Newspaper headlines: 'Battle for Britain' at EU summit, joint enterprise law ruling and straight croissants

  • 19 February 2016

As summit talks continue over David Cameron's plans to reform the UK's relationship with the EU, Friday's papers take stock of events so far.

As he arrived in Brussels the prime minister said he was "battling for Britain". The way the Guardian sees it, Mr Cameron was embarking on the "biggest gamble of his premiership".

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But the Times says despite some tough talk, Mr Cameron gave ground to eastern European leaders over his proposals to limit child benefit payments. And in surprise move, it adds, Belgium and France are attempting to insert a "last chance clause" into any deal to ensure that the UK would never be allowed to reopen talks.

Still, according to the Independent, British sources say such a clause might be acceptable to the prime minister. It would allow him to go into the referendum calling for the UK to stay in the EU with the "clear message that voting to leave would mean just that".

The Daily Mirror says Mr Cameron has been gambling with the country's future. "Never has so much political capital been spent for so little gain," it says.

In the view of the Daily Mail, the fact Mr Cameron faced demands to further water down his plans proves the summit is a "shambles". In a leading article, the paper says the PM's brave promises of fundamental reform seem to be descending into "complete farce".

"You can't win prime minister," says the front page headline in the Daily Express. It urges Mr Cameron to be "honest... If he has secured a deal with the EU he must admit that it is not a victory but a pitiful surrender".

Other papers anticipate the confirmation of a date for the referendum. It could, says the Financial Times, be the "day of reckoning for wavering Conservative Eurosceptics" and force the party to confront the spectre that has long haunted it.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph says it understands at least 80 of Britain's FTSE 100 businesses are poised to come out in favour of staying in the EU. Scores of firms will reportedly agree to support the campaign regardless of the make-up of a deal. That would be a huge boost for the PM, it says.


Away from the draft text...

Four things political correspondents uncovered at the Brussels summit on Thursday:

  • London Mayor Boris Johnson is rumoured to be writing an article for Saturday's edition of the Daily Telegraph in which he will reveal his decision on whether to back the prime minister's reform plans - Financial Times
  • David Cameron came to the fight of his political life bearing a special gift for one of his fiercest critics. He presented Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel with a special set of Beatrix Potter books in French as a present for his newborn daughter - Times
  • The menu on Thursday evening saw EU leaders dine on avocado and shrimp; cod loin with a wheat beer emulsion and potato, and a light mango mousse with caramelised pineapple - Guardian
  • The seating plan for Friday morning's breakfast meeting has David Cameron sandwiched between the prime ministers of Malta and Estonia, with two of his chief opponents, French President Francois Hollande and Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka, sitting directly across the table - Daily Mirror

Eye-catching headlines

  • Sting has a top 100 hit with Tuscan red - The Times reports the British musician has been named as one of Italy's leading wine producers by a magazine for a vintage produced on his estate near Florence
  • 'Mumbler Churchill wouldn't win elections today' - The Independent records the assertion of actress Romola Garai that the wartime PM's eccentricities would rule him out of office now
  • James Bond's Aston Martin DB10 sold for £2.1m - but its new owner can't drive it on the road - The Daily Telegraph reports a car made specially for the latest 007 movie Spectre has gone under the hammer for charity in London

Legal history

The Supreme Court's ruling the joint enterprise law used in murder trials in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has been "wrongly interpreted" by the courts sparks much debate. Judges said a number of verdicts may be unsafe because people were convicted even if they did not inflict the fatal blow in a killing.

The Daily Mirror says the ruling will be welcomed by campaigners who believed it led to miscarriages of justice but leave the families of victims "rightly distraught".

The Guardian views it as the "clarification of a fine point". It says: "For the legal system to work effectively it is necessary that the law be fair, and be seen to be fair."

The Independent describes the decision as an important moment in legal history. "This ruling is not a 'let-off' for criminals, but an opportunity to have cases tried on a more nuanced, accurate basis."

The Sun says it understands the "potential flaw" in the law but worries about a flood of "spurious appeals".

In the opinion of the Daily Telegraph, joint enterprise provided a "legal and societal purpose" in dealing with the problem of gangs. Campaigners are deluding themselves if they believe a vast number of convicted criminals will be "vindicated", it adds, suggesting successful appeals may only result in the reduction of some murder convictions to manslaughter.

Image copyright EPA

In front page stories, the Daily Mirror and Sun both raise the possibility the two men convicted of murdering teenager Stephen Lawrence in south London in 1993 could use the Supreme Court ruling to launch an appeal. The Daily Mail, however, contends the evidence presented at their trial means it is unlikely the case will be affected by the development.


What the commentators say...

Media captionFormer trade minister Lord Digby Jones and journalist Henry Bonsu joined the BBC News Channel to review Friday's front pages

Au revoir to the 'croissant'

There is bemusement over the decision by supermarket giant Tesco to stop selling curved curved croissants in the UK.

According to executives, the traditional crescent-shaped croissant has fallen out of favour with British consumers who prefer the straight variety of the breakfast pastry because it is easier to spread with jam, says the Daily Telegraph.

"This finding is shocking," it adds.

The Guardian says the owner of a French bakery in London viewed the change with scepticism, while the Daily Mail notes the move has been mocked by social media users - particularly because croissant means "crescent" in French.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

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