Impressionist Rory Bremner is in negotiations to create an independence debate comedy special, starring Alex Salmond as “a version of Iranian President Ahmadinejad.”

The Edinburgh-born comedian, most famous for his portrayals of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and for his work on Spitting Image, Mock the Week and Bremner, Bird and Forture, is now moving back to Scotland to work on his Salmond impression.

Dave Thompson, the SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who has three major ski centres in his consituency, has today welcomed the Chancellors announcement which will mean a cut of VAT resulting in cheaper ski lift passes for the tens of thousands that ski and board on the slopes of Scotland’s mountains.

Mr Thompson has long canvassed the UK Government to remove the VAT on ski centres’ transportation systems, and bring the levy in line with European ski resorts.

Mr Thompson said:

“I have been in touch with HM Treasury for well over a year now with the support of my friends in the snow-sports industry in Scotland.  It is essential for the long term viability of the Scottish Snow-sports industry that the unfair imposition of VAT should be corrected – to bring it in line with Europe.

“Obviously the pressure we have applied has had a major impact on the Chancellor’s announcement today, and I commend him for taking note of this.

“The reduction to 5% is a welcome step in the right direction and represents a big U-turn by the Tory-Lib Dem Government and its increasingly loose hold on Danny Alexander’s constituency of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey.”

First Minister Alex Salmond’s decisive policy to forgo a referendum over the future of the monarchy in Scotland has been praised by leading academics as “the right approach”.

Speaking on Newsnight Scotland, Professor of Scottish history Tom Devine said, “The current queen is extremely popular; to add the issue of Republicanism into the current debate on independence, would muddy the waters. 

First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed the announcement that a debate will be held in the Scottish Parliament to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.

The news comes on the day the Queen addressed both Houses of Parliament in London to mark her 60 years on the throne.

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP has warned that UK Government cuts to emergency towing vessels will put lives at risk after a Dutch ship ran aground on North Uist on Monday night, just days after the UK Government had withdrawn tugboat services from the Hebrides.

MV Flintspirit, which was carrying a cargo of steel and wood, ran aground late last night and, after refloating several hours later, was escorted to Stornoway by the Barra and Stornoway Lifeboats.