Newspaper headlines: Obama backing, Queen's independence and Maro Itoje

The EU referendum debate is back on the front pages, with Barack Obama and the Queen featuring prominently.

The Independent on Sunday reports that the US president will fly to London next month and seek to persuade British voters to remain members of the European Union.

The Independent says the timing of Mr Obama's intervention is a major coup for the Remain campaign - but those in the Leave camp are furious at the prospect of him swaying those undecided.

The paper continues: "A Number 10 source confirmed that Mr Obama will make his intervention and visit the UK as an extra leg of a trip to Germany next month.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Barack Obama will reportedly be visiting Britain

"Rumours have circulated for months that Mr Obama, who is considered the greatest electoral campaigner of his generation after becoming the first black person to win the White House in 2008, would intervene on the EU vote."

The Independent says a visit would also help patch up relations with David Cameron after perceived criticism of UK policy following the 2011 intervention in Libya.

The Independent states: "In an interview last week, the US president accused the prime minister of having been 'distracted', appearing to suggest that Mr Cameron had not done enough to help oversee Libya's transition to a stable government.

"The president's advisers have since insisted he did not mean to be critical."


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'Damage limitation mode'

The Sunday Times reports that courtiers have stepped in to prevent the Queen being used as a "political football" during the EU referendum campaign.

It comes after the Sun claimed the monarch supported the UK leaving the European Union - Buckingham Palace insists the Queen is politically neutral.

The Sunday Times says Buckingham Palace officials conceded that the Queen had been damaged by being "sucked into the partisan squabbling" over Britain's future, amid growing fears in royal circles that she has become politicised.

Courtiers have acknowledged that not enough has been done to ensure the Queen is above politics during the "increasingly toxic battles" between David Cameron and anti-European Tories, the paper continues.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The front page that caused such a stir

"In a shot across the bows of ministers - who have used the Queen to promote the government's position on Scottish independence and the EU - a senior figure close to the Palace signalled last night that the royal household would resist any further efforts to drag her into politics," it says.

"The Palace will continue to fight a claim by the Sun newspaper that the Queen 'backs Brexit'. But officials have conceded that publicity about her private views on Europe is the consequence of the politicisation of the royals."

The paper says the intervention came as Justice Secretary Michael Gove apparently outed himself as one of the Sun's sources.

As political editor Tim Shipman puts it: "From the moment the Sun dropped on doormats on Wednesday morning, Buckingham Palace and Downing Street have been in damage limitation mode."

The Sunday Telegraph says the Leave campaign "suffered a blow" when Mr Gove fuelled speculation that he was responsible for reports in the Sun that the Queen wanted to leave the EU.

The Mail on Sunday goes even further, saying Mr Gove was fighting for his political life after he appeared to confess leaking the Queen's comments about the EU.


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Campaign clash

Sunday Telegraph senior political correspondent Tim Ross interviews John Longworth, who quit as head of the British Chambers of Commerce after backing the Out campaign.

The paper says: "The business leader John Longworth warned that voters 'cannot trust the government' to tell them the truth about Europe.

"David Cameron's aides are conspiring with other EU countries to persuade the public to stay in the Brussels club, he said.

"Mr Longworth warned that Downing Street's determination to close down debate over Europe 'carried a whiff of the dark side'."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption John Longworth resigned over the EU referendum

The Sunday Telegraph says he spoke out as International Development Secretary Justine Greening in an interview with the paper attacked claims that the government was trying to scare voters into staying in the EU with misleading and exaggerated warnings of the consequences of Brexit.

The paper says she demanded that Leave campaigners detail the trade deals the UK will have if the country votes to leave the EU.


'Treading on eggshells'

Away from the EU referendum - or maybe not in some commentators' eyes - Wednesday's Budget gets plenty of attention.

In an editorial, the Sunday Times urges George Osborne to deliver a Budget for Britain, not just himself.

"Mr Osborne will be treading on eggshells this week for fear of doing anything that would upset the chances of a Remain vote in the 23 June European Union referendum," it says.

"Staying in the EU is key to his own political ambitions - always near the top of the list of considerations for this most political of chancellors."

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Media captionAnne Ashworth, assistant editor of the Times, and broadcaster and London Evening Standard columnist Mihir Bose join the BBC News Channel to review Sunday's front pages.

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer writes that the chancellor has no room to make any mistakes - because of the politics of both the EU referendum and the Tory succession.

The Independent says Mr Osborne's agenda is to present himself in the most prime ministerial light, do down his rival Boris Johnson, and win the EU referendum.


Super Maro

Finally, the Sunday Times profiles England rugby star Maro Itoje after his man-of-the-match performance in the win over Wales at Twickenham in the Six Nations.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maro Itoje starred in England's win over Wales

"Born in Camden, north London, to parents Efe and Florence, he is not the typical cauliflower-eared player," it says.

"With film-star looks and a strong Christian upbringing, he reads politics as well as opposition moves while studying for a degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

"His 6ft 5in and 18-stone physique is offset by a fondness for writing poetry as well as listening to gangster rap."

The paper says the former Harrow schoolboy is already being called Super Maro.