Row over oil aid, David Cameron scents benefits deal in Brussels, and how is Barbie entering the body politic?

Hello and welcome to The Midge, your first bite of the day’s politics in Scotland and elsewhere.


Herald Scotland: Flag of the European Union.

  • Funding for Scots face transplant unit denied
  • Cameron heads to Brussels in search of benefits deal
  • Oil unions slate “next to nothing” Aberdeen aid
  • Rhodes statue to stay at Oxford
  • Councils split on Swinney deal

06.00 BBC Radio 4 Today headlines

Cameron deal … Type 45 frigates need new engines … Rhodes statue stays … Four in ten teachers in England, Wales, N Ireland suffer violence … Japan opts for negative interest rates … Last Land Rover Defender rolls off production line. 

07.00 BBC Good Morning Scotland

1800 homes lose power to Storm Gertrude … One in 10 ScotRail trains cancelled … Cameron in Brussels … Rocky start for Syrian peace talks … Holyrood committee won't back opt-out organ donation plan. 

Front pages

Herald Scotland:

Exclusive: Helen Puttick of The Herald reports on a Glasgow face transplant team ready to start work – but the NHS won’t fund it, claiming too few would use the service. The National highlights dismay over the UK Government’s help for the oil industry. Where are those “broad shoulders” of the Union, it asks. 

Herald Scotland: Exclusive: A test which could save the lives of more babies with a heart condition is routinely carried out by only two Scottish health boards, reports Caroline Wilson in the Evening Times. 

Amid the row over Google, the Scottish Daily Mail reports that Treasury Minister David Gauke has been flying round the world to “promote the UK tax system”. 

The FT predicts the PM will go for a June EU referendum after securing a deal on migrant benefits – but Eurosceptics are not happy. 

The Daily Record pictures Disneyland Paris. A man armed with two guns was arrested at a resort hotel yesterday. 

The Scotsman reports fears that Storm Gertrude could be the worst storm of winter. 

A committee of MSPs has rejected an opt-out approach to organ donation, reports theTimes. 

The Telegraph’s exclusive is that the statue of Cecil Rhodes will not be coming down, despite a student vote. Donors had threatened to withdraw bequests worth more than £100 million, reveals the paper. 

The Guardian pictures a mother and baby in Brazil as the Zika virus, which causes microcephaly, is confirmed in 23 countries. One World Health Organisation scientist fears there could be four million cases by year end. 

Camley’s cartoon

Herald Scotland:

Camley strikes oil on government help for Aberdeen. 

Need to know

Just as well he has open Eurostar tickets, otherwise David Cameron would be racking up a fortune in travel costs today. The PM was supposed to be in Stockholm and Copenhagen but at the last minute has opted to go to Brussels for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr Cameron is reported to be close to a deal on restricting migrant benefits, aka applying the so-called “emergency brake”. But permission to apply it will have to come from a majority of the 28 EU members, after the UK “proves” that it is under exceptional strain from migration. How will the likes of Greece, Poland and other eastern members feel about that, never mind Mr Cameron’s eurosceptic MPs at home?


  • Brussels: David Cameron talks with Jean-Claude Juncker.
  • Geneva: UN lead peace talks on Syria resume. 

Talk of the steamie: the comment sections

Alison Rowat in The Herald wonders why we are surprised that Google and other mulitnationals take the biscuit on tax, Andrew Denholm examines the cost of not allowing the brightest overseas graduates to stay, while Ian McConnell looks at the job losses at Texas Instruments.

Kenny Farquharson in the Times says the Treasury must play fair in its dealings with John Swinney over fiscal powers. 

In the Guardian, Tim Lott announces he has turned 60. Being an old geezer is not all bad, he says. 

Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph finds a cautionary tale in Sweden when it comes to migration. 

Herald Scotland: Samantha Cameron visits the Pedro Club

Jan Moir in the Mail has taken a shine to Samantha Cameron on the Great Sport Relief Bake Off. She seems to be decent and genuine in way her husband never does, reckons Moir. 

Afore ye go

Herald Scotland:

“The elephant not in the room”.

How Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (above) referred to Donald Trump, who boycotted the channel’s presidential hopeful debate in Iowa last night. Mr Trump, who rowed with Kelly during the last Fox jaw-jaw, held a fundraiser for veterans down the road instead. 

Herald Scotland:

“We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”

Mattel unveils its new range of Barbies, which come in three body types – tall, curvy, and petite.

Herald Scotland:

"Our Speaker is descended from Romanian Jews, the Lords Speaker's family hails from Portugal. The families of the Business Secretary and the member for Tooting are from Pakistan … The Corbyns were Norman French, the Graylings were probably French-Huguenots and God knows where the Bryants came from. Can the Leader of the House confirm that we are all a bunch of migrants?”

Labour MP Chris Bryant (above) picks up on David Cameron’s PMQ comments during business questions.

Herald Scotland:

“I’ve got a couple of tickets booked for Antarctica. Because the last place that radioactivity reaches is Antarctica.”

Alex Salmond on his plans if Trump becomes president. The Mad World of Donald Trump, Channel 4. 

Herald Scotland:

"I wouldn't do it myself, I'd advise people to wear a coat and put some proper clothes on – it gets cold out there.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn enters the PJs at the school gates row. The Gazette, Middlesborough. 

Herald Scotland:

"I wear a cassock in public places. Who knows what I have got underneath it?”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, adds his tuppenceworth. 

Herald Scotland: Get The Pink for your Android device from the Google Play Store

“HMRC agreed that Google doesn’t have to pay much tax in Britain because it doesn’t have a ‘permanent establishment’ here. It does have offices with more than 1000 staff, a cinema and allotments attached to its grounds, but that hardly suggests ‘permanent’ – we all carry stuff like that around when we’re just passing through.”

Mark Steel, Independent. 

Herald Scotland:

£1.2 billion 

The record amount taken by British cinemas in 2015, the year of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Spectre. 

Herald Scotland:

"It's not that there aren't great stories to be told about women in their 40s, it's just that the big bosses in Hollywood feel that the demographic of moviegoers are less interested.”

Dad’s Army star Catherine Zeta-Jones. Mumsnet. 

Herald Scotland:

“Caricatures abound – ermine-clad, swilling champagne, swanning around your Lordships' house at the taxpayers' expense.”


The House of Lords is not like that at all, says Tory peer Lord Farmer

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