Mubarak steps down as president

Egyptian president leaves Cairo * Armed forces handed power.

After last night's resignation-that-never-was, Hosni Mubarak has finally stood down as president of Egypt. The armed forces have been handed de facto control of the country.

Here is the short statement issued by Vice-President Omar Suleiman:

In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency. He has commissioned the armed forces council to direct the issues of the state.

The opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has described the events as "the greatest day of my life . . . The country has been liberated after decades of repression." He added that he expects a "beautiful" transition of power.

Few will be so sanguine. Mubarak may have gone, but the fight for democracy is far from over.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Scottish Parliament votes in favour of a second independence referendum

The UK government was quick to respond. 

The Scottish Parliament has voted for a second independence referendum by a margin of 10 votes on the eve of Westminster triggering Article 50. 

After hours of debate - postponed after last week's terrorism attack at Westminster - the MSPs voted 69 to 59 to back the First Minister's call to trigger Section 30 of the Scotland Act.

MSPs voted for a Green amendment which demands votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, but amendments by Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems were defeated. 

Nicola Sturgeon took Westminster by surprise in early March when she announced she would be seeking a second independence referendum for Scotland to decide before it was "too late to choose a different path". 

The Scottish Parliament can vote to demand a second referendum, it still needs permission from Westminster to hold one. So far, the Prime Minister has refused to countenance one before Brexit. After the vote, Scottish secretary David Mundell reinforced this message, suggesting a vote could not take place until the 2020s. 

However, some unionists quietly fear that a tussle between Westminster and Holyrood over powers will only play in the nationalists' favour. 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.