Newspaper review: Government's EU split in papers

Papers

Many of the newspapers return to the divisions within the Conservative party and the coalition over Europe.

The Daily Telegraph believes Nick Clegg's speech following the government's defeat in the Commons showed he is "on the wrong side of history".

The deputy prime minister, it says, remains "wedded to the aggrandisement of a bloated autocracy".

For the Sun, Mr Clegg's timing was extraordinary - and left the prime minister under siege from all sides "Stuck in the Middle with EU" it says.

The Independent also sees trouble ahead, with the rebellion adding to what it calls "the growing sense of a leader struggling to control his party".

But the Times believes it is Ed Miliband who will rue the decision to embarrass the government.

Rather than highlighting Tory problems over Europe, it says, Labour exposed its own by playing politics rather than planning for the future.

Tree fears

Ahead of Friday's Cobra emergency meeting on ash dieback disease, the Guardian carries criticisms from tree growers that the government is responsible for the disease reaching the UK.

It says forestry companies it spoke to said imports of ash trees were only necessary because chaotic government grants made it too hard for domestic nurseries to predict demand.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, warns that oak trees are now also at risk - with experts warning that what the paper calls "the symbol of England" are "under assault" from two killer diseases.

"Revenue cuts deal with tax evaders" is the lead for the Times, which says it has learnt that hundreds of people on Britain's so-called "Lagarde list" of secret Swiss bank account holders will escape prosecution.

HMRC, it says, is now offering immunity in exchange for settlement of tax bills and payment of a penalty - and has told the paper its handling of the list has been a "major success" as it maximises revenue.

The Independent is among several papers to report on what it calls the "questions raised" by the revelation that a former chief executive of the Serious Fraud Office received more than £400,000 in irregular payments.

The National Audit Office found that Phillippa Williamson's voluntary redundancy package was not approved by the Treasury, as required under Whitehall spending rules.

Mystery message

The Guardian is among those reporting on figures showing that the number of unmarried couples living together in the UK has doubled in less than two decades.

The Office for National Statistics also found that nearly a third of households now consist of only one person.

This prompts the Mail headline "Lonely UK". The paper sees the disintegration of marriage as a triumph for the "me generation" and what it calls the liberal orthodoxy that all lifestyle choices have equal value.

The Financial Times believes the research underlines the steady decline in the institution of marriage - and focuses on the fact that the largest rise in cohabitation outside marriage is among the over-65s, due to more divorces.

The Telegraph also says the recession is forcing tens of thousands of families to move into shared houses - with two or more families under one roof now the fastest growing type of household.

The Mail reports on the discovery of the remains of a rather unusual British spy - in a fire place in Surrey.

Attached to the leg of the homing pigeon's skeleton was a tiny red capsule, containing a coded message possibly destined for Bletchley Park.

For the Times, "the mystery of a pigeon that may have joined Monty's flying squad" could hold intriguing clues to British military operations against Nazi Germany.

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