Independent on Sunday editor axed amid moves to merge Independent and Standard editorial teams

Job losses expected at both titles.

The Independent on Sunday and Independent are to merge, and the new seven-day-title will have closer integration with the Evening Standard, reports Press Gazette's Dominic Ponsford.

Independent on Sunday editor John Mullin has been made redundant after five years at the title amid plans to merge it with the Monday to Saturday edition.

Further redundancies are in the offing as the Evening Standard and Independent editorial teams are also largely merged.

The cost cuts are needed to curb ongoing losses at The Independent and i, and to allow for investment which is needed for London Live – the Standard’s new TV station -  management has said.

Standard proprietors the Lebedevs last week were awarded the local TV licence for London – under the London Live brand - giving them access to Government funding and channel 8 on the Freeview box.

But while existing newspaper editorial staff will be expected to contribute to the new channel – the move will also be accompanied by a reduction in editorial numbers on the newspaper brands.

Read more at Press Gazette

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.