Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, prepared a paper on the four areas of concern between Britain and the European Union, as formulated by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, for the EU to chew on at a summit in February. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, said that to hold a referendum on the EU in June would be ‘disrespectful’ to elections being held in Scotland. Tony Blair, the former prime minister, said he thought Scotland would leave the Union if the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. Lord Parkinson, who as Cecil Parkinson was party chairman when the Conservatives won a landslide in 1983, died, aged 84. Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Worsley died aged 55 after being rescued from his attempt to cross Antarctica unsupported.
George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that an agreement by Google to pay £130 million tax for its activities in Britain over the past 10 years was a ‘major success’. Boris Johnson MP said: ‘Everyone is complaining that it isn’t enough.’ RBS set aside £2.5 billion for its past iniquities, leaving it with a loss for last year. After a woman claimed she had a winning lottery ticket for £33 million, bought in Worcester, but half-obliterated in the wash, Camelot said that hundreds of people had claimed the prize with lost or spoilt tickets. A primary school in Darlington appealed to parents to stop wearing pyjamas to drop off their children in the morning.
Following the report by Sir Robert Owen, the former High Court judge, into the murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, which concluded that he was killed by two Russians, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, and that the murder was ‘probably approved by’ President Vladimir Putin, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said that the assets of Messrs Lugovoi and Kovtun would be immediately frozen. A week after 12 sperm whales were washed up on the coast on Holland and Germany, five were beached in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, on the tail of one of which someone sprayed ‘CND’ and attempted its symbol, only to outline the Mercedes logo by mistake.
The European Commission backed a proposal to seal off Greece from the Schengen area in order to stop migrants advancing northwards. ‘We do not intend to become a cemetery of souls here,’ Ioannis Mouzalas, the Greek minister for migration, said. At least 42 migrants drowned in one night trying to reach Greece, but more than 2,000 a day succeeded. Ahmet Davutoglu, the Prime Minister of Turkey, met Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, and told her that his country wanted more than the €3 billion that the EU had agreed to pay it to help deal with the migrant crisis. The Danish parliament voted to confiscate asylum seekers’ valuables, though it scrupled at removing wedding rings. Europol said that the Islamic State had set up secret training camps in Europe to train recruited refugees to carry out terrorist attacks. Dozens of migrants boarded a P&O ferry, Spirit of Britain, at Calais, disrupting services for hours. The Capitoline Museum in Rome covered ancient nude statues when the visiting President Hassan Rouhani of Iran held a press conference there.
The Malaysian attorney-general’s office found that £479 million paid into the bank account of Najib Razak, the Prime Minister, in 2013 was a personal gift from the Saudi royal family; so that was all right. Adam Szubin, who oversees US Treasury sanctions against Russia, said that the behaviour of President Vladimir Putin was ‘a picture of corruption’. In New York, 27 inches of snow fell, and at Glengary, West Virginia, it reached 42 inches. A family finding a piglet stuck in the snow took it back to their ski-resort hotel in Maryland and fed it bananas to general applause on social media. The Zika virus, which causes birth defects and is caught from the Aedes aegypti mosquito, was said to be spreading in most American countries.
The Libyan parliament that is recognised abroad, meeting in Tobruk, voted against a list of ministers proposed as a government under a deal negotiated by the UN to unite warring factions. Meanwhile the Islamic State attacked Libyan oil facilities. Syrian government forces took the southern town of Sheikh Miskeen with the help of Russian air attacks. French taxi drivers blocked roads in protest against services provided via computer apps such as Uber. Laszlo Bajzat, a Hungarian fireman, set a new record by swimming for 27 metres under the ice in a frozen lake. CSH