LONDON: A majority of English people oppose Scotland continuing to use the pound if it votes to become independent in next month’s referendum, a survey showed yesterday. The question of whether Scotland could keep the pound if it leaves the United Kingdom has become a defining issue in the debate ahead of the vote on September 18. First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party (SNP) insist Scotland should have a formal, euro-style monetary union with what would remain of the United Kingdom — England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But the three main British parties reject any such arrangement. And 53 percent of respondents to a Future of England survey disagreed with Scotland keeping the pound if it goes it alone. Only 23 percent agreed that Scotland should continue to use the pound if it votes to quit the union. Alternative options that have been discussed are a new Scottish currency, continuing to use the pound unilaterally as some countries use the US dollar, or eventually joining the euro.
MOSCOW: Russia ordered the temporary closure of four McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow yesterday, a decision it said was over sanitary violations. The four restaurants ordered to suspend operations by the state food safety watchdog included the first ever McDonald’s in Russia, which opened in the last days of the Soviet Union, and which the company says is its most frequented in the world. Yesterday evening, the lights were off inside the restaurant — usually crammed with diners — and a sign on the door said it was shut “for technical reasons”. The watchdog, known in Russia as Rospotrebnadzor, said in a statement inspectors had found numerous sanitary violations.
JOHANNESBURG: A private hospital in South Africa admitted yesterday that it had carried out heart surgery on the wrong patient after a name mix-up. Local media said 83-year-old Rita du Plessis was being treated for a respiratory infection, but ended up in theatre for a procedure to remove excess moisture around her heart. Her doctor at Mediclinic in the central city of Kimberley had mixed up patients’ names in a phone discussion with the surgeon. “A misunderstanding between two specialists led to the wrong patient being operated on,” the hospital said. Beeld newspaper reported that the physician realised his mistake when the patient was already in theatre undergoing the surgery. Du Plessis was in the same ward as the patient who was supposed to be operated on. And both were under the care of the same physician. The doctor and the hospital have apologised for the mix-up.
PARIS: Former prime minister Alain Juppe joined the race to be the presidential candidate of France’s centre-right yesterday, posing a potential challenge both to a 2017 comeback bid by Nicolas Sarkozy and to the rise of the extreme right. Juppe’s declaration on his Internet blog also came as Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government returned from its summer break to a stalled economy and an opinion poll showing more than eight out of 10 voters have no confidence in its ability to fix it. “(We must) rally right from the first round (of the presidential election) the forces right and centre around a candidate who can face up to the National Front on the one side and the Socialist Party on the other,” his blog said. “If we are divided, the outcome of the first round will be uncertain and the consequences of the second round unpredictable,” said Juppe, whose Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) has been dogged by internal divisions.