Katy Balls

Nicola Sturgeon’s nightmare week

Nicola Sturgeon's nightmare week
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It's only days before the Holyrood election campaign gets underway and Nicola Sturgeon is facing one of the most testing weeks of her political career. Two verdicts are due in on whether the First Minister broke the ministerial code over the Alex Salmond inquiry. 

One is the finding of Scottish parliament's Alex Salmond committee made up of MSPs which is due on Tuesday. The panel are widely expected to say she did mislead parliament – and Sturgeon and her allies will likely dismiss it as politically motivated. Already this line is being pushed out by the First Minister and SNP politicians.

The verdict that will be harder to dismiss is the one Sturgeon is due to find out today from James Hamilton QC's independent inquiry. Sturgeon has cited this inquiry as the one of substance with Ireland's former chief prosecutor to decide whether she misled parliament or broke other conduct rules for ministers. 

Were Hamilton to find that Sturgeon knowingly misled parliament, it would be the worst case scenario for the First Minister. Many think she would not survive it in the medium term at least. If she was found to have misled unintentionally, it will be much easier for Sturgeon to respond to. If she gave the version of events as she understood it, Sturgeon's problems will ease.

What ever Hamilton says, Sturgeon is likely to face a no confidence vote in Holyrood on Wednesday. The Scottish Conservatives are pushing this – if she doesn't resign in advance which is viewed as very unlikely. For now, however, this vote will be the least of Sturgeon's worries when it comes to her horror week as the Greens who work with Sturgeon have suggested they won't play along, with the party's Patrick Harvie suggesting it a stunt. 

Will the First Minister survive the week? The severity of Sturgeon's situation ought to be known by end of play today. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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