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Swinney Takes Helm: Scotland’s New Leader on Gender Recognition Reforms and Independence Timeline Amid Brexit Fallout

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Scotland's freshly appointed chief, John Swinney, has stated that the proposed changes to gender recognition laws are unfeasible for implementation. Additionally, Swinney expressed optimism that Scottish independence could be achieved within five years, attributing this possibility to the impacts of Brexit and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Political correspondent @alixculbertson

Friday, May 10, 2024, 1:

Scotland's freshly appointed premier informed Sky News that the contentious gender recognition changes "cannot be executed."

John Swinney, newly appointed as First Minister, was scrutinized regarding his position on gender recognition issues following the passage of a 2022 bill by MSPs that eases the process for individuals to legally change their gender without requiring a medical diagnosis.

The UK authorities prevented the legislation from being enacted, and the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from the Scottish government to have the matter reviewed judicially.

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When questioned about his commitment to advancing the bill, Mr. Swinney informed Sky News, "The truth is that the Supreme Court has ruled we are unable to legislate on this matter. Therefore, we cannot proceed with the legislation."

The person who held the office before him, Humza Yousaf, had earlier expressed his desire to collaborate with the UK Labour Party to change the legislation before the upcoming general election.

Scottish officials stated that the program, known as self-ID, was designed to simplify processes for the transgender community, though advocates for women's rights argued that it could compromise their rights.

This week, Mr. Swinney appointed Kate Forbes, a previous contender for party leadership, as his deputy, a move that has stirred some tension among party members. Forbes had earlier expressed opposition to gay marriage, stating she would have voted against it, though she clarified she wouldn't attempt to repeal the law should she ascend to the position of first minister.

Mr. Swinney aimed to alleviate concerns within the LGBT community by highlighting his support for same-sex marriage and his role in implementing inclusive education programs during his tenure as education secretary.

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Mr. Swinney stated, "From my perspective, the most crucial aspect is demonstrating to the LGBT community that the Scottish government supports them."

"We have stood with them and will continue to stand with them in the future."

A spokesperson for the Scottish government stated: "The Scottish Parliament has approved the Gender Recognition Reform Bill."

"If the UK government were to remove its legal barrier—the section 35 order—the legislation would be enacted. However, the present UK government has indicated they will not do so. The stance of the Scottish government is straightforward: the UK government ought to rescind the section 35 order. Despite this, they have stated their intention not to lift the order, and as long as it remains in place, enacting the legislation is legally unfeasible."

Stay informed with the most recent updates from the UK and internationally by tuning into Sky News.

Autonomy 'may be realized within five years'

Mr. Swinney expressed his belief that Scotland might separate from the United Kingdom within five years, citing Brexit and the cost of living crisis as significant factors.

He explained to Sky News, "I believe that independence can be achieved within that timeframe as the case for it is quite persuasive."

"When examining the major challenges confronting Scotland today, two issues stand out: the impact of rising living costs and the consequences of Brexit."

"Those two significant strategic issues are causing substantial economic and social harm to Scotland due to poor choices made in Westminster."

"Autonomy provides the solution to this issue."

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He stated that Scotland was "compelled to leave the European Union despite our wishes," as the majority there had voted to stay.

"Had we been a sovereign nation, we could have engaged with Europe without enduring the significant disturbances we encountered," he further stated.

Mr. Swinney served as the deputy first minister alongside Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and first minister from 2014 until her resignation in 2023.

Ms. Sturgeon aimed to treat the upcoming general election as an informal second referendum on independence following the Supreme Court's decision that a vote could not proceed without approval from the UK government. However, it remains unclear what approach Mr. Swinney supports.

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