Mehdi's Morning Memo: EU Will Play 'Hardball' With Scotland

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond during the Scotland's Future stakeholder engagement event at the EICC, Edinburgh.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond during the Scotland's Future stakeholder engagement event at the EICC, Edinburgh.
Gordon Terris/The Herald/WPA-Rota

The five things you need to know on Thursday 12 December...


European Union states will not simply "roll over" and let Scotland join, the British government's chief legal adviser on Scottish law has warned. In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, Lord Wallace, the Advocate General, said he expected Spain (amongst others) to play "hardball" during any negotiations. The Lib Dem peer also revealed that a Scottish firm had withdrawn an invitation for him to speak at a company dinner following pressure from the SNP. He also urged the pro-union campaign to be less "negative" and confirmed Scottish peers would be able to remain members of the House of Lords following independence - as long as they moved to the UK.

Lord Wallace also took, light hearted, swipe at Alex Salmond. The peer said of the first minister: "He doesn’t walk on water as sometimes people think he does. Maybe he even does himself."

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan walked into a tree while trying to take a selfie on his Nokia 2210.


MPs had to right to set their own pay taken away from them because they were found out to be cheating the system. Now the independent body that sets their pay, Ipsa, wants to give them a pay rise. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg do not think this is such a smart PR move for parliament. The prime minister does not want to annoy his backbenchers too much by telling them they can not accept the extra cash - as a lot of them already don't like him that much. And the Labour leader has urged Cameron to attend immediate cross party talks on how best to tell Ipsa to shut the hell up. In short. It's a complete mess that somehow will probably end up with poor MPs not being able to keep up the payments on their moat or feed their ducks.

Writing in The Times, Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said: "I can see why some would want to wish the issue away, hoping we will do nothing or that a 'cross-party' review will provide the cover for kicking it into the long grass, just as happened with party funding years ago.


Sadiq Khan, Labour's shadow justice secretary, has attacked fellow Labour MPs including Tessa Jowell and Diane Abbott for "playing ego politics" as they appear to tussle over the Labour nomination for London mayor. The internal-party battle is something of a phoney war at present, as none of the big hitters have formally declared their intention to run.

In an interview with the New Statesman, Khan explained he dropped out of a recent London mayoral hustings as he had "no interest in being involved in a beauty parade". The MP for Tooting conveniently also holds the shadow London brief, giving him legitimate cause to comment on issues facing the capital whenever he likes. Which would come in handy if one were considering a bid to succeed Boris Johnson.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...: WATCH: Airline's Amazing Father Christmas Stunt


The Danish prime minister has defended taking a selfie photograph with president Obama and David Cameron. The Times reports Helle Thorning-Schmidt said: “There were plenty of pictures taken that day of Obama, and I just thought it would be fun [to take my own]. It shows perhaps that when heads of state and government meet, we are also just normal people who can have fun together.”

Yesterday Cameron explained why he agreed to the picture. "When a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say yes," he told MPs. Thorning-Schmidt is married to Neil Kinnock's son. And now Ed Miliband is in on the act (see below).


George Osborne will be grilled today on the fine print of his Autumn Statement as members of the powerful Treasury Committee pick over his claims that the Government's economic plan is working. The chancellor said critics of his austerity programme had been ''proved comprehensively wrong'' when he delivered his assessment of the economy last week.

Experts have warned that growth is being fuelled by consumer spending rather than a business boom and have also warned that Mr Osborne could have difficulty making his sums add up following close scrutiny of the measures that were set out.Labour insists that the economic revival is not being felt in people's pockets.


@JoeyEssex_ With my mate @Ed_Miliband at the #Millies #SELFIE pic.twitter.com/E63ofKCvcE

@LordAshcroft I have a new phone holder! pic.twitter.com/oUOcOw1yo2 [It's a cat holding his phone]

@PickardJE Miliband nearly quit as energy secretary in protest re Heathrow expansion. Now his spokesman says he is "neutral"? How's that not a change?


John McTernan in The Times: Cameron must shake up the No 10 shambles

Danny Alexander in The Independent: The Liberal Democrats are not lurching to the left or the right

Sue Cameron in The Daily Telegraph: Give Lady Ashton the credit she deserves

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol