Newspaper review: Press pessimistic over Budget


There is an air of pessimism in some newspapers' coverage of the prospects for next week's Budget, with reports of a gloomy forecast for economic growth and a steady decline of the pound.

The Times reports that the Chancellor George Osborne has been hit by a plunging forecast for economic growth as he considers his options.

According to the paper this will leave his hopes of reducing borrowing on a "knife-edge and open him to a fresh assault from Labour".

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls tells the Telegraph that Mr Osborne should cut income tax insisting that a reduction in the basic rate, funded by a temporary rise in borrowing, would ultimately pay for itself by sparking growth.

Mr Balls tells the paper: "Something must be done now... if Britain is to avoid a triple-dip recession".

The Daily Mail leads with the news that one of the two men jailed for life for the racist murder of the black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, has dropped his appeal against conviction.

Detectives are expected to consider visiting Gary Dobson in prison to urge him to turn in the rest of the gang that killed Stephen in 1993, according to the paper.

Unnecessary deaths

A report that the government is planning to introduce a new criminal offence, to stop NHS hospitals "fiddling" official figures in the wake of the scandal at the Mid-Staffordshire trust is the main story for the Telegraph.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is quoted as saying that trusts need to be held to account if they are caught deliberately manipulating information about death rates or waiting times.

According to the paper, trusts could be fined millions of pounds and managers jailed for doing so. And it says the sanctions will form part of the government's response to the Francis report into unnecessary deaths at Stafford Hospital.

The Sun salutes the heroism of a British soldier who is to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for protecting his comrades in a battle in Afghanistan. His bravery is said to have been "beyond words" in an action against the Taliban last year.

Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 23, is pictured on the front pages of both the Sun and the Times.

The Sun claims that L/Cpl Ashworth, who was killed in a grenade explosion, is only the tenth British soldier to have been awarded the ultimate recognition for gallantry since World War II.

An estimated 600 fresh allegations of phone-hacking incidents at the defunct News of the World are being investigated by detectives, according to the Guardian.

The paper says officers had expected to conclude their investigations under Operation Weeting this year. but as a result of the new information, their work is now expected to continue into 2015.

Pope Francis is still in the headlines three days after becoming the Catholic Church's first leader from Latin America.

The Daily Express is among some papers reporting that David Cameron expressed disagreement on Friday with the view of the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires that the Falkland Islands belonged to Argentina.

Tension over press reform

According to the Times although the new Pope's views are less vehement than those of the Argentine government, his election at a time of heightened tension over the islands may cause unease in London.

The Independent describes the coalition as "close to breaking point" in the row about press regulation.

In the paper's words "Tory anger boiled over" after Nick Clegg joined forces with Labour to support plans for a strengthened royal charter, underpinned by statute, to create an independent regulator.

Conservative sources are said to have accused the deputy prime minister of "massive political game playing." The Daily Mail accuses the pressure group, Hacked Off, of waging a secret campaign to wreck an agreement between all three main party leaders.

The Times speaks of a "frantic campaign" by Downing Street to rescue Mr Cameron from a damaging defeat when MPs vote on the issue on Monday.

It says a group of Conservative MPs who have expressed support for enshrining the new newspaper watchdog in law will be ordered to change their minds by the whips this weekend.

With the outcome on a knife-edge, The Times reports that the Welsh Secretary, David Jones, has been forced to fly back from a visit to Japan.

Punctuation mark

On a lighter note, the Independent carries a front page picture of the moment when the former Cardinal Bergoglio returned to the Rome hostel where he'd been staying in order to pay his bill and check out. The caption reads: "Anything from the minibar sir?"

The papers have mounted a spirited defence of the apostrophe, in view of proposals by a local authority in Devon to ban the use of the punctuation mark in new road and street names.

Mid-Devon District Council is considering the move to avoid confusion.

The Times insists the apostrophe plays an invaluable role in bringing clarity to the English language.

The Express accuses Mid-Devon of taking "the easy way out" on the rules of grammar. "Another redoubt has fallen" laments the Telegraph.

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