Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.
At a vote in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Humza Yousaf is set to be confirmed as Scotland’s sixth First Minister. At 37, he will also become its youngest, as well as its first Muslim leader. But he also faces some serious challenges – not least from within his own party, who have lambasted him on his own track record. During the leadership contest, SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes told him: “You were transport minister and the trains were never on time, when you were justice secretary the police were stretched to breaking point, and now as health minister we’ve got record high waiting times”. Despite being seen as the “continuity candidate” taking the reins from Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Yousaf insists he is his “own man and will do things my own way”. His leadership will be put to the test swiftly, with his first FMQs this Thursday. We’ll take a look at what we can expect from him and the challenges he faces, after the news.
Today’s news, and why it matters
Suella Braverman is positioning herself to be the defender of right-wing Conservatives, party insiders said as the Government was forced to deny claims she is acting as a “sock puppet” for rebels on controversial Channel migration laws. One Tory insider said the report could work in her favour. “A cynic would say it’s quite a good story for Suella in that the right would love her even more,” they said.
The company behind the oil leak into Poole Harbour has a history of at least three pollution incidents spanning ten years, i can reveal. A major incident was declared on Sunday when 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, including oil, flooded into the world’s second largest natural harbour. Local councillor Chris Rigby told i: “This is unacceptable. Wytch Farm has been an accident waiting to happen for years.”
Rishi Sunak’s plans to launch an “NFT for Britain” have been quietly dropped, the Government has admitted – months after officials insisted to i that it had not been killed off. Tory minister Andrew Griffith said: “In consultation with HM Treasury, the Royal Mint is not proceeding with the launch of a Non-Fungible Token at this time but will keep this proposal under review.”
Jurors may be suffering trauma following exposure to disturbing videos or photos used as evidence during criminal trials, but there is a worrying lack of support for them, Parliament will hear this week. Efforts to identify at-risk jurors and pre-trial education about trauma are among potential safeguards being proposed by Baroness Berridge. She told i: “Twenty or 30 years ago, you would hear verbal descriptions in court – now, many rapes are filmed.”
A green technology is poisoning Welsh rivers, despite being hailed as an environmentally friendly way of dealing with waste, campaigners have warned. Anaerobic digesters are widely regarded as a safe and clean way to process food and farming waste, and even small quantities of sewage. Gail Davies-Walsh, of the Welsh Rivers Trust, told i: “The end product is a really, highly super-concentrated digestate and we need to understand what we should be doing with that much better.”
Three big things on Humza Yousaf’s agenda:
How he tackles the issue of Scottish Independence: Humza Yousaf said yesterday that “the people of Scotland need independence now more than ever before” and would ask Rishi Sunak for a referendum “straight away”. He added: “I hope we can get independence within five years.” But aside from the immediate rejection from Downing St (“I think you know our well-established position on this,” the PM’s spokesman said), Mr Yousaf faces other challenges in getting voters on his side for indyref2. John Curtice, writing for i, points out that polling during the leadership contest showed “relatively little enthusiasm for Mr Yousaf among those currently opposed to independence”. “That is bound initially at least to put him at something of a disadvantage in any effort to win round those currently opposed to independence,” he writes. Mr Yousaf’s aim to push support for leaving the UK to a level where it is consistently higher than 50 per cent has also drawn criticism. Alex Salmond has warned him against moving too slowly, saying “the constitutional issue cannot be kicked into the long grass yet again”.
Gender reforms: Unlike with independence, Mr Yousaf is expected to continue the work of Nicola Sturgeon when it comes to the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would make it easier for people to change their legal gender. He has previously stated he would challenge the UK Government’s decision to veto the legislation as long as legal advice is that the case can be won, and reiterated that commitment on Monday. “I see it as a veto, as a power grab by the UK Government. I don’t think they have any right to use that,” he said. “My starting principle is to challenge that.”
Restoring the reputation of the SNP: In October 2020, support for the SNP was at 58 per cent. Now, some polls show it at just 40 per cent. According to YouGov, John Curtice explains here, only 35 per cent now trust the SNP administration to make the right decisions about schools and education, down from 47 per cent two years ago. Similarly, now only 30 per cent believe the Scottish Government is handling the NHS well, down from 48 per cent before the pandemic. Another poll, by Ipsos, found half of adults in Scotland felt things were going in the wrong direction, with just a quarter saying the country was on the right path. “He takes office at a point when the Scottish public is feeling pretty gloomy about the direction of their country, and negative about the Scottish Government performance across a range of key areas,” Rachel Ormston, research director at Ipsos in Scotland, said. “Addressing these challenges and turning around public perceptions, particularly on the NHS and cost of living, will no doubt feature strongly on his first to-do list.” Chris Green, i‘s Scotland editor, says there are some fears the SNP may have reached its “high water mark”. You can read his full analysis here.
Around the world
A suspect wielding two “assault-style” rifles has shot dead three children all aged nine, and three adults including the head teacher at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville. The suspect was identified as Audrey Hale, 28, who was shot dead after being “engaged by” officers within 15 minutes of the incident being reported. The victims were identified late on Monday as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, and adults Cynthia Peak, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; and Mike Hill, 61.
Israel’s government postponed plans for judicial reforms after mass protests and a historic strike shut down industries across the country on Monday. Video footage also showed members of Israeli commando units staging an underwater protest in the depths of the Red Sea, against the government’s judicial overhaul.
Actor Orlando Bloom has praised the “incredible stoic nature” of the Ukrainian people in a visit to Kyiv. The 46-year-old Briton, who is a goodwill ambassador for Unicef, met with President Volodymr Zelensky and said he was rooting for him to “go win the war”.
A Dutch sperm donor is being sued over claims he may have increased the risk of accidental inbreeding. Jonathan Jacob Meijer is accused of fathering more than 500 children, and now lawyers for mothers who have had children after being allegedly duped are seeking the support of judges to stop him.
Tiny glass beads dotted across the moon may contain a precious resource that could provide water or even rocket fuel for exploring astronauts in the future. The glass beads are embedded with potentially billions of tonnes of water, which could be extracted. “This is one of the most exciting discoveries we’ve made,” said Mahesh Anand, a professor of planetary science and exploration at the Open University.
Watch out for…
Jeremy Corbyn – as Labour’s governing body votes on Keir Starmer’s proposal to block him from running for the party at the next general election.
Thoughts for the day
The asylum Bill is becoming a Tory made trap, and Rishi Sunak is walking straight into it, writes Paul Waugh.
Scottish politics wasn’t for people like me – that’s why Humza Yousaf becoming SNP leader matters so much, writes Ayesha Hazarika.
Whether she wins or loses in court, Gwyneth Paltrow has ruined her reputation, argues Simon Kelner.
Succession season 4: What’s hot and what’s not, from maths to ‘ludicrously capacious bags’. The Roys are back to fight it out one final time. As the season develops, who – and what – will emerge victorious?
The Big Read
Romance scammers are using AI-generated images to trick victims, an expert warns. One person had £350,000 stolen by a fraudster who they believed they were in a legitimate two-year relationship with.
How Antonio Conte failed at Tottenham. The ‘serial winner’ leaves Spurs back where they started – with no trophies, muddled recruitment and boring football, writes Katherine Lucas.
Something to brighten your day
Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Uranus will appear “in a neat line across the sky” this week. The first three will be visible to the naked eye, while the other two planets will be better seen through a telescope. The planets will line up near the moon, to the West.