Scotland politics

Week ahead at Holyrood: Brexit countdown

Brexit alarm clock Image copyright Getty Images

With 25 days until Brexit, the task of narrowing down what will happen next is at the forefront of politicians' minds.

MSPs are set to debate withdrawal negotiations for almost four hours on Tuesday afternoon - an unusually lengthy timeslot for the Scottish Parliament.

It comes ahead of a series of votes taking place at Westminster next week.

If a majority in the House of Commons do not back an alternative, the UK will leave the EU on 29 March without a deal in place.

This is an outcome the majority of MSPs hope to avoid.

Four of the five parties at Holyrood have now backed an extension of Article 50 and for another referendum to take place.

What could be interesting is whether a new line will come from the Scottish Conservative benches.

So far Tory MSPs have been foursquare behind the prime minister's deal, warning that this is the only way to prevent a no deal Brexit.

What else is happening at Holyrood this week?

Tuesday - mesh implants

Bookending the Brexit debate will be topical questions and a member's debate led by Labour MSP Neil Findlay.

He is highlighting reports that the Scottish government has declined support from a mesh removal expert.

Image caption The mesh implants are used to ease incontinence and to support organs

Vaginal mesh implants are used by surgeons to treat conditions which some women suffer from, typically after childbirth.

But their use was stopped in 2018 after an implant was listed as an underlying cause of death of a woman in August.

Dr Dionysios Veronikis has developed skills and instruments that allow for the full removal of a mesh implant, a procedure not currently available across all health boards.

The Scottish government has said the decision to remove mesh is made by the patient and her doctor, with specialist centres located in NHS Greater Glasgow and NHS Lothian.

In the morning, Brexit preparation is hotting up with all five committee scheduled to meet considering secondary legislation around it.

The economy committee will hear from Economy Secretary Derek Mackay on regulations to bring EU public procurement rules into domestic law.

Before this, the committee will be taking evidence from construction experts and apprentices about the impact of the sector on the Scottish economy.

Wednesday - ASN in schools

The Scottish Tories have the floor on Wednesday afternoon with two debates.

The first will cover the early years, while the second will be on rural affairs. Information on the specifics will be published later.

Before this, finance and environment ministers will face portfolio questions.

The evening's member's debate is being led by SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald, highlighting Marie Curie's 33rd annual great daffodil appeal.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The education committee said a lack of resources meant the mainstreaming policy was not working as intended

In the morning, the education committee continues its inquiry into additional support needs in school education.

Its members warned in 2017 that there was a lack of support for children with additional needs in many council areas across Scotland.

This inquiry is assessing whether progress has been made in the last two years, taking evidence from two charities - Enable and the National Autistic Society Scotland - as well as the Scottish Secondary Teacher's Association.

Thursday - council funding

An hour on Thursday will be spent discussing the Local Government Finance Order, which allocates funding to each of the 32 councils in Scotland for 2019-20.

The opposition benches will insist this is not enough while the Scottish government will highlight the amount received by every council will go up.

But since the Budget Bill was passed last week, this debate is simply the final part of that process and will not in effect change anything.

The weekly performance of first minister's questions takes place at noon - and MSP Alison Johnstone gets her first question as co-leader of the party.

Afterwards, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing leads a debate on settled status fees, which the UK government decided to scrap in January.

Rural ministers face portfolio questions at 2pm, in a change of scheduling from its usual Wednesday position.

International Women's Day will be marked by MSPs after the council funding debate.

Image copyright PA

In the morning, school children from Parkhead Primary School will give evidence to MSPs about first aid training.

They will be joined by representatives from St Andrew's First Aid who are calling for the training to be given to all primary school children.

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