Newspaper headlines: Cameron's 'retreat', 'Black Friday' madness and lobster wars

By Andy McFarlane
BBC News


Immigration is the hot topic for a second consecutive day, as David Cameron's speech on the matter comes under scrutiny.

Some papers interpret the omission of a previously touted plan to cap the number of EU migrants entering Britain as a "retreat", which the Guardian attributes to a warning from Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Sun says the PM dropped the plan because his counterparts in Brussels would not consider it, it adding: "His stance makes sense in the horse-trading of EU politics. It makes less sense to voters, who will see anything short of regaining border controls as a cop out."

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Others focus on the speech itself, with the Daily Mail saying it was "beautifully crafted and full of common sense" but "five years overdue". The FT Weekend says Mr Cameron "wisely pulled back from the precipice" [of leaving the EU] and moved away from "crude" targets towards a "more nuanced appreciation of the different ways in which immigration bothers the British people".

However, the Independent says Mr Cameron should not have talked so tough by using the "nonsensical phrase 'nothing is ruled out' in relation to the UK's EU membership". It argues: "The UK should not be opening a serious negotiation by threatening to throw the toys out of the pram." The Times notes the PM has been accused of blackmail by politicians and press in parts of Europe.

The Daily Telegraph's Michael Deacon enjoys the comedy in the PM delivering his speech in a Staffordshire JCB plant: "For the first 25 minutes, he had to contend with the continual background drone of machinery. He had just about succeeded in making himself heard by opening his mouth extra wide and enunciating each word crisply and slowly. But now, for some reason, an alarm was going off. And nobody seemed in a hurry to make it stop."

Politicians also have their say. In the Daily Mirror, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accuses the PM of "chasing short-term headlines" but having no practical plans to tackle employers who "exploit immigration to undercut local jobs and wages".

Meanwhile, in the Daily Express, UKIP's Steven Woolfe argues the UK must leave the EU: "Whatever happens with benefits, migrants from eastern Europe will still come, as the minimum wage is more than they could ever hope for in their native country." Conservative James Wharton, whose Commons bill to guarantee a referendum on EU membership was defeated in the Lords, writes in the paper: "Let's renegotiate and get the best deal we can. We must then have that referendum and give the people the final say."

That Friday feeling

"Black Friday" sparks almost as much frenzy in the news pages as it did in supermarket aisles. Photographs of shoppers grappling with one another over mark-down TVs appear on most front pages. The Daily Mail leads on the story, proclaiming "shopping madness" and the "stampede of the sales 'animals'".

Other headlines describe, variously:

  • Whack Friday (Express)
  • Smack Friday (Star)
  • The Long Black Friday (Independent)
  • Black and Blue Friday (Mirror)

The Telegraph produces a map of flashpoints where police intervened. However, the Sun pays no heed to the "whingers", arguing: "Packed stores and overflowing tills do wonders for the economy. Ok, the occasional shopper got over-excited. That's a (substantially-reduced) price worth paying."

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The Mirror is among papers highlighting the best deals and even the usually peace-loving Guardian lists a few "reductions to fight for".

However, the FT's companies editor Brooke Masters wonders about the business case for discounting, given the supermarkets are already in a price war. "Thanksgiving bargains eat into profits and condition shoppers to wait for further discounts. Manic Black Fridays have not necessarily translated into bumper overall sales."

Meanwhile, the Times warns: "You've survived Black Friday - now get ready to face Black Saturday." However, it reveals a "more refined affair" than the "smash and grab discount haul", being the day British retailers will sell more little black dresses than on any other day.

Shellfish diners

Lobsters are in the news.

They find their way on to the Guardian's front page, which highlights the growing trend for Canadian-caught crustaceans being sold in supermarkets.

image copyrightReuters

"Discounters have taken advantage of a slump in the wholesale price of lobster as warming seas, better fishing capabilities and fewer natural predators (including cod) have resulted in more lobsters and made them easier to haul in," it reports.

The cheap shellfish - sold cooked whole and frozen for a fiver in some supermarkets - are the same small variety as the aliens turning up in Yorkshire fisherman's pots, according to the Daily Telegraph. It seems well-meaning cruise passengers have been ordering live lobsters, then asking waiters to throw them overboard rather than having them plunged into boiling water to be eaten.

However, the paper quotes one fisherman saying that while the larger Canadian castoffs turn up in pots - some with rubber bands still around the claws - most can't compete with the native European species. "They won't last much longer than if the passengers had eaten them for dinner," he adds.

Not for turning?

A review of the driving test could spell the "end of the road for the three-point turn", as the Daily Mail puts it.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency says candidates could instead be asked to follow directions on a satnav "as part of a revised practical exam designed to reflect 'real-world' conditions", it says.

However, while the Telegraph records an enthusiastic response from the Driving Instructors Association, it quotes AA President Edmund King complaining: "A three-point turn is still an important manoeuvre for getting out of cul de sacs, dead ends and, often, car parks."

A curmudgeonly editorial in the Express says the very phrase is enough to bring drivers out in a cold sweat, given how many missed out on a licence because of a botched turning, and that "young people today don't know how easy they've got it".

Still, as the Mirror says, while budding motorists may breathe a sigh of relief: "In future it will just be that maddening sat-nav voice which drives us all round the bend."

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