Newspaper review: Papers focus on US concerns

Papers

The suggestion by a senior American official that Britain risks damaging its relationship with Washington if it leaves the EU makes the lead for the Guardian and the Financial Times.

The FT says US diplomats have been expressing concern about David Cameron's direction for months, as Washington views Britain as its most reliable ally in Brussels, willing to raise American concerns there.

According to the paper, there has also been discreet but equally anxious hand-wringing by some northern Europeans.

It says countries such as Finland and the Netherlands view Britain as free-market allies in Brussels deliberations.

In the leader columns, the Daily Mirror says the American warning, as well as Richard Branson's latest intervention, has suddenly put Europhobes on the back foot.

The paper believes the simplistic case for withdrawal disintegrates under even minor scrutiny.

For the Sun, Britain and America are old friends and have a right to speak frankly to each other.

But, it adds, that means we are entitled to tell our American friends to keep their noses out of any decision here on an EU referendum.

Democratic decision

The Times urges Belfast City Council not to allow violent protests to change its decision over flying the union flag.

It says the decision was a democratic one - and a compromise.

The nationalists did not want the flag flown over City Hall at all - the unionists wanted it fluttering every day.

Thus the solution to fly it on designated days ought to satisfy reasonable people, it believes.

Certainly a democratic decision should not be revoked by violence or the threat of violence, the paper adds.

The Independent reports that the leader of UKIP's youth organisation has been stripped of his post after expressing his support for gay marriage on an interview for the World At One on BBC Radio 4 earlier this month.

Olly Neville was told by the party leadership that his comments were "completely at odds with the party's policy" and risked "seriously setting back the party's current growth".

Mr Neville tells the paper he believes UKIP is on "the wrong side of history" over gay marriage.

Big freeze

The Daily Express and the Daily Mirror lead on a warning by forecasters of weeks of heavy snow.

The Express reports that the entire country faces a crippling big freeze that could last until the middle of February as winter finally arrives with a vengeance.

According to the Mirror, a freakishly cold spell is sweeping in from Russia.

And it has this message for the authorities: "For once, please, could all councils, airports, train companies and road chiefs do one small thing: Don't bury your heads!"

And finally, the Times tucks into news of the world's first "smart fork" - what it describes as one of the more bizarre inventions raising eyebrows at the world's leading gadget show in Las Vegas.

It costs £60 and claims to help people control their weight by monitoring the speed with which they eat their food.

Guzzle too quickly and the fork will buzz to tell you to slow down.

The president of its French manufacturer tells the paper people have never questioned how a fork works - apart from when it is not being used correctly.

"But we think the fork is evolving," says Andrew Carton.

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