Newspaper headlines: Battle lines drawn over EU vote

The EU referendum not surprisingly dominates the Sunday papers after the deal struck by David Cameron in Brussels over the UK's relationship with Europe.

The Sunday Times has an interview with Mr Cameron in which he "declares war on the rebels" who want to leave the European Union.

He tells the Sunday Times: "So far, the EU has never given full access to the single market without insisting on a contribution to the budget and free movement."

Representing the other side of the debate, Commons Leader Chris Grayling tells the paper that Mr Cameron's deal would be more than outweighed by George Osborne's decision to raise the minimum wage.

"The introduction of the national living wage will have a boosting effect on the attraction of Britain as a place to come and work and I don't see any obvious sign of the migration pressures on the UK ending anytime soon," he says.

The Sunday Telegraph calculates that Mr Cameron faces the prospect of a fifth of government ministers opposing his bid to keep the UK in the EU.

The paper, like the Sunday Times, pictures ministers John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel at the launch of the Vote Leave campaign.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Snap election... David Cameron announces the date of polling day

The Observer says Mr Cameron has been rocked by the decision of Mr Gove to join the Leave campaign.

The Independent says the battle over the UK's future in Europe "exploded into life" after Mr Gove attacked the prime minister's claim that the country's security would be endangered by a vote to leave.

The Mail on Sunday speculates that London Mayor Boris Johnson is about to join the "Out" camp - after a meeting with Mr Gove.

Mr Gove announced he would back the exit campaign within minutes of Mr Cameron confirming the date of the referendum, 23 June, reports the Sunday Express.

The Sun on Sunday believes Mr Johnson is poised to "electrify" the campaign by backing the UK's exit from Europe.

"Making your mind up," says the Sunday Mirror, referring to Bucks Fizz's 1981 Eurovision Song Contest-winning effort.

Another musical reference for the Sunday People, which dubs Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson the "Eton Rivals".

The Daily Star Sunday says Mr Johnson is expected to make his decision known after the prime minister's appearance on Sunday's Andrew Marr Show on the BBC.


'Once-in-a-generation moment'

The Sunday Telegraph, which has page upon page of analysis, describes how events unfolded.

"On the steps of Number 10, David Cameron was pledging to fight the 'leap in the dark' of an EU exit. At the same moment as he spoke at the front of the building, six of his cabinet quietly left by a side-door in an almost unprecedented leap of their own.

"For the first time in 41 years, serving British ministers were joining a public campaign against their government and prime minister - a campaign which, if successful, will almost certainly end Mr Cameron's political career."

The Sunday Times looks behind the scenes at the cabinet meeting where the deal brokered by Mr Cameron was discussed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Getting out... Michael Gove at the launch of the Vote Leave campaign

It says: "Those present say the meeting was a respectful and light-hearted affair in which Cameron and his ministers sought to stress their desire to fight a clean fight from positions of principled difference - and then pull together as a united party after the referendum on June 23."

The Observer believes the campaign now begins in earnest - and the political convulsions are only just beginning.

"It was a once-in-a-generation moment," it begins. "Outside 10 Downing Street on a grey February afternoon, David Cameron gave the British people the chance to change their nation's history."

The Independent on Sunday, meanwhile, looks at the countdown to polling day which includes Mr Cameron's statement to Parliament, the formal "referendum period", local elections across the UK, the Euro 2016 football championship, and the Glastonbury music festival.

Bob's cartoon in the Telegraph depicts Michael Gove sawing his way through the cabinet table as fellow cabinet members look on.


'Epic consequences'

Writing in the Sunday Times, Adam Boulton says that in the 48 hours from his arrival in Brussels to his address to the nation Mr Cameron gave a masterclass in effective prime ministership.

"As his disparagers were quick to point out, his presentation of the deal was what you might expect from a man whose only career outside politics was seven years as a 'PR man' for a TV company," he says.

"It seemed natural that after two days of foot-dragging procrastination, he managed to announce his triumph live on Friday's 10pm news programmes."

In the same paper, historian Niall Ferguson argues that the idea we can separate ourselves from Europe is an illusion.

"To us Anglosceptics," he writes, "The lesson of history is that British isolationism is itself a trigger for continental disintegration.

"Vote for Brexit this year and we shall 'Breturn', sooner or later, to sort out the ensuing mess, but in much the same appalling, costly way as we had to in 1808, 1914 and 1939 - and with much less strength than we then enjoyed as the world's biggest empire."

Janet Daley in the Telegraph believes that if the past year has shown us anything it is that the EU cannot be reformed.

She says: "It has still not formulated any practical solution to the migrant crisis that is threatening to undermine its authority in the eastern member states.

"It was ruthlessly autocratic in its treatment of Greece's economic collapse, which has earned it the permanent distrust of that exhausted country (and contributed to its government's fury over the threat of closing its borders).

"Some of us had hoped that the UK renegotiation would provide an opportunity to discuss the possibility of bringing the whole project into the 21st Century: for adapting to circumstances that are very different from the ones in which the original union was born.

"But that was never going to happen."


Editorial comment

  • Times: Our special status is having this referendum
  • Telegraph: How to answer the European question
  • Observer: Cameron won a deal. Now he must win the vote
  • Independent: Base your vote on hope not fear
  • Mail: At last! After 41 years, the fate of Britain is up to YOU
  • Express: People want facts not fiction for the referendum
  • Sun: We can't let the EU call our bluff
  • Mirror: It's out we go... or the status quo

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer is in no doubt about the enormity of the decision to be made.

"David Cameron was absolutely right when he declared that 'the choice goes to the heart of what kind of country we want to be'," he states.

"This campaign will not be like a general election and the decision will be much more epic in its consequences than choosing a tenant for Number 10.

"When we select a prime minister, we give them a short-term lease on power with the right to change our minds after five years. In or Out will be a generational choice about the future of the United Kingdom."

The Independent's John Rentoul contends that Mr Cameron is finished whatever happens in the referendum.

"If Cameron wins this referendum he will be hobbled by his party. Within moments of the result, the anti-EU Tory party will be looking towards the next referendum.

"If Cameron loses the referendum, forget all his hints about staying on. His time would be over. His party would not countenance Brexit negotiations being handled by a leader who wanted to stay in."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has his say in the Observer.

"For all the fanfare and last-minute theatrics, the deal that David Cameron has made on Britain's relationship with the EU is a sideshow," he writes.

"The changes he has negotiated are largely irrelevant to the problems most people in Britain face - and to the decision we now have to make."


'Smartphone zombies'

Finally, away from the referendum, the Sunday Times has been observing what are known as "snombies" - smartphone zombies - people who concentrate on their phones so much that they risk injury as they walk along the street.

It sent out reporters to observe more than 1,900 pedestrians in central London, and found one in four risked hurting themselves or others and one in eight crossed a busy road while texting or checking their phone.

There are fears that "text walking" is causing injuries and provoking angry confrontations among pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, the paper explains.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAuthor and journalist Rachel Shabi and Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley join the BBC News Channel to review Sunday's front pages.

Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle believes these sleepwalking texters need a wake-up call.

"These technological advances do not connect us with the outside world, they insulate us from it, and our society becomes a little more atomised," he concludes.

In an editorial titled The Secret of Appiness, the paper says: "Here is a thought: what we need is a clever programmer to develop an app that will show the same view on our phone that we would see in the unlikely event of our looking up to avoid obstacles (which, for younger readers, is how crossing the street used to be done).

"Until that time, we'll just have to set up our phones to send us the following simple message every, say, five minutes or so: "Why the hell can't you look where you're going?

"That is, after all, what everybody else is thinking."


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