Newspaper headlines: EU vote 'in 2016', 'Panic Saturday', free speech fears and mine 'killed off'

A variety of stories make Saturday's front pages, but most of the papers pick up on suggestions the UK's referendum on EU membership will be held in summer 2016.

"We are well on our way to a deal," David Cameron said at the end of a two-day Brussels summit, the Financial Times reports.

It says the prime minister said he was close to reframing the UK's relationship with Europe, and confirmed for the first time he wants to hold the "Brexit" vote next year.

But his comments are met with scepticism - and some derision - in the papers.

The Daily Mail says he "opted to cut and run" after failing to secure his "key demand to curb mass migration".

In a comment piece, it says Mr Cameron's "breakthrough" was in reality a "deadlock" - leaving him "on the brink of abject surrender".

Image copyright AFP

"What planet is he living on?" the Daily Express asks, adding that reports suggest he "does not have a hope of achieving any reform".

The Daily Telegraph is more positive about the prime minister's prospects, saying he did not leave the EU summit "empty-handed" and a deal on his "limited" demands will probably be reached.

But a cartoon in the paper depicts a tearful Mr Cameron sitting on the knee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, dressed as Father Christmas, is throwing his Christmas list over her shoulder.

It appears Downing Street will campaign to stay in the EU "whatever the outcome of the renegotiation", the Times says, but it warns: "The only EU worth our dues is a reformed one."

"In Europe, out Cam!" is the call from the Daily Mirror, which says staying in the EU is "fundamental to our country's prosperity" and accuses Mr Cameron of "promising what he cannot and will not deliver".

'Panic Saturday'

Yesterday was - the Guardian says - Booze Black Friday, the day when alcohol sales were expected to peak and Britons "double their normal alcohol consumption".

And on the subject of almost every day apparently now having a name - usually related to shopping - the Mail tells us today is "Panic Saturday".

Stores are making their biggest price cuts since 2008 in a pre-Christmas bid to recapture customers who now shop online, it says.

Somewhat confusingly for anyone who likes months to turn up in a predicable order and time, the Express says the January sales start today.

To cash in on Panic Saturday - after Black Friday "fell flat" (possibly from day-naming fatigue) - it says shops will offer discounts of up to 80%.

But online retailers may have the edge even on last-minute gifts - with some offering delivery by midnight on Christmas Eve for orders placed as late as 21:45 that evening, the Telegraph reports.

Image copyright AFP

'Oxonian mob'

Pop songs, sombreros and atheists are on the "long and growing" list of things banned on British university campuses, the Daily Telegraph reports.

It says a group of academics believe universities have become too politically correct and are "stifling free speech" by banning anything that offends anyone.

In a letter, the academics say universities "increasingly see students as customers" and, in turn, "many of the most vocal students feel they have a right to demand protection from images, words and ideas that offend them".

The paper says the debate comes as an Oxford college considers removing a statue of Cecil Rhodes, because he is regarded as the founding father of colonial South Africa.

In a comment piece, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan criticises the "Oxonian mob" who want the statue taken down, and says keeping it does not mean endorsing Rhodes's views.

"If you're really too dim to understand that, maybe you shouldn't be at university," he adds.

Image caption Based on the Telegraph's story, a pop-singing atheist in a sombrero might not be welcome at UK universities

Mine 'killed off'

"This industry has just thrown them on the scrapheap," a miners' union representative says in the Guardian, as it reports on the closure of Britain's last deep coalmine.

He says miners followed the industry "from closure of pit to closure of pit" - and a miner says the closure is "like losing part of your family".

"It's dirty, dangerous, arduous work," Zoe Williams writes. "That doesn't mean the men at Kellingley colliery are glad to see the end of it."

Defiant miners "sang their way down" for their final shift - belting out Tom Jones's Delilah - the Express reports.

The pit was "killed off by the Tories in revenge" for what a Conservative MP once called "200 years of insubordination" by miners, the Mirror says.

Mr Cameron has finished work begun by Margaret Thatcher - and miners' families will "never forget or forgive", the paper comments.

Image copyright AFP

The Independent contrasts the mine closure with statistics suggesting a widening of Britain's "already yawning wealth gap".

Under the headline "fat-cat Britain" it says the richest 1% of the population now have as much wealth as the poorest 57%.

Eye-catching headlines

  • Taking us for a ride - The Sun says almost £100,000 of taxpayers' money has been "blown on taking asylum seekers to theme parks and the seaside".
  • Why thirtysomething women give birth to clever children - Women who become first-time mothers in their 30s tend to have advantages like better education and healthier lifestyles - and these result in cleverer children, according to research quoted in the Times.
  • Why Colonel Bogey got it right about Hitler - A German historian claims to have uncovered proof that Germany's wartime leader had an "undescended testicle", the Telegraph says.
  • Wonky veg shapes up for Christmas in store trial - Morrisons has reported "brisk sales" of vegetables which are either misshapen, cracked or very large or small, the Guardian reports.

'Evil empire' and secret Stormtrooper

If you watch the new Star Wars film to the end of the credits, the Daily Mirror says, you'll see a mention for UK Chancellor George Osborne under "special thanks".

The government has paid out almost £1.5bn in tax relief for films since 2007, the paper says - but it does not add its own praise for the "Tory axeman".

"The last 'Chancellor' to appear in the series was Palpatine, who used his double life as Sith lord Darth Sidious to usher in an evil empire," the Mirror adds.

Sticking with Star Wars, the Daily Star says Daniel Craig appeared as an extra - a masked Stormtrooper - in the latest film, The Force Awakens.

It says the actor "jumped at the chance" of filling the role between shooting scenes for James Bond film Spectre.

And keeping an eye out for Death Stars will be UK astronaut Tim Peake who, according to the Sun, will watch The Force Awakens on the International Space Station on Monday.

Image copyright Getty Images

What the commentators say

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Media captionJames Millar, Westminster correspondent for the Sunday Post, and Katy Guest, literary editor of the Independent on Sunday, join the BBC News Channel to review Saturday's papers.

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