Newspaper headlines: PM set for EU summit 'fight', Apple resists court, and the 'sport' of bellringing

As the prime minister heads to Brussels hoping to win backing for his EU reform plans, Thursday's papers set the scene.

"Europe: Deal or no deal?" asks the Daily Telegraph's headline. David Cameron, it says, is preparing for tense all-night talks on the last remaining issues, although Downing Street is privately confident a deal can be reached.

But the Telegraph adds there are signs of discontent - to the anger of eastern European leaders Germany is understood to have privately indicated it may also want to access a UK scheme to restrict migrant benefits, and France is said to be refusing to sanction any change to EU treaties.

The Guardian says Mr Cameron is "set for a battle of brinkmanship". Securing treaty change ahead of the UK referendum on whether to stay in the EU heads a list of "outstanding things".

According to the Times, the prime minister was "digging in" against moves to further weaken his pledge to scrap child benefit payments for migrant workers when the children are not in the UK.

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It could, says the Financial Times, "all come unstuck" over this "emotive issue". Even so, it notes the maximum cost of the child benefit payments is £25m, an amount which "would barely merit a mention" in a Treasury Spending Review.

The way the Sun sees it, Mr Cameron will "fight to avoid outright humiliation as leaders try to further water down his 'thin gruel' for Britain".

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror claims the prime minister is to offer British patrol ships, helicopters and police to help combat Europe's migrant crisis in a last-ditch bid to win support.

The lead story in the Daily Mail highlights figures from the Office for National Statistics that show the number of EU workers in Britain rose by 215,000 last year to more than 2 million. The announcement is the "real issue" and overshadowed Mr Cameron's preparation for the summit, says the paper.

The Daily Express reports the response of the "out" camp to the ONS figures - that the only solution is to leave the EU. It also records the government's assertion that the prime minister's negotiations are aiming to "control immigration by reducing the artificial draw of our welfare system".

Eye-catching headlines

  • Benidorm puts up 'look left' signs to help confused Brits cross the road - The Daily Telegraph reports an initiative in the Spanish resort aiming to reduce the number of accidents involving drunk holidaymakers
  • Would the world work better if Greenwich went global? - The Independent says a radical plan to destroy global time zones and create a single "Universal Time" is gathering support. When it's 07:00 in London, it would also be 07:00 in Los Angeles
  • How your voice gives away your vital statistics - The Guardian reports researchers at Nottingham Trent University have a found surprising parity between the judgments people can make from hearing a spoken voice and seeing a face

'Fateful moment'

Much newsprint is also given over to Mr Cameron's meeting at Downing Street on Wednesday with London mayor Boris Johnson, whom both sides in the referendum debate are wooing.

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Image caption Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street on Wednesday

The cartoonists take inspiration from the encounter, which ended with Mr Johnson indicating he had still not made up his mind.

Peter Brookes in the Times portrays the prime minister as comic hero Tintin taking a step over the White Cliffs of Dover as Mr Johnson - as the intrepid reporter's canine sidekick Snowy - drags his feet in the green grass.

The caption on Dave Brown's effort in the Independent reads "The Terminator..? Judgement Day". He has Mr Johnson as Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg movie character, with Mr Cameron looking anxiously over his shoulder. The London mayor did, after all, tell reporters as he left Number 10: "I'll be back".

Elsewhere, the leader writers turn their attention to the summit itself.

The Guardian says the UK "risks doing a good impression of a nation taking leave of reality" in the coming days. "The wish to feel in control of one's own nation is a resilient reality" but "that wish is entirely compatible with membership of the EU, which has benefitted Britain".

In the view of Times, it is "crunch time". The talks are a "fateful moment for the European project. A chance for a change of course away from the mandatory 'ever closer union' towards a looser and more democratic community of shared values and interests".

The Daily Telegraph says Mr Cameron deserves credit for edging towards a deal he can "sell to the nation" even if it will cut little ice with those in favour of Brexit. But it adds it is a shame that other nations did not see the merits of the changes he was proposing and "join his search for a more far-reaching redesign".

Apple's legal showdown

Apple's announcement it will contest a court order to help FBI investigators access data on the iPhone belonging to a US gunman with links to the so-called Islamic State group attracts much attention.

The Financial Times says the Federal court ruling brought to a head a dispute over encryption and privacy between Silicon Valley and law enforcement that has been simmering for more than a year and sets up a legal showdown that could potentially end up in the Supreme Court.

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The Sun brands the tech giant's stance a "disgrace", urging it to "stop whining and do its bit to prevent innocent people being massacred by terrorists".

Apple, says the Times, is wrong not to co-operate. The "'thin edge of the wedge' argument, so often deployed in debates over the correct balance between collective security and personal liberty, is in this instance fallacious", it says.

The Independent, however, says Apple is in the right. "Meek compliance will give the green light to security agencies in America - and quite plausibly elsewhere too - to use the courts to force technology firms to undermine the integrity and safety of their own products."

What the commentators say...

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Media captionBen Chu, economics editor at the Independent, and Cassell Bryan-Low from the Wall Street Journal join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages

Bellringing at the Olympics?

Calls to reclassify bellringing as a sport are reported to be creating an almighty ding-dong in the world of campanology.

Some bellringers, reports the Daily Telegraph, argue the activity is a form of exercise, and obtaining sport status is a way to attract new recruits and boost funding.

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Sport England decides if an activity can be categorised as a sport based on a definition of a "physical activity", and bellringing is said to help coordination, improve agility and tone a range of muscles.

The idea, says the Times, has been put forward in the Ringing World journal but has divided the nation's 40,000 bellringers amid fears it would sever the link with the Church.

"Will a bellringer take home gold at the 2020 Olympics? Could a campanologist be named sports personality of the year? Will there be a David Beckham of the belfries?" it wonders.

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