intentioned, but as it stands it "fails to achieve its aim and causes economic carnage in the process". She has pledged not just to "halt and pause" the deposit return scheme, but also to prioritise looking at how to give small businesses "the breathing space they need to survive".

For his part, Humza Yousaf has promised that if elected as First Minister he would exempt small businesses from the scheme for the first year of its operation, saying that the priority should be targeting major corporations who harm the environment.

The reports that the Conservatives are poised to veto the scheme lends credence to the fears voiced after Alister Jack's unprecedented use of a Section 35 order to veto the GRR bill - that having successfully vetoed one piece of Holyrood legislation the Conservatives would be emboldened to do it again and to veto other Scottish legislation not to their liking.

Those fears are now being realised, fundamentally undermining the foundations of the devolution settlement.

McCrone Report and the Scotland Act 

Leading historian Tom Devine has claimed that the secrecy which the British Government maintained around the McCrone report and its determination not to let the people of Scotland know the true extent of the country's North Sea oil wealth was 'almost a conspiracy, certainly a plan' to play down the extent of the resources in the North Sea, and to emphasise that the gains from that resource would essentially be short term.

This was done in order to prevent any political capital accruing to the independence cause and to ensure that Westminster retained control of Scotland's natural resources. After all, you only deceive someone about the extent of their financial worth if you intend to keep some or all of that money for yourself.

Scotland's natural wealth was used to fund Thatcher's transformation of the British economy, bringing havoc and misery to communities across Scotland and further enriching the City of London and the South East of England.

NI's new Brexit deal could be a blueprint for an independent Scotland 

However the main political news today is the deal to replace the Northern Irish protocol agreed between Rishi Sunak and the EU. The deal ensures that there will be no checks on goods sent from Britain to Northern Ireland if those goods are destined to remain in Northern Ireland, only goods which are intended to transit Northern Ireland en-route to the rest of the island and hence into the EU will be subject to customs checks.

Sunak claims that his new deal, which replaces Boris Johnson’s controversial Brexit agreement has removed "any sense of a border in the Irish Sea."

It is hoped that as well as heralding a new and more cooperative relationship between the UK and the EU, the new deal will end the paralysis in Northern Irish politics, the DUP has refused to take part in power sharing at Stormont, saying the deal undermined the place of Northern Ireland in the UK by putting a customs border down the Irish sea.

READ MORE: All SNP candidates to join hustings chaired by STUC's Roz Foyer

The deal also introduces a mechanism, the so-called Stormont Brake, which gives the Northern Irish Assembly a say over any EU law which would apply in Northern Ireland. Sunak said on Tuesday that the true test for his new protocol deal will be the restoration of the Northern Ireland assembly, saying citizens “need and deserve” to return to functioning government.

However these hopes may prove optimistic, although the DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has given a cautious welcome to aspects of the deal, others in his party have been more forthright in their rejection of the agreement, the chief whip, Sammy Wilson said the deal “did not cut the mustard”, comments supported by DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr.

The DUP's real objection to a return to power sharing is its refusal to accept that there would be a First Minister from Sinn Fein. The DUP supported Brexit because it wanted to bring down the Good Friday Agreement and restore a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the island. It has failed dismally to achieve that goal. It is going to look for excuses to continue its obstructionism.

For Scotland the deal could potentially point to a solution to the issue of the Scottish-English border following Scottish independence. It should in theory be feasible for a similar arrangement to Northern Ireland's to apply to Scotland, greatly simplifying cross border trade should an independent Scotland rejoin the European Union or the single market and custom's union.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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