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Scotland’s new first minister has told Sky News that the controversial gender recognition reforms “cannot be implemented.”

John Swinney, who became first minister this week, has faced questions over his stance on gender recognition after MSPs voted in 2022 to pass a bill to make it simpler for people to change their gender without having to obtain a medical diagnosis.

The UK government blocked the bill from being made into law and the Supreme Court rejected a request by the Scottish government for a judicial review.

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Asked if he would be fighting to push the bill through, Mr Swinney told Sky News: “The reality of the situation we face is that the Supreme Court has said that we can’t legislate in that area. We can’t take forward that legislation.”

His predecessor Humza Yousaf had previously suggested he wanted to work with the UK Labour Party to amend the laws ahead of the general election.

Scottish ministers said the scheme, dubbed self-ID, was aimed at making life easier for the trans community but women’s campaigners said it threatened their rights.

Mr Swinney made former leadership contestant Kate Forbes his deputy this week, which has caused some consternation within the party as she previously said she would have voted against gay marriage but would not seek to overturn the law if she became first minister.

But Mr Swinney sought to reassure the LGBT community, saying he had voted for gay marriage and introduced inclusive education into schools when he was education secretary.

Kate Forbes arrives at Bute House, Edinburgh, after newly appointed First Minister of Scotland John Swinney was sworn in at the Court of Session. Picture date: Wednesday May 8, 2024.
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Kate Forbes said she would have voted against gay marriage

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Mr Swinney said: “I think what’s the most important thing that I can see is that to LGBT people in our society, the Scottish government is on their side.

“We have been on their side and we will be on their side in the years to come.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament.

“If the UK government lifted its legal block – the section 35 order – it would become law.

“The problem is that the current UK government has said they will not.

“The Scottish government’s position is simple – UK government should lift their section 35 order.

“They have made clear however that they will not, and until they do, it is simply not legal to implement the legislation.”

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Independence ‘can be achieved in five years’

Mr Swinney also said he believes Scotland could split from the rest of the UK in five years thanks to Brexit and the cost of living crisis.

He told Sky News: “I think independence can be delivered in that timescale because the arguments for it are compelling.

“If we look at two of the biggest issues we face as a country in Scotland; the effect of the cost of living and the implications of Brexit.

“Both of those are major strategic factors that are doing severe economic and social damage to Scotland because of bad decisions taken in Westminster.

“And independence is the answer to that.”

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‘Independence can be delivered in five years’

He said Scotland was “forced out of the European Union against our will” as a majority in the country voted to remain.

“If we’d been an independent country, we will be able to take part in Europe and not have all the damaging disruption that we faced,” he added.

Mr Swinney was deputy first minister under Nicola Sturgeon, who was leader of the SNP and first minister from 2014 to 2023 when she stepped down.

Ms Sturgeon wanted to use the next general election as a de facto second referendum on independence after the Supreme Court ruled a vote cannot be held without the UK government’s consent – but it is yet to be seen what Mr Swinney favours.

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UK election on July 4: What would Labour Party win mean for crypto?

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UK election on July 4: What would Labour Party win mean for crypto?

While nothing is assured in politics, the Labour Party has a commanding lead in the polls just six weeks away from the general election.

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How the Peraire-Bueno brothers allegedly drained $25M from their MEV bots exploit

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How the Peraire-Bueno brothers allegedly drained M from their MEV bots exploit

The Peraire-Bueno brothers have been charged with fraud in a first-ever MEV bot exploit case. Here is what the DOJ claims they did to pull it off.

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General election called for 4 July, as Rishi Sunak says ‘now is the moment for Britain to choose its future’

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 General election called for 4 July, as Rishi Sunak says 'now is the moment for Britain to choose its future'

Rishi Sunak has called a general election for 4 July, saying “now is the moment for Britain to choose its future”.

In a statement outside Downing Street delivered in the pouring rain, the prime minister said he had met with the King to request the dissolution of parliament.

Follow the latest politics news live – general election confirmed

“The King has granted this request and we will have a general election on the 4th of July”, Mr Sunak said.

The surprise move is a huge electoral gamble given Labour are ahead by about 20 points in the polls.

It comes after official figures showed inflation had come down to 2.3% in April.

Mr Sunak said this is “proof that the plan and priorities I set out are working”.

More on General Election 2024

However, he said “this hard earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning”.

In a rallying cry to the nation he said: “The question now is how and who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family and our country?

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Sky’s Beth Rigby explains why inflation and boat crossings may have played a part in the timing of the election

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future and to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one. With no plan and no certainty.”

Mr Sunak had to contend with New Labour anthem Things Can Only Get Better being played from beyond the gates to Downing Street as he delivered his speech.

In a sign the election will be fought on the economy, the prime minister opened his remarks by harking back to his days as chancellor during the pandemic, saying he served the country while “the future hung in the balance”.

He said that economic stability is “the bedrock of any future success” and accused Labour of having no plan.

Summer election big gamble for Sunak

By Darren McCaffrey, political correspondent

The prime minister, late, increasingly soaked and being drowned out by protesters, confirmed there will be a July election.

Rishi Sunak’s pitch to voters is essentially better the devil you know, stick with me, I have a plan and Labour has no ideas.

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future, to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty” he said.

He is hoping that a relatively long campaign, a focus on security, in what he describes as an uncertain world and his economic record will eat into the enormous poll lead Labour have.

It is interesting there was much less focus on migration and small boats.

Sunak admitted mistakes had been made, accepted they had been in power for 14 years but played on lots of voter’s apathy about what Labour’s plans are for government.

This is undoubtedly a massive gamble for the prime minister, no party has ever come back from such a difficult polling situation, but he hopes under scrutiny Labour and Starmer will crumble.

At the moment, most in Westminster think it’s a gamble that will not pay off.

Let the proper campaign begin.

He finished his statement with an attack on his rival for Number 10, Sir Keir Starmer, saying he has “shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power”.

“If he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won’t do exactly the same thing if he were to become prime minister?

“If you don’t have the conviction to stick to anything you say, if you don’t have the courage to tell people what you want to do, and if you don’t have a plan, how can you possibly be trusted to lead our country, especially at this most uncertain of times?”

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Election ‘opportunity for change’

Keir Starmer
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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Delivering his own televised statement from central London, Sir Keir said the election is an “opportunity for change” as he tore into the Tories’ record in government.

He pointed to sewage in rivers, people “waiting on trolleys in A&E”, crime going “virtually unpunished” and mortgages and food prices “through the roof”.

“On 4 July you have a choice, and together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country,” he said.

If Sir Keir wins the election, it will end 14 years of Conservative governments under five prime ministers.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, who is also hoping to make gains the the rural Tory heartlands, said the election is “a chance to kick Rishi Sunak’s appalling Conservative government out of office and deliver the change the public is crying out for”.

What are the rules for calling an election?

Mr Sunak has been saying for months the vote would happen in the “second half of the year” but had refused to set a date.

The assumption was that he would wait until the autumn to give him more time to deliver on his pledges.

However, speculation he could go to the country earlier mounted in Westminster on Wednesday as Cabinet ministers were summoned for an unusually timed meeting, with Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron cutting short trips abroad to attend.

As general elections have to be held every five years, the final day a vote could have taken place was 28 January 2025.

However, the Conservatives in 2019 restored the prime minister’s power to call an election at a time of their choosing within that five years.

The last general election was held in 2019, when Boris Johnson won the Conservatives a landslide over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Since then, there have been two more prime ministers, Liz Truss and Mr Sunak, and the Conservatives’ 80-seat majority has been reduced by a series of by-election losses while their popularity among voters has plummeted.

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