Hello and welcome to The Midge, the e-bulletin that takes a bite out of politics in Scotland and elsewhere. 

Today

  • Health chiefs warn rates rises will hit services
  • Scots Tory leader says Trump victory was ‘massive shock’
  • Labour deputy: revival in Scotland could take years
  • Ryanair boss tells Nicola Sturgeon to forget indyref2

06.00 BBC Today headlines

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Former admiral Robert Harward turns down Trump offer to be national security adviser … MPs urged to block government plans to make it more difficult for firms to win appeals against business rates … Tony Blair claims it is his “mission” to change minds on BrexitTheresa May tells EU leaders UK will not cherry pick as it leaves … UK scientists seek closer co-operation with US after Brexit … Police officers filmed beating protester in Hong Kong jailed.  

07.00 BBC Good Morning Scotland

Harward ... Blair to say context more credible for Scots indy campaign post Brexit ... M8 diversion starts tonight at Bailleston ... Facebook chief Zuckerberg publishes 'manifesto' ... Funeral today for man who died in Milngavie house fire on New Year's Day ... 350 homes in Govanhill to be upgraded and made available for social housing ... Scientists discover tunnels under Edinburgh extend further than thought. 

Front pages

HeraldScotland:

In The Herald, health correspondent Helen McArdle reports that health chiefs raised the alarm over rates rises last October, to no avail.

The Mail says while small businesses are suffering from rates rises, Amazon has had its bill cut by £10,000 at its Gourock warehouse. 

SNP faces revolt over business rates rise” is the splash in the Telegraph, which picks up on The Herald’s story about hotelier Stewart Spence leading a boycott over increases. 

Exclusive: “EU open to a deal for Scotland” is the headline in The National. Andrew Learmonth reports that the EU is ready to do a separate Brexit deal with Scotland, according to leaked European Parliament negotiating documents. 

The Times reports that spending on alcohol and cigarettes has almost halved in 15 years. The amount spent by Scots has dipped by more than 3% - from £15.10 a week to £14.60.

The Guardian previews Tony Blair’s speech today in which the former PM says it is his “mission” to convert Leavers to Remainers. 

HeraldScotland:

The Evening Times drills down into the details of Glasgow's new budget. 

Camley’s cartoon

HeraldScotland:

Camley feels the sun on his face, the wind in his hair ...  and the plastic pellets between his toes.

FFS: Five in five seconds

What’s the story? Jaws have now been lifted off the floor following a  Trump press conference that had observers once again reaching for the word “extraordinary”. 

Short and sweet? 76 minutes. 

Key quotes? Take your pick from:

“I inherited a mess”; 

“The press are out of control”; 

“I have nothing to do with Russia”; 

“I am the least anti-semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life”

“I am the least racist person”;

“This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine”

Anything else? He said his wife Melania feels very strongly about “women’s issues and difficulties”; that she and his daughter Ivanka were working together on this and “they are not doing this for money”; and that his travel ban fell victim to a “bad court”. Oh, and he wrongly claimed he had won the greatest number of electoral college votes since Reagan, and asked a black reporter if she could set up a meeting with black Congressmen and women, saying: “Are they friends of yours?” There was also a tussle with the BBC's Jon Sopel, who was greeted by the president with the comment "Here's another beauty". 

Reaction? Plenty of it. The heat generated by Tweeters tapping out posts must have punched another hole in the ozone layer. Here are some of the notables:

Afore Ye Go

HeraldScotland:

"The possibility of the break up of the UK - narrowly avoided by the result of the Scottish referendum - is now back on the table, but this time with a context much more credible for the independence case."

Tony Blair, in a speech today to pro-Remain campaign group Open Britain. 

HeraldScotland:

4000 plus

The number of letters Commons leader John Bercow has received about his decision to effectively ban Donald Trump from addressing Parliament during his planned state visit. Of these, 3,227 were supportive, while 854 opposed his position. Freedom of information request. PA/PA Wire.

HeraldScotland:

"Essential party meetings”

The reason given by a Ukip spokesman for party leader and Stoke Central by-election candidate Paul Nuttall’s no show at a hustings. Mr Nuttall is facing calls to resign as an MEP over inaccurate claims that he lost close friends in the Hillsborough disaster. 

HeraldScotland:

"We don't want to get into a new Cold War. That's something London and Washington are completely at one on. But nor do we want Russian behaviour to continue as it is.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after his first meeting with the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson during the G20 summit in Bonn. Yui Mok/PA Wire

HeraldScotland:

"It's sad to think of black dogs being less appealing simply because of the colour of their coat, but we hope that our knitters will be able to kit them out in coats of many colours and improve the chances of them being rehomed more quickly.”

Scottish Women’s Institutes national chairman Christine Hutton on a new initiative to make colourful jackets for black dogs to make them easier for the SSPCA to rehome. It is thought black dogs may be more difficult to rehome because they do not photograph well. Ross Johnston/SSPCA/PA

HeraldScotland:

"It's like learning that Father Christmas isn't real for the first time.”

Today presenter Nick Robinson lets the cat out of the bag during an item on a behind the scenes event for Archers fans. He later went on Twitter to say Santa did exist and any suggestion to the contrary was “fake news”. Yui Mok/PA Wire

Thanks for reading. Twitter: @alisonmrowat