Newspaper headlines: Tory rebels, Daniels' death, Nefertiti's tomb

Disabled man Image copyright Science Photo Library

The majority of Friday's papers agree there is a rebellion growing among Conservative MPs over Chancellor George Osborne's plan to change the personal independence payments (PIP) benefit for disabled people, in a bid to save the exchequer £1.3bn.

The Daily Express reports figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which suggests 640,000 people could be affected by changes to the benefit, and claimants "would lose an average of £3,500 each".

Downing Street has defended the changes to PIP, says the Guardian, because health professionals found after the initial payment to fund aids for disabled people, "the continuing extra costs were low or non-existent in 96% of cases".

According to the Daily Telegraph, there are scores of Tory MPs who will force Mr Osborne to "roll back" the plans, and as one backbencher put it, the government has "zero chance" of getting the measure through Parliament.

The Daily Mirror quotes Conservative MP Andrew Percy saying the plan is "not sellable" and "not fair to people who cannot work".

There is "frustration" inside the government over Mr Osborne's handling of the issue, according to the Times. It quotes an anonymous minister saying the move was a "political decision not based on a true sense of how real lives will be affected". The minister adds: "put your money on a U-turn."

In its leader column, the Telegraph criticises the chancellor's approach to making changes to the payment. "There is still a case to be made for the government's changes to disability benefit," the paper says. "Sadly Mr Osborne's handling of the issue so far means it is harder for him to make it."

There is a similar tone from the Independent's leader column, which says while there is "no intrinsic moral wrong in seeking to reform the welfare state", the chancellor should "listen to the fears expressed by those within his party before he performs any future tinkering with a complex and essential system of public support".

'Periods are not a luxury'

The New Day heralds the UK's deal with the European Union over VAT on sanitary products as a "victory for common sense", saying that over the past 15 years, British women "paid an estimated £240m in tax alone on tampons".

The paper illustrates its article with a map of the world showing the taxes levied on sanitary products. Countries including Nicaragua, Lebanon and Nigeria zero-rate tampons, it shows.

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The Daily Telegraph explains Prime Minister David Cameron needed the support of the 27 other EU leaders to scrap the 5% VAT rate on sanitary products, although it adds a warning from Eurosceptic MPs that the move could be vetoed by the European Parliament.

The tampon tax "has proved embarrassing for the prime minister and chancellor as they try to convince voters to stay in the EU", says the Daily Mail, adding that 300,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to act.

The Guardian points out Chancellor George Osborne had already set aside the revenue from VAT on sanitary products, with £12m going to charities including domestic violence groups. The paper says it is not clear whether those charities would be compensated for the loss of this income once the 0% rating is in place.

Labour MP Paula Sherriff makes that point in the Independent, saying the chancellor "should guarantee that essential women's services won't depend on a tax on essential women's products".

Eye-catching headlines

  • Captain Birdseye telly ads are back - as synonymous with a food stuff as the Milky Bar Kid is to, well, Milky Bars, it will surely gladden the heart of many reading the Sun to see that the white-bearded, fish-product proffering salty seadog is to return to our TVs after a two-year absence. The new ad will be show on 9 April, the paper reports.
  • Bigger Ben Nevis: peak 'grows' by a metre - Britain's highest mountain just got a bit higher, according to the Daily Telegraph. The official record now shows it standing at 1,345 metres, an increase of one metre on the previous measurement. There has been no geological activity though, with the paper noting better technology has given a more accurate reading.
  • Germans go doolally for English slang - a sehr gut story from the Times, which reveals how a team of (actually) Swiss-German academics have been fascinated by common British phrases such as "brass monkeys", and "doolally". One of the researchers, Franz Andres Morrissey of the University of Berne called them "downright surreal sayings".
  • Why eating loudly could keep you slim - file this under "strange but true", the Daily Mail reports on US research which suggests we eat less when we can hear ourselves chew. The paper reports this may be because "we tire of eating more quickly when it is a louder experience".

The magic has gone

All of Friday's papers pay tribute to Paul Daniels, the TV magician and light entertainment star who died on Thursday at the age of 77 having recently been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.

"From the age of 11, when he picked up a book called How To Entertain At Parties, all Paul Daniels ever wanted to do was to be a professional magician", writes Jane Fryer in the Daily Mail.

Image copyright PA

Mark Lawson, in the Guardian, says Daniels on TV was "inventive and ambitious, aiming to make the viewers gasp and wonder how it had possibly been done".

According to the Daily Telegraph's obituary, "his abrasive manner and self-confidence, interpreted by some as arrogance, would often rub people up the wrong way", it notes. But the paper says his catchphrases "you'll like it, not a lot, but you'll like it", delighted audiences with whom he had a tremendous rapport.

"What you saw from Paul Daniels on TV was what you got in real life," writes Chris Roycroft-Davis - also a magician - in the Daily Express. "Paul was a down to earth, fun character at heart."

The Times reinforces this point in its obituary, saying Daniels' final tour in 2014 was entitled "Back... Despite Popular Demand".

The Daily Mirror quotes Daniels' wife, Debbie McGee, saying that in his final days they ate Magnum ice creams together and "watched Bradley Walsh on the chase every day at 5pm because Paul and I love Bradley and that made us laugh every day".

The Sun gives over part of its editorial column to Daniels' passing, saying: "those too young to remember Daniels in his prime won't grasp what a little genius he was as a magician, nor how great was his popularity. Britain liked him. Quite a lot."

Find of the century?

The papers are keen to know whether the burial place of ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti has been discovered behind Tutankhamen's tomb in Egypt.

"Found: Tut's spare tomb" is the Daily Mirror's headline, as the paper says archaeologists have discovered "two empty spaces behind his chamber which contain possible organic and metallic matter".

Image copyright AFP

The Daily Express says there is "huge international interest in Nefertiti", who died in the 14th Century BC. "Her chiselled cheekbones and regal beauty were immortalised in a 3,300-year-old bust now on display in a Berlin museum," it says.

No tomb has ever been found for the queen, reports the Daily Telegraph. It says a radar scan of the site has "electrified the Egyptologist community" and raised hopes of a find on a par with the discovery of the king's tomb in 1922.

The hypothesis there was a hidden burial chamber in the tomb was first put forward last year by the British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, reports the Times. It says he believed the wall reliefs in Tutankhamen's tomb had originally be painted for Nefertiti, but adapted for the king following his sudden death at the age of 19.

The Guardian believes a find would be a boost for the Egyptian tourist industry, following the recent downing of a plane carrying mostly Russian tourists in the Sinai.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is run on Friday, and while the bits of the papers designed for the racing fraternity look at runners, riders and form, elsewhere there is as much focus on the participation in the festival of former double Olympic gold cyclist-turned amateur jockey, Victoria Pendleton.

Image copyright Reuters

The Daily Mirror brings us up to speed. Pendleton is competing in the Foxhunter Chase on Friday at the climax of a year-long challenge funded by a leading bookmaker. She'll be riding a horse called Pacha du Polder at odds of 16/1, says the paper.

The Independent's Chris McGrath says "many are aggrieved to see Pendleton's participation" in the Foxhunter Chase, which is run after the day's main event and known as the amateur's Gold Cup. But, McGrath adds, "nobody should resent Pendleton for wrenching a gap in the palisade that might otherwise preserve this theatre for the aficionados".

A similar point is made by Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph. "A celebrity-driven, lavishly funded personal challenge has been loaded on to an event built for other purposes entirely, with a risk of physical damage to an adventurer and an overshadowing of the other contestants," he writes.

"But is that Pendleton's problem? And will the country be fascinated (and nervous) at 4pm? You bet."

The Sun's tipster Templegate is not confident of Pendleton's chances. His verdict: she doesn't have the experience and her horse doesn't have the stamina. But trainer Paul Nicholls admits that while she will need "a lot of luck", they would "not have let her ride in this if we didn't think she could win".

If Pendleton does romp home in first place, the Mirror believes she could cost the bookies £10m.

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